A454 The Keyway

Where is it?

On the east side of Wolverhampton.

Can you show me that on a map?


What makes this a pathetic motorway?

Simple, it isn't one!

I don't get it! What's it doing here then?

Ah well, now that's a story...

Stop it!

OK then, let me explain.

This road appears as a blue line on no modern maps. Not one.

However, a couple of maps recently came into my possession showing the whole of the A454 Keyway and A454/A463 Black Country Route as a motorway under construction. These maps date from the late 1960s, when construction started on the first section, being the Willenhall Bypass (known as the Keyway). This was completed up until the (then) A463 junction, which was finished in its entirety, including all the required sliproads and underpasses. A scan of one of the maps is available to view here.

The project then fell into an abyss, and the project was never completed as intended, but instead in the late 1980s a watered down project was given the go-ahead, finally being completed in the early 1990s as a partially grade-separated dual carriageway.

Obviously, this piqued my curiosity.

All very interesting, but isn't this about motorways?

OK, the Keyway was originally constructed as an urban motorway, with all the legal paperwork required. Before it was opened, the Orders were revoked, converting the route into an all-purpose (i.e. normal!) road.

BUT - the revocation orders only referred to the section immediately about to open, and NOT the entire construction. When the second section was constructed in the mid 1980s, it simply connected to the already built road under the junction.

This means that the section UNDER the junction has never actually had the Special Road Orders revoked from it, and so is actually a motorway! This is a stunning revelation, and has been confirmed by Avril Sciocco of Wolverhampton City Council as an oversight in the original revocation orders. The city council have contacted the Highways Agency in order to get the error corrected, and so this anomaly will hopefully not last too much longer.

In other words, this is actually Britain's shortest and most pathetic motorway. There are no blue signs, no warning of the special status of the road, and nothing to stop cyclists or pedestrians (although the lack of footpath might deter the latter!).

Can I see some more photographs?

Of course!

Can I comment on this motorway?

Of course! Contact me and I'll put them here!

Have any other visitors commented?

Yes, Chris Bertram comments:

I know the Keyway quite well, and remember the Black Country Route as a pipedream of the West Midlands County Council when I worked there in the early '80s. So I was fascinated by your new page, with the old map scan (slightly different route from the one actually built) and the account of the clerical error - it's all so plausible.

Then I checked the date you posted it! Brilliant.

Chris Atkins spots something:

"I would like to add that it was a particularly fine touch with your "contact's" name - Avril Sciocco. The Avril bit is pretty obvious (April), but the rather exotic sounding Sciocco, in italian, translates to fool. Or stupid person. Or noddle, or any number of synonyms along the same lines. A nice touch.

Geoff Corbett:

  I read with interest your comments etc re the keyway and then smiled as I realised it was a April fool at the end however, I have to say that a large portion of it is correct!

One thing that springs to mind is in the fourth photo (from top left to right) you can clearly see there is a change in road surface and this is as you say is because the road ended there!

To put it in perspective, if you were travelling towards the view from the camera in the said photo, you used to approach the bridge and you'd see a (motorway style) barrier stretching straight across the road terminating it, just the other side of the bridge!

I remember this well (with much puzzlement at the time) as a young lad in the 70s, whilst my dad whisked me along in our Mk I Escort estate!

Happy days...


This page was revealed to be an April Fool's Day Hoax for 2004.... I hope you didn't get taken in!

If you want to read the real story behind that map and the route, then see the Bilston Link Motorway feature.


The Keyway




330 yards

300 m




April Fool's Day Hoax 2004

Map Links:

Might Have Been Map

Present Day Map