A1/Baldock - Alconbury
|The Great North Road|
|Distance:||27 miles (43.5 km)|
|Meets:||A1(M), A14, A421, A428, A507, A603, A6001, B645, B661, B658, B1041, B1042, B1043, B1048, B1514|
Bedfordshire • Huntingdonshire
|Route outline (key)|
Starting just to the north of Baldock, where the A1(M) meets the A507 and Baldock services the route quality drops from motorway standard into an unusual arrangement of dual carriageway with trees down the central reserve. This arrangement came about when the road was upgraded, the southbound carriageway is the old route of the A1 and follows a slight kink, the northbound carriageway was new and constructed along a more direct path to avoid the kink.
Between here and Biggleswade, the route follows the line of the old Roman Road, with old maps suggesting that the section to the south of Hinksworth Road was upgraded in the early 1960's by placing a new carriageway to the western side of the existing and that the section to the north was upgraded at a similar time by placing a new carriageway to the eastern side of the existing road. The access to Edworth at Topler's Hill was improved much later in 2000.
The 3 mile long Biggleswade Bypass was opened in 1960, the junction to the south where the A1 meets the old route, which is now the A6001 was originally a priority junction, with improvements made in the 1970's and a further improvement made in in the form of a roundabout in the 1990's(?) to service the nearby industrial estate. The bypass curves around the west of Biggleswade, forming a development barrier and crossing over the ECML, the B659 and the River Ivel before a roundabout junction where it meets the A6001 again and the B658. The bypass continued north for another third of a mile before rejoining the original line of the A1
The original A1 can still be seen through the trees, leading from the current southbound carriageway, to the grounds of the Sainsbury supermarket at the roundabout.
Continuing north, we are on a dual carriageway with a 60 limit, going down to a 50 limit. It appears that the northbound carriageway is the original as it is lined with older properties. At Lower Caldecote the A1 used to flow through the village but now runs to the east of it. This section 'feels' narrow and has numerous small junctions, including right turns hence the speed cameras.
Approaching Sandy, the old road can be seen exiting to the left to the A603 towards Bedford. It used to curve west before a sharp right bend, passing the current petrol station, becoming London Road through Sandy. Continuing instead on the current A1, we hit another roundabout. Going straight on we have a section of 50 limit, rising and falling over a bridge then the road straightens and is national speed limit at last.
A GSJ to our left takes traffic over the A1 towards Little Barford and into the south of St Neots. It's a useful shortcut to the A428 avoiding the Black Cat roundabout. Tempsford Church End is to our left as we stay on its bypass. On this carriageway we follow the original line through a couple of sharp bends over the River Great Ouse. The southbound has a straighter route. Shortly we arrive at the infamous Black Cat roundabout. Despite a number of upgrades, it is still a cause of many holdups. The first exit is Bedford Road, followed by its bypass, the A421, the next exit being the A1. The A421 traffic multiplexes with us as far as the sliproad taking traffic off to the A428. This exit is the point where the Great North Road follows its old route still, through Eaton Socon. We stay on the A1 on another bypass to the west.
We have a few miles of unremarkable dual carriageway at the NSL. A GSJ provides access to the old A45 east-west route, downgraded to the B645 when the A14 was rerouted.
We pass Little Paxton to our east, bypassing another section of the Great North Road. Shortly we hit a 60 limit with average speed cameras. These were introduced to combat years of serious crashes through the 'Southoe Bends'. The limit remain in force until shortly before the last roundabout on this section at Buckden. Taking the third exit takes us through the village on the old A1/Great North Road. Taking the second exit instead we continue on the Buckden bypass, a 50 limit which is never observed although there are several small junctions and a right turn. We continue over a bridge, under which now carries traffic to Brampton on the B1514, but until 1959 was part of the Midland Railway line. Some of the track bed can still be seen to the west. Back in NSL now, we are on a straighter line in open country. This section has been bypassed twice, the original single carriageway A1 route to Brampton Hut was bypassed to the east by a dual carriageway, which in turn became part of the A14 as part of the Huntingdon to Cambridge improvement works. The present A1(M) carriageway then was built over the original line of the route. At Brampton Hut, the A1 is elevated above the roundabout. Although the Hut is long gone, the services here still use the name. The original A1 route was again just to the west here, running through the service area.
Further on we have a GSJ where we could leave the A1 and follow the old road which runs parallel on our right. Staying on the A1 all the A14 (or A604(M) if you prefer) traffic barges in from our left as we go from 2 to 3 to 4 lanes and are once again on the A1(M)
A series of bypasses where constructed through the 1950s and 1960s around the new suburban commuter areas of Middlesex and several market towns in the Midlands. These schemes massively reduced travel times on the Great North Road and provided vital relief for traffic-choked towns.
- The Biggleswade South Roundabout has been re-aligned and widened to increase capacity and to take into account the new retail park being opened in 2015/16.
- A14 Huntingdon to Cambridge Improvement
- In 2016 a strategic interim report was published into the route.
In August 2016 it was proposed that the A1 could be upgraded between Huntingdon and Baldock upgraded to a motorway so there would be a continuous motorway between Peterborough and London. 
In February 2019 it was announced that should the A14 become a motorway then this section of the A1(M) would be reclassified as the A1(M).
- A1 east of England strategic study: interim report (18 August 2016)