From Roader's Digest: The SABRE Wiki
|From:||Monument, London (TQ328808)|
|To:||Hardwick Roundabout, King's Lynn (TF634180)|
|Length:||99.7 miles (160.4 km)|
|Meets:||M11, M25, A3, A14, A47, A120, A134, A142, A406, A414, A505, A602|
|Old route now:||A1010, B176, A1170, A1309, A149, A148|
|Route outline (key)|
The A10 is one of the "Great" roads radiating from London, in this case the Great Cambridge Road. It remains largely primary even though Cambridge traffic is now directed via the M11 and the road is still the main north/south road in western East Anglia. Indeed, when travelling to East Anglia from anywhere north of London the A10 must be crossed.
The A10 starts at Monument station in the City of London, which is also the current starting point of the A3. There are no other classified roads here although the A4 and A100 reached this junction until the 1990s. The A10 heads north along Gracechurch Street. It passes Tower 42 (formerly the NatWest Tower), Liverpool Street Station, and runs along the delightfully-named Norton Folgate, before running into the Ring Road (A1201) and the Shoreditch one-way system. After successfully negotiating this, the A10 heads in a straight line, nearly due North, through Dalston, Stoke Newington, and past the Seven Sisters junction with the A503.
Suddenly, at Bruce Grove, it decides it's had enough of this, and deviates from its original route (now the A1010 through Edmonton) to become (after a while) the Great Cambridge Road. Now there's a name that makes you feel you're going somewhere. As with the Great West Road and other similar, this was built in the mid 1920s, an era of much road-building. It's dual carriageway, and there are 1930s houses either side, set back a bit on separate local roads in some cases. We cross the A406 North Circular at the Great Cambridge Junction, and continue towards Enfield, eventually meeting the M25 at a roundabout - Junction 25.
Incidentally, the question of where the road's headed: Historically, as we've seen through the naming of the road, the destination as thought of from London has been Cambridge. However, the construction of the M11 in the 1970s and 80s rather obviated the need for the London-Cambridge traffic to use the A10. So you won't find Cambridge on any of the signs south of Hertford, if I remember correctly. Rather sad, I think. There seems to have been great care taken to obscure the name Cambridge on slightly older signs - though I think I spotted one they missed in Cheshunt (Rob Fairhead informs me that the approach sign to the A10 roundabout on the A121 mentions the C-word) - and you have to wonder whether it was worth it. Fair enough, don't sign to Cambridge this way from the M25, but it seems a bit pointless covering the destination at points north of here. Anyway, rant over. In London, I think the A10's signed to Enfield and Hertford now.
The section through Cheshunt can be a bit gruelling, but after that, things get better.
We're on a dual carriageway at this point, although there's the odd roundabout to punctuate things. Ware is bypassed by a nice fast bit of new road, and then suddenly you're on single carriageway again. A fairly straight bit of road (after all, it is the Roman Ermine Street), and passes through the middle of a few villages, whose inhabitants live in fear of the heavy traffic. Wadesmill is the location of the world's first turnpike, now commemorated by a plaque on one of the houses. The section of the former A10 between High Cross and Colliers End was reputedly improved by Telford.
Puckeridge, which is now bypassed, is a small village which appeared as a major primary route destination on signs, as it's halfway between London and Cambridge. It's also the junction with the A120 to Bishops Stortford and points east, which is also an ex-Roman road (Stane Street). However, Puckeridge doesn't seem to be given as much prominence now. There's another bypass for Buntingford - single carriageway this time - then on to Royston, a fun bit of road to drive on when there's no traffic (!) due to the straightness, and the ups and downs of the road. It passes through the middle of Royston. There's a sharp bend to the right just before a one-way loop; this was a TOTSO and the southern end of the original A14. On the far side of town it meets the A505 at a roundabout.
We cross the Cambridgeshire border - from now on the traffic is slightly reduced. The village of Melbourn is bypassed, but after a level crossing by Foxton station we have to trundle through Harston at 30 mph (if you go any faster, the signs flash at you!). We reach M11 J11, and the A10 disappears. Through traffic is signed to use the M11 and A14 around the Cambridge; the road ahead, the pre-bypass route of the A10, is now the A1309.
The A10 resumes at A14 J33 near the village of Milton, which it then bypasses. Now we're into Fens country, and the traffic is very heavy (we haven't got the luxury of parallel motorways taking the traffic). Because the land is so flat you can see Ely Cathedral (the "Ship of the Fens") for a while before you get to Ely itself. The road is largely straight, but no fun (in my experience) to drive down.
Ely - Kings Lynn
This section was upgraded considerably around 1980 with many re-alignments and bypasses for Ely, Littleport, Southery, Hilgay, Fordham, Denver and Downham Market. I remember watching some of the construction work. It crosses the flat fenland to finish at the Hardwick Roundabout at Kings Lynn where it meets the A47 and A149. It's a single-carriageway primary route although no longer trunk and as you would expect in this part of the world, very...er...flat.
Description of this section by Skiddaw 05
Just south of Ely is a left TOTSO at a roundabout with the A142, where the A10 joins the Ely / Littleport bypass (which continues onto the A142). The A142 multiplexes with the A10 up to the next roundabout where it disappears off to the left into deepest Fenland. The following roundabout is with the A1101 just outside Littleport, and another multiplex take us round a gentle curve towards the next A1101 roundabout (another left TOTSO), just after the A10 goes over the River Great Ouse. However the bypass finishes just before here, actually just over a level crossing, where the right turn into Littleport is the old route of the A10 here.
Much of the A10 north of Ely has been improved to a high standard S2 but the next section is perhaps a reminder of the A10's former life. Here it meanders alongside the Great Ouse (the river here is non tidal due to the Denver Sluice a bit further downstream) on the side of the river embankment, and at a considerably higher than the surrounding flatlands. Ironically if rising sea levels caused the Fens to disappear under water this old stretch of A10 may be the only bit of the road left.
It's still all flat everywhere at the Brandon Creek Bridge over the Little Ouse as you enter Norfolk, but at least the road gets wider after the bridge (you can see the old road - this has never been the A10 - dutifully following the river to the left) and we gain some nice edge strips as well. A bit further on the B1160 makes its way to the right into Southery along the old A10, only to reappear a bit later on, and a few more miles and we reach the roundabout with the A1122 to the south of Downham Market. This roundabout is a relatively recent addition, replacing a priority junction. The A10 multiplexes with the A1122 up to the next roundabout where the latter heads off to Swaffham.
We say goodbye to the edge strips near Tottenhill but the road is still quite reasonable here. It's not until the A134 roundabout (another recent change; the old crossroads here was simply awful) that there's a slight downturn in the A10's fortunes. For here not only does the A10 have to take all the A134's traffic (like the A10, the A134 is ex-trunk), but we also pass through the only significant built up area (Setchey and West Winch) on the A10 between Ely and King's Lynn. And to cap it all things all end up at the traffic signals on the Hardwick Roundabout. Suffice to say this last 4 miles of A10 can be a right slog, often with long northbound queues.A road than this one!) at the outer edge of King's Lynn where it meets the A47 and A149, both of which bypass the town.
In the original classification scheme, all roads inside the City of London were unclassified, so the A10 originally started along Shoreditch High Street where it crossed the boundary into the Borough of Hackney. It was extended back to its current starting point by the end of the 1920s, but at some point later, it was rerouted to start at Bank and run along Threadneedle Street, with the old road becoming the A1213. After the "Ring of Steel" was introduced in 1994, the startpoint was moved back to Monument. Some maps still claim that Gracechurch Street is the A1213, suggesting that the A10 starts inexplicably on that road at a set of traffic lights at the end of Threadneedle Street.
The original endpoint of the A10 was at the junction of Railway Road and Norfolk Street in King's Lynn, where it met the A149. This remained the case until 1935. The A47 was rerouted via King's Lynn to avoid Downham Market and thus took over a mile or so of the A10. Railway Road became the A149. The A10/A47 fork was upgraded to form the Hardwick Roundabout when the A149 King's Lynn Eastern Bypass opened.