From Roader's Digest: The SABRE Wiki
|To:||Redbridge, Southampton (SU372138)|
|Length:||52 miles (83.7 km)|
|Meets:||A329, M4, A339, A30, M3, A34, A27, A335, A3024, A35, M271|
|Now part of:||A30|
|Basingstoke • Reading • Southampton • Winchester|
|Route outline (key)|
The A33 is split into two distinct sections - the first is the main cross country route from Reading to Basingstoke, and the second the ancient Roman road from Popham, through Winchester, to Southampton.
Reading - Basingstoke
Originally the A33 started at Southampton Street in Reading but now starts on the A329 Reading IDR at a set of traffic lights. It then passes through a series of roundabouts and retail parks before meeting the M4. Over this, the road continues on a dual carriageway section built in the 1970s - the old road can be seen branching off to the left. There have been some improvements here, as pretty much all of the gaps for side roads have been closed off.
We then join up with the old road just after leaving Berkshire (and, incidentally, the B3349 - the A32 as was, on the left), where we're back to two lanes through the north Hampshire countryside and the wonderfully named village of Sherfield on Loddon. Much of this section down to Basingstoke is no overtaking, and there are numerous twists and turns in the road, meaning you're almost certain to get stuck behind a lorry somewhere. And anyway, a 50mph speed limit takes up much of this part.
A series of roundabouts bypasses the old Reading Road at Chineham and lets you know you're getting close to Basingstoke, second only to Milton Keynes as the country's largest national roundabout museum, which culminates in a roundabout with the A339 ring road. And here's where the first half of the A33 finishes, and, bar a short section at the end, gives up its primary status.
Basingstoke - Winchester
From the end of the primary section, we turn left onto the sliproad to the A339, and just before the M3 junction, turn right onto the A30 around the Basingstoke ring road. Carrying on round the ring road on the A30 (which the A33 multiplexes with), we head off southwest.
Difficult to pick out, the old route can just be traced on a local map. The A33 would have carried on down Norn Hill, past the recently renovated "Poison" bar - an obvious old coaching inn - to the centre of town. From the Lower Brook, the route would have climbed up to the Market Square along Wote Street, before turning sharply right to find Winchester Street/Road. Following the Winchester Road out of town takes us to the south-eastern corner of the ring road where the new route finds us at the obviously named "Winchester Road Roundabout" to start a multiplex with the A30.
Before the coming of the M3 in the 1970s, this would have been A33, since the A30 bypassed the town using the Harrow Way, and so met the current route at the White House junction, now the Brighton Hill Roundabout, ¾ mile further west. The White House, now a Pizza Express, is another coaching inn on the route. Again, a slight deviation from the original route is easy to see by looking for the Stag and Hounds inn on the old Winchester Road.
The road duals as we come out of the southwestern corner of Basingstoke, and comes to an interesting TOTSO. The A33 and A30 both turn off about ½ mile before M3 junction 7, but both are signposted onto it. The old blocked right turn has been reopened, however, and, fortunately there's a signpost "King's Worthy - A33" to help. (Though given that King's Worthy is just north of Winchester, it seems a bit silly to signpost this when you could just head down the M3 instead - maybe there isn't anything else worth signposting the A33 for?)
A mile or so ahead, the multiplex ends as the A33 leads straight at a TOTSO where the A30 traffic heads to the right. This emphasises that the A33 was originally the main road here. In fact, the multiplex has only existed since 1933; before then the A30 left Basingstoke to the west. Immediately after this junction, we cross over the ex-A30, now-A303, spur from the M3, and then a side road to the left is clearly visible as being a former sliproad. This was where the non-primary A33 joined onto the M3 traffic to the primary A33 towards Winchester. You can see a large wooden fence put up where the main carriageway obviously went. Just past here is the original site of the Popham services (the current site is further west on the A303).
The A33 from here down to Winchester is still quite a fast road with large sections of dual carriageway, as befits what was once the "London to Southampton Trunk Road". Most of the dualling and widening took place in the late 1960s, before a final decision had been made to extend the M3 towards Winchester. There's a hump-backed bridge (over the old Winchester to Alton railway) as the road approaches King's Worthy.
A turning on the right leads off to the B3047, formerly the original site of the A3090, and even more formerly than that, the original A33 Roman road into the centre of Winchester. Instead, we swing round to the left where the road duals with hedges as the central reservation. This short section for the next mile or so is all that's left of the classic Winchester Bypass, built in the 1930s and opened in 1940.
We link in via now very faded "Don't change lane" signs with the A34 (which assumes priority here), and head up to the M3 junction. We won't see the A33 number again till the suburbs of Southampton as it happens. The original route carried straight on towards the original Spitfire Bridge under the A31 (now the B3404) and is now partly swallowed up by a Tesco car park as we head towards Bar End. (You can make out the old route by following the path the hedges take, best done from atop the bridge.) The original bridge was demolished to allow a new road to run parallel to the old bypass, now the M3. We pass straight on at the M3 roundabout now onto this new road (now the A272) towards the roundabout with the A31. The road from there was demolished in 1994 when the final section of M3 was completed over Twyford Down to the west. The course of it can partially be followed on foot.
Winchester - Southampton
The original course of the A33 reappears at a roundabout with the A3090 just north of Compton, though at this point it has been downgraded to a local road. At the bottom, we can clearly see the site of the original Winchester bypass cross our path. The road now swings up over the motorway and carries on on the left. This was once the south terminus of the Winchester Bypass, but now all that exists is a solitary bridge. We head south through shaded road towards Otterbourne, before beginning the climb back up the other side. This road was partially 3 lane, but has now been trimmed back to 2 to make way for a traffic "calming" scheme.
At the roundabout, we head right and then left on towards Chandler's Ford. We're now effectively entering suburban Southampton so the road is fairly busy with local traffic. After the roundabout with a Asda, we briefly head back up into the woodlands before finally joining back up with the modern A33 at the Chilworth roundabout. The A27 also joins here.
From here the A33 heads down the four lane traffic of The Avenue past Southampton Common and head into the city centre. At the Six Dials crossroads (once six roads meeting at a point, now a large multi-way junction with traffic lights in a slightly different location) we proceed down the A33 to the docks, where its traditional end appears at the seafront, next to the now defunct Southampton Terminus Station.
In recent times, however, the A33 now has a short epilogue, heading right down the seafront, along the new West Quay shopping area, out on the dual 3 lane road towards Milbrook which was originally part of the A36, and finally comes to a halt with the M271, the route ahead being assumed by the A35.