M6 at ShapMotorways

There is currently 69 Motorways on the Uk mainland, covering well over 1000 miles. For a road to be a motorway it must have an 'M' number either as its first digit such as M1, M6 or M50 or where it is an upgrade of an A road in brackets at the end of the number such as A1(M), A66(M) or A601(M).

For a road to be classified as motorway a number of conditions must be fulfilled. The following conditions generally apply:

  • Accessed at junctions by slip roads off the sides of the main carriageway;
  • Joined by link-roads at an interchange, the object of which is to allow traffic to change route without stopping or slowing significantly;
  • Traffic lights are not permitted (except at toll booths and certain interchanges)
  • Have signposted entry and exit points at the start and end;
  • Certain types of transport are banned, typically pedestrians, bicycles, learner drivers, horses, agricultural vehicles, underpowered vehicles (e.g. small scooters, invalid carriages).
  • The central reservation remains unbroken (2 exceptions being the Aston Expressway in Birmingham, and part of the A601(M) near Carnforth Lancashire)
  • Emergency telephones (which connect directly to the police) are provided at a regular intervals
  • No roundabouts apart from at the start and finish and some motorway interchanges
  • Hard shoulder available most of the time
  • Other roads are connected at motorway interchanges only. No roads join at any other point except for maintenance access.
  • Most junctions are numbered

The Preston Bypass on Opening  Britains Oldest MotorwayM6 Motorway

What is Britains oldest motorway? The M1? The M4? Actually it is a 9 mile stretch of the M6, between junctions 29 and 32 and including a tiny bit of the M55, this was the Preston Bypass a two lane road similar to the motorway pictured left. This first section was opened on 5th December 1958. This little section expanded over the next 13 years to become Britain's longest Motorways and one of the busiest. In time most motorways where built 3 lane with the Preston bypass being converted to 3 lanes in the mid 1960's and 4 lanes in the late 1990's


Thew Preston Bypass under constructionA6 Replacement

In this section we look at the history of the M6 along with other roads that effectively replaced the A6 including the M61, M60, M40, parts of the M1 and A50 and how these roads have become to be used in preference to the older A6. This over the years has lead to many parts on the A6 become a non primary local route rather than one of the countries main Trunk Roads.

Even before the motorways came travellers rarely used all of the A6. The A6 was one of the most urban roads on the trunk road network, it also climbed over shap fells and the pennines around Buxton. In preverance to using the A6 northern drivers heading for London often headed for either the A1 or the A5 we also track these routes in this section