Forgotten GB road numbering system - Essential Traffic Routes

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Re: Forgotten GB road numbering system - Essential Traffic Routes

Post by JohnnyMo »

RichardA35 wrote: Mon Jun 27, 2022 19:18
JohnnyMo wrote: Mon Jun 27, 2022 17:48

What town is that in ? Also the A45 was not a trunk road between St Neots & Northampton (1946)
Not just a possibility - Wellingborough is mentioned by the poster of the photograph and the modern view of the location is in the previous post to yours.
Yes I mis-read the original post as "towards Wellingborough" rather than "towards Wellingborough town centre" :oops:
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Re: Forgotten GB road numbering system - Essential Traffic Routes

Post by RichardA35 »

The red and blue routes appear to have been used as the base map for the D Day preparations as can be seen for example at a few internet locations:
https://theddaystory.com/discover/resea ... and-d-day/
https://www.worldmapsonline.com/histori ... lord-1944/
https://www.dday.org/2019/06/02/the-por ... h-england/
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Re: Forgotten GB road numbering system - Essential Traffic Routes

Post by JohnnyMo »

FosseWay wrote: Mon Jun 27, 2022 16:58
Bryn666 wrote: Mon Jun 27, 2022 16:03 I'm trying to work out what the white sign below says - W. D. Circular Route? Presumably, given it has the same stencilling it's also for a military purpose.
I read it either as W.D. or W.O. - War Department or War Office. Same difference as far as the purpose is concerned. For some reason I associate "WD" with the First rather than the Second World War, but I may be wrong on that.
I assume the Circular Route is a sort of by-pass -- North B5386 towards A509 & A510 South A45 then B571 & maybe the B573
WD could also stand for Wellingborough [Urban] District
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Re: Forgotten GB road numbering system - Essential Traffic Routes

Post by JohnnyMo »

RichardA35 wrote: Mon Jun 27, 2022 20:49 The red and blue routes appear to have been used as the base map for the D Day preparations as can be seen for example at a few internet locations:
https://theddaystory.com/discover/resea ... and-d-day/
https://www.worldmapsonline.com/histori ... lord-1944/
https://www.dday.org/2019/06/02/the-por ... h-england/
probably the easiest colours to overprint with, seem blue inbound, one way or US red outbound, two way or British, depending on the map rather than red being more important
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Re: Forgotten GB road numbering system - Essential Traffic Routes

Post by Graham »

Steven wrote: Wed Jun 22, 2022 15:20 Has anyone ever come across Essential Traffic Routes before?
Yes, although not under that name.

I have been meaning to post about this subject on SABRE for some time, as I have a map in my private collection that appears to be unique - certainly Roger Hellyer, author of the book on 10-inch OS maps (inter alia), had not come across anything like it when I showed it to him.

It is a quarter-inch map of Lincolnshire and the immediate area to the west of Lincs (as far as Doncaster and Leicester), depicting the network of Essential Traffic Routes in that area as of November 1940 (although the map does not use the term "Essential Traffic Routes").

Sorry that this is just a teaser - I have to go out now but I will post some more info later this evening.
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Re: Forgotten GB road numbering system - Essential Traffic Routes

Post by Graham »

Here is a summary of the information on my quarter-inch map. Inter alia, this answers several questions raised elsewhere in this thread.

- The title of the map is "Northern Command Outline Edition, sheet E". I think this (the command system) is where the prefixes come from; the full list of commands at the time was Northern, Southern, Eastern, Western, Scottish and Aldershot. Until a map of southern England is found, it won't be clear how the Southern and Scottish commands were distinguished from each other, and whether the Aldershot Command issued any road numbers of its own.

- the quarter-inch map depicts four different classes of roads, not two, coloured red, blue, green and yellow. The legend of the map contains the following information:

"Red, blue, green coloured roads will - if ordered - be restricted for the services and essential civil vehicles. They will both be kept clear of traffic and repaired in the above order"
"Yellow roads will be reserved for pedestrians if the evacuation of certain towns becomes necessary"
"Road numbers are only for use and reference inside Northern Command"

- All red and blue roads are numbered (there are a couple of spurs in the blue network). Most green roads are un-numbered, but a few are. The numbering of green roads uses the same system as the blue roads, but generally higher numbers. So, for example, N105, N106 and N120 are green. Blue roads on this sheet are mostly numbered in the range N66-N111, but there is one outlier - the N33 (the A19 leading north from Doncaster). All yellow roads are un-numbered.

- All numbered roads have printed bars across them when the road comes to an end at a junction with another road (but not if the road just peters out). This is an interesting practice, which I am sure I have seen somewhere else before but can't remember where. One green road has the bars on it but is not numbered.

- All numbered roads have the prefix "N", even the red ones. The main road on the map is the N100 which is, as you would expect, the A1 (so is consistent with the 10-mile map)

- There is one discrepancy between my map and the map on the SABRE website. On the 1940 quarter-inch map, the N208 is shown running from Boston to Stamford (the A16) and onwards from there (following the A43). But route 208 is shown on the 1943 10-mile map, running from Carlisle to Jedburgh. This suggests that the scheme did undergo some revision during its lifetime; this should be easily checkable as it appears that copies of the 1939 and 1940 editions of sheet 1 are available somewhere.

- My map is printed "SECRET" (on the red plate) and has the print code T.S. 12e. 500.11/40. A print run of 500 feels to me to be quite high for a classified map.
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Re: Forgotten GB road numbering system - Essential Traffic Routes

Post by FosseWay »

Graham wrote: Wed Jun 29, 2022 22:07 - My map is printed "SECRET" (on the red plate) and has the print code T.S. 12e. 500.11/40. A print run of 500 feels to me to be quite high for a classified map.
Your whole post is fascinating - thanks for sharing - but I can't add anything or answer any questions other than to comment on the bit I've quoted here.

If the print code works like contemporary "normal" OS codes, then 500 is the print run, as you surmise, and 11/40 is the date (month/year). By November 1940, the imminent invasion scare was over. I can't imagine that the War Office came up with this military classification system and routes intended for use by civilians when evacuating towns en masse in November 1940. It must have existed earlier that year, and entirely probably for several years before that.
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Re: Forgotten GB road numbering system - Essential Traffic Routes

Post by rileyrob »

Assuming the TS means Top Secret?
Is it plausible that the 12e means 12th edition?
I would imagine that most of these maps were returned and/or destroyed when new copies were produced to prevent any getting into the wrong hands, which is why so few survive.
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Re: Forgotten GB road numbering system - Essential Traffic Routes

Post by JohnnyMo »

rileyrob wrote: Thu Jun 30, 2022 11:22 Assuming the TS means Top Secret?
Is it plausible that the 12e means 12th edition?
I would imagine that most of these maps were returned and/or destroyed when new copies were produced to prevent any getting into the wrong hands, which is why so few survive.
Yes I've worked in the defence industry where classified documents were used. There was a register of every secret document and these were individually numbers and assigned to a names individual.
If a new version was issued someone had the job of reissuing all the documents and destroy the old ones.
That said there was always an archive version of old documents somewhere.

Unlike the D-Day plans which are marked TOP SECRET and numbered the Essential Traffic Routes does not have a recognised security classification or a number. Was SECURITY a classification during world war 2.

IIRC Classified & Restricted were not numbered or issued to a named individual but were expected to be treated with care and not left unattended in a public place.
Last edited by JohnnyMo on Thu Jun 30, 2022 16:45, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Forgotten GB road numbering system - Essential Traffic Routes

Post by Graham »

rileyrob wrote: Thu Jun 30, 2022 11:22 Assuming the TS means Top Secret?
Is it plausible that the 12e means 12th edition?
I would imagine that most of these maps were returned and/or destroyed when new copies were produced to prevent any getting into the wrong hands, which is why so few survive.
I think you may be correct regarding the interpretation of "12e", but not "T.S." "Top Secret" was not used as a classification in the UK until 1942 (prior to that the highest level of classification was "Most Secret"), and in any case the map is classified "Secret" (which was - and still is - a lower level of classification).

In military print codes, letters like this are generally used to signify who printed the map, particularly during WW2 when much of the printing was contracted out. Having said that, the letters are usually at the end of the code rather than the beginning, and I cannot find a reference to "T.S." in "Military Maps" by Hellyer and Oliver (Appendix 4 gives a list of the letter codes found on one-inch maps).
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Re: Forgotten GB road numbering system - Essential Traffic Routes

Post by Graham »

Steven wrote: Wed Jun 22, 2022 15:20 The Charles Close Society's publication The Ten Mile Maps of the Ordnance Surveys by Roger Hellyer states that there were four editions of Sheet 1 (Scotland and northern England) printed, in 1939, 1940, 1941 and 1943, with a copy of a fifth edition (the Third Edition as published) not being found by the author; and no copies of Sheet 2 (the rest of England and Wales) being found. The use of specific "Editions" would suggest that the numbering itself was altered during WW2, though (less likely) it could be simply that reprints were required.
I've just taken a look at "The Ten Mile Maps" book - as you say, Roger (Hellyer) lists five editions of sheet 1, one of which (the third edition) had not been seen by him at the time of the publication of the book (1992). The relevant page (for anyone else who has a copy) is page 126.

Looking at the notes, it would appear that that only the fifth edition was known at the time in a public location. The first and second editions are listed as "RH" (which means Roger's own collection), and the fourth edition is "PC" (which means an unspecified private collection).

Moreover, I suspect that only the fifth edition contains road numbers. Roger adds the phrase "with military road numbers" to his description of the fifth edition, but this phrase is conspicuous by its absence from the descriptions of the other editions.

The book has not been updated since 1992, so it is possible that more is now known about this series of maps. I will drop Roger an email to alert him to this discussion and ask him if he has anything more to add.
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Re: Forgotten GB road numbering system - Essential Traffic Routes

Post by KeithW »

Graham wrote: Thu Jun 30, 2022 16:40 I think you may be correct regarding the interpretation of "12e", but not "T.S." "Top Secret" was not used as a classification in the UK until 1942 (prior to that the highest level of classification was "Most Secret"), and in any case the map is classified "Secret" (which was - and still is - a lower level of classification).

In military print codes, letters like this are generally used to signify who printed the map, particularly during WW2 when much of the printing was contracted out. Having said that, the letters are usually at the end of the code rather than the beginning, and I cannot find a reference to "T.S." in "Military Maps" by Hellyer and Oliver (Appendix 4 gives a list of the letter codes found on one-inch maps).
In 1979 the levels of classification officially applied by the MOD (Navy) were

PROTECT
RESTRICTED
CONFIDENTIAL
SECRET
TOP SECRET

The first 3 were not widely understood , we had in the office British Standards and standard text books that were available in Middlesbrough public library with variations on all the above.

By that time we had been instructed to only use CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET and TOP SECRET. If nothing else producing drawings (by good old fashioned drawing board and pencil) meant having to take anything with any level of classification back to the security office at night and signing it out again the next day. In the end it was decided that this was only required for SECRET and TOP SECRET.

When in 2002 I was working for the UK AEA there were rumours of a level SECRET ATOMIC that had been previously used in Building 220 (the plutonium research building) later the Atomic weapon section was transferred Aldermaston AWE in the 1950's and plutonium research to Sellafield.
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Re: Forgotten GB road numbering system - Essential Traffic Routes

Post by JohnnyMo »

KeithW wrote: Thu Jun 30, 2022 19:45
Graham wrote: Thu Jun 30, 2022 16:40 I think you may be correct regarding the interpretation of "12e", but not "T.S." "Top Secret" was not used as a classification in the UK until 1942 (prior to that the highest level of classification was "Most Secret"), and in any case the map is classified "Secret" (which was - and still is - a lower level of classification).

In military print codes, letters like this are generally used to signify who printed the map, particularly during WW2 when much of the printing was contracted out. Having said that, the letters are usually at the end of the code rather than the beginning, and I cannot find a reference to "T.S." in "Military Maps" by Hellyer and Oliver (Appendix 4 gives a list of the letter codes found on one-inch maps).
In 1979 the levels of classification officially applied by the MOD (Navy) were

PROTECT
RESTRICTED
CONFIDENTIAL
SECRET
TOP SECRET

The first 3 were not widely understood , we had in the office British Standards and standard text books that were available in Middlesbrough public library with variations on all the above.

By that time we had been instructed to only use CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET and TOP SECRET. If nothing else producing drawings (by good old fashioned drawing board and pencil) meant having to take anything with any level of classification back to the security office at night and signing it out again the next day. In the end it was decided that this was only required for SECRET and TOP SECRET.

When in 2002 I was working for the UK AEA there were rumours of a level SECRET ATOMIC that had been previously used in Building 220 (the plutonium research building) later the Atomic weapon section was transferred Aldermaston AWE in the 1950's and plutonium research to Sellafield.
Never heard of PROTECT, the rule of thumb I told was any classification can be prefixed with a project or area designation (NATO, Tornado, Personal...). I assume suffixed as well given your example. Unless the individual is explicitly cleared for that designation then their clearance would have to be a level higher to see that document.

So a document marked TORNADO SECRET, then someone working on the Tornado Project either for BAe, Panavia or RAF and cleared to see SECRET documents can access it. However, someone not on the project would need TOP SECRET clearance to access it.

Also my sister as a NHS nurse was covered by the Official Secrets Act: medical records etc were CONFIDENTIAL, budgets etc were RESTRICTED
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Re: Forgotten GB road numbering system - Essential Traffic Routes

Post by AndyB »

Footnote: Restricted and Confidential have been merged into Official in recent years, suffixed by descriptors eg Official - Sensitive, Official - Staff etc.
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Re: Forgotten GB road numbering system - Essential Traffic Routes

Post by KeithW »

JohnnyMo wrote: Thu Jun 30, 2022 20:41
Never heard of PROTECT, the rule of thumb I told was any classification can be prefixed with a project or area designation (NATO, Tornado, Personal...). I assume suffixed as well given your example. Unless the individual is explicitly cleared for that designation then their clearance would have to be a level higher to see that document.

So a document marked TORNADO SECRET, then someone working on the Tornado Project either for BAe, Panavia or RAF and cleared to see SECRET documents can access it. However, someone not on the project would need TOP SECRET clearance to access it.

Also my sister as a NHS nurse was covered by the Official Secrets Act: medical records etc were CONFIDENTIAL, budgets etc were RESTRICTED
PROTECT was not a classification we used, RESTRICTED was the minimum but it was still in the security briefing we got on joining. We were involved in the PWR2 project which was developing the reactors for the Trident boats, my little bit was the Steam Generator. I had done some nuclear work before but onshore plant isnt expected to keep working at high pitch and roll angles :)

This was an ultra paranoid period and almost everything was classified. I used a set of steam tables that were in Middlesbrough public library but our copy was stamped RESTRICTED, that job was where I saw my first Personal Computer - a Commodore PET. We werent allowed to use the company mainframe as it was deemed insecure.

Image

Ours was a top end model with twin floppy disk drives :)
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Re: Forgotten GB road numbering system - Essential Traffic Routes

Post by Graham »

Graham wrote: Thu Jun 30, 2022 17:38 The book has not been updated since 1992, so it is possible that more is now known about this series of maps. I will drop Roger an email to alert him to this discussion and ask him if he has anything more to add.
I have now heard back from Roger. He has confirmed that several more sheets have been located since 1992. The main sources are Cambridge University Library and the MOD Collection at the British Library. Of particular interest is the fifth edition of sheet 2, as this shows main and regional road numbers. There is a copy of both sheets (1 & 2) of the fifth edition at the following location:

BL Maps MOD GSGS 3993, BL Maps 1140 (100).

The fourth edition shows main numbers but not regional numbers; the first three editions do not show numbers at all.

I pointed out in a previous post that route 208 appears to have been re-routed between 1940 and 1943. Roger has compiled a list of the 26 national routes (from the fourth edition as of December 1941), and I can see from this list that at least four others were re-routed between 1940 and 1941 (they either appear on my 1940 map but shouldn't according to the 1941 list, or vice-versa). This suggests that the network was revised substantially during its short lifetime.

Roger's research is due to be published by the Charles Close Society in the near or nearish future as part of a comprehensive new book co-authored with Richard Oliver entitled ‘Ordnance Survey small scale maps”.
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Re: Forgotten GB road numbering system - Essential Traffic Routes

Post by Chris5156 »

Graham wrote: Sun Jul 03, 2022 16:30
Graham wrote: Thu Jun 30, 2022 17:38 The book has not been updated since 1992, so it is possible that more is now known about this series of maps. I will drop Roger an email to alert him to this discussion and ask him if he has anything more to add.
I have now heard back from Roger. He has confirmed that several more sheets have been located since 1992. The main sources are Cambridge University Library and the MOD Collection at the British Library. Of particular interest is the fifth edition of sheet 2, as this shows main and regional road numbers. There is a copy of both sheets (1 & 2) of the fifth edition at the following location:

BL Maps MOD GSGS 3993, BL Maps 1140 (100).

The fourth edition shows main numbers but not regional numbers; the first three editions do not show numbers at all.

I pointed out in a previous post that route 208 appears to have been re-routed between 1940 and 1943. Roger has compiled a list of the 26 national routes (from the fourth edition as of December 1941), and I can see from this list that at least four others were re-routed between 1940 and 1941 (they either appear on my 1940 map but shouldn't according to the 1941 list, or vice-versa). This suggests that the network was revised substantially during its short lifetime.

Roger's research is due to be published by the Charles Close Society in the near or nearish future as part of a comprehensive new book co-authored with Richard Oliver entitled ‘Ordnance Survey small scale maps”.
This is fascinating - thank you. It suggests we may yet get a full listing of these numbers for the wiki, which would be great.
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Re: Forgotten GB road numbering system - Essential Traffic Routes

Post by rileyrob »

I have just come across something interesting which may or may not be related. Causewayhead Roundabout in Stirling has long been an important crossroads on the main road north, which has been the A9 for a century now. In 1938 the OS mapped it as it had presumably been for centuries, apart from a steady increase in buildings clustered around the junction: https://maps.nls.uk/view/75676155. However, the 1948 revision published in 1951 essentially shows the current layout: https://maps.nls.uk/view/75676152, with two buildings at the top of Causewayhead Road removed.
As all four arms of this junction were part of the ETR network, it seems plausible that the junction was widened to allow the large vehicles involved in military convoys etc to negotiate the turns better, and that the traffic island may not have been installed until after the war when the council tried to tidy it up a bit.
Of course, it may just be a coincidence, but it would be interesting to know if any other similar changes were made during the war on the ETR network.
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From the SABRE Wiki: Causewayhead Roundabout :

Causewayhead sits below Abbey Craig at the head of the mile-long Causeway across the Carse of Stirling. It is a historic meeting place, both for roads and people, and in times gone by this northern part of the county of Stirling was a regular haunt of cattle rustlers and other people of dubious standards, as they could quickly escape across the county boundary to either Perthshire or Clackmannan which at the time came under

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