From Roader's Digest: The SABRE Wiki
|Length:||9.5 miles (15.3 km)|
|Meets:||A4150, B4484, A462, B4210, A34, B4154, A452, B4155|
|Old route now:||B4484|
|Route outline (key)|
The A4124 is a slightly odd road in many respects. It is almost entirely urban in character and is one of Wolverhampton's busiest radial routes. It is a direct route between two Primary Destinations, yet it is not a Primary Route. Some sections have reserved space for dualling, whilst other sections run along a former railway trackbed.
Wolverhampton city centre - Wednesfield
The present route begins at Broad Street Junction on the A4150 Wolverhampton Inner Ring Road. The layout of the road is very constrained by other transport in the area, as immediately to the east of Broad Street Junction, it passes over the mainline of the Birmingham Canal with a dual carriageway bridge, and within a matter of yards loses two lanes to squeeze under the West Coast Mainline just to the north of Wolverhampton High Level station. The bridge is a listed structure, and so widening the road underneath is almost impossible. The bridge has an odd dip in the road surface more than is seemingly necessary. This dip was installed in order to gain extra headroom so that double-decked trolleybuses could be in use along the road. The trolleybuses are long gone, but the dip remains! Interestingly though, the footways remain at the original level.
On the other side of the bridge, the road suddenly widens once more over the trackbed from the former GWR Wolverhampton Low Level station before heading back downhill past the Royal Mail sorting office and a further single carriageway section. This short section, is, however, unusual in that during the redevelopment of the suburb of Heath Town in the 1960s land was reserved to the south in order to facilitate future dualling of the road. The land lay dormant until the 1990s, when the land was used for a single-lane bus-only carriageway inbound, whilst all other traffic shares the original single carriageway road. Through the rest of Heath Town, the dualling was completed during the redevelopment to the west of Deans Road. At the junction here, yet another railway line (the original Grand Junction Railway) passes underneath in a tunnel and the road heads onto Wednesfield Way, the late 1990s bypass of Wednesfield Town Centre.
Wednesfield Way runs along the trackbed of the former Wolverhampton & Walsall Railway (which closed to rail traffic in the early 1980s) and is single carriageway throughout. If you look carefully, you can see evidence of the former railway, as to the south of the road there are the remains of industrial sidings which in places include remaining track. The use of the former trackbed (including the site of Wednesfield railway station) might well have seemed like a good idea at the time, but at the same time, plans were being laid for an extension of the Midland Metro tram network along, yes, you've guessed it, the same route as the old railway... The place where the route leaves the trackbed is stunningly obvious, with a sudden TOTSO at a roundabout. The road then passes Wednesfield High School and the Sanderson Park housing estate, named after the 1984 Olympic gold medallist Tessa Sanderson (who was from Wednesfield), before meeting the earlier route at a roundabout.
The old route passed New Cross Hospital, and along the narrow Rookery Street and through the now pedestrianised Wednesfield High Street before a TOTSO at a roundabout at the junction with Wood End Road. The route from there to the present route along Lichfield Road is now part of B4484.
Wednesfield - Bloxwich
All in all, the first part of the next section is an unremarkable single carriageway road, with occasional minor points of interest to keep you amused. First amongst them is the remains of the former trolleybus turning circle just west of the junction with Linthouse Lane, though since some bus stop remodelling around 2004, it is very difficult to pick it out without knowing what you are looking for. At Linthouse Lane itself, there stood the final remaining Pre-Worboys directional signage in the city - being a local sign with blue edges pointing towards Ashmore Park Estate, which was removed on 17 July 2010. This junction (along with the nearby Stubby Lane junction) was remodelled in 2010 as a pair of roundabouts instead of the previous staggered junction in order to help the peak time congestion in the area.
Before too long, the route passes out of the city and into the Metropolitan Borough of Walsall and almost immediately afterwards is met by a former reserved line for a new highway that, depending on where you read, was to be either a decent-standard dual carriageway or a motorway leading from Ettingshall, near Bilston, all the way out to the A5 near Brownhills. Whilst the line is very obvious (and enormous!) to the south of the A4124, and easily wide enough for a D3M motorway, as the upgrade east of this point was mostly on-line, it seems that the most likely outcome would be for an all-purpose upgrade. The improvement line continues along the south side of the road, and it is very noticeable that the majority of the properties until the next dualled section are set well back from the road.
As for the present road, it meets A462 at a roundabout junction at the rather marvellously named New Invention before getting its dual carriageway for the next short section, before losing it just to the west of the bridge carrying the M6. The space is still there for the dualling, however, and the motorway bridge is massively wide although the A4124 is only slightly offset.
The route slowly degenerates in quality until it reaches Bloxwich, where it once terminated on the A34 before gaining the extension to the east in the 1970s.
Bloxwich - Brownhills
The junction at the A34 is slightly staggered (though it has been somewhat eased for eastbound traffic over the years), which marks a bit of a change of character. Through the eastern areas of Bloxwich, the road is relatively unremarkable, with a single light-controlled junction being as exciting as the route gets. Before too long, however, the road follows two sweeping corners, and suddenly the space opens up and the space for the formerly planned "future" upgrade becomes very obvious, with properties once again being set back a long way from the road.
Despite being almost entirely urban in character, this section meets no other classified roads until it reaches the B4154 in Pelsall at the remarkably well-known junction known simply as The Fingerpost.
The final section of the route is a sudden change to the previous scenery, which was mostly residential housing. Without much warning, the road suddenly leaves the urban area, and becomes much wider than before, but this more pleasant change is then reversed, and more, by the road's entry into a purely industrial setting, with factories and warehouses to either side.
Before too much longer, the route returns to a lower-standard route through residential housing (and we lose the former reserved improvement line), entering Brownhills via several junctions that have been slightly improved since 2000 before coming to a standstill on the A452 near to the former Brownhills railway station at the junction known as Brownhills Bridge.
Over the years, the A4124 has been slowly extended, taking over part of the B4155 on every occasion.
In the 1922 Road Lists, the present route of A4124 was allocated the number B4155 into Wolverhampton city centre along Broad Street. The A4124 number first appeared on the section between Wolverhampton and Bloxwich, where it ended on the A455 (present A34). The renumbering took place in 1927-28. The use of the A4124 number is shown on 1932 Ordnance Survey mapping.
The road later gained the section between Bloxwich and Brownhills, yet again originally part of B4155 in the early 1980s. As the remaining stub of B4155 is relatively insignificant (even more so after it was truncated when its eastern end was severed by the M6 Toll), it seems unlikely that the A4124 will one day take over the final section.
Other than the realignment on the Wednesfield bypass in the 1990s, the only loss of length for the road is a short section in Wolverhampton city centre in the 1970s, where prior to the construction of the Inner Ring Road, the route started at the junction of Stafford Street and Broad Street.