Sign at Junction 23M6 Junction 23

The first passenger railway in Britain ran between the cities of Liverpool and Manchester. If things had been slightly different Britain's first motorway could have connected the same two cities. It almost happened except the road that was opened in 1934 to link the two cities was Britain's first purpose built road between two cities numbered A580 and given the name East Lancashire Road, the 1930's was not quite ready for Motorways. The lancashire county council web site gives some interesting information on this road. The A580 was later upgraded to a dual carriageway. Initially it replaced the A57 running from Liverpool through Warrington and Irlam to Manchester as the main route between the two cities, however its number A580 suggests it was also designed to replace the A58 running from Liverpool to Leeds. This is born out by the fact that whilst building a new housing estate in Prestwich just north of Manchester in the 1930's the builders had to leave a wide gap for a new road to Yorkshire, the geography of this suggests a road from the A580 just before it entered Salford through this gap then on into the pennines to Leeds. World War 2 no doubt stopped this planned road from being built, however the gap was utilized later for a road to Yorkshire in the 1970's when the M62 motorway was built over the planned course of the previous road.

 

This possible first motorway crosses what was an southern extension to Britain's first motorway the Preston Bypass at what is now junction 23 of the M6. When first opened this was one of the most important junctions on the M6 being the principle junction both north and south for Liverpool and a secondary junction for Manchester. Although still signed as Liverpool and Manchester (Southbound) and Liverpool (northbound) the junction has effectively been replaced by the M62 2 junctions further south and the M58 3 junctions further north.

The junction is a conventional roundabout, now supplemented with traffic lights, however it is the wrong way round in terms of vertical configuration, in that the M6 crosses over the A580, it would be better the A580 crossing the M6 so that traffic joining the M6 go downhill thus helping acceleration, rather than as now uphill, the same is true conversely with traffic leaving traffic should go uphill thus helping braking rather than the current downhill as happens at this junction.

 

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