A1/Birtley - Morpeth
|The Great North Road
|25.3 miles (40.7 km)
|A1(M), A692, A184, A69, A167, A696, A19, A697
|A613, A69, A6125
|Old route now:
|A167, A167(M), B1318
County Durham • Northumberland
|Route outline (key)
The A1 between Washington and Morpeth is an all-purpose dual carriageway with no at-grade junctions. The Gateshead section of the road can get very congested, due to the sheer number of junctions in the area.
Newcastle Western Bypass: J65 to J80
The A1(M) terminates at the Birtley Interchange (Junction 65) with connections into Newcastle on the A194(M). The now A1 is dual carriageway as it has to turn nearly westwards to successfully bypass the growing places of Gateshead and Newcastle. At Birtley, the A1 makes a TOTSO northbound - this is because historically the A1 followed the path of the A194(M) - and in doing so, drops down to two lanes through the junction.
The road doesn't remain two lanes for long as at the junction the A1231 merges and the road becomes three lanes again. This is due to the proximity of the next junction, Eighton Lodge Interchange (Junction 66). This used to be the end of the Birtley Bypass, and before the opening of the Tyne Tunnel the A1 followed the A167 here. A notable feature of this junction is The Angel Of The North nearby.
The road drops a lane here and we are now on the Newcastle Western Bypass proper. This is a very busy section of the route, with numerous, closely spaced junctions and tight alignments. After crossing the East Coast Main Line our next junction is the Coalhouse Interchange (Junction 67). This is a standard roundabout junction that caters for the Team Valley Trading Estate.
From here onwards, we gain a lane. However this section of the bypass has a 50mph limit due to the volumes of traffic and the narrow lanes - the third lane has a width limit and the central reservation has been narrowed in order to squeeze all the lanes in. The motorway bends to the right, along the side of the Trading Estate and meets the A692 and B1426 at Lobley Hill Interchange (Junction 68). Collector/Distributor lanes have been built between here and Gateshead Quays Interchange (Junction 69). This is a curious looking directional T interchange for the A184 into Gateshead and Newcastle.
In quick succession we now encounter two diamond interchanges - the Dunston Interchange (Junction 70) and the Metro Centre Interchange (Junction 71). Both roads are unclassified, but the latter can get very busy, and so the A1 drops a lane to cater for the traffic leaving here. The road gains a third lane after the junction, but immediately loses it again at the Swalwell Interchange (Junction 72). This road is only accessible from the east (northbound) and serves the B6317. The motorway rises up over the slip roads and onto a bridge over the River Derwent, remaining on an embankment until reaching Derwenthaugh Interchange (Junction 73). This complicated junction allows access to the A694 and a route into Newcastle via the Scotswood Bridge and the north bank of the River Tyne. The A1 also crosses the Tyne, continuing on an embankment and viaduct, then over the river on the Blaydon Bridge.
After the bridge, we meet the sliproads from the Scotswood Interchange (Junction 74) which allows traffic to go to and from the north from the A695. The A1 temporarily gains a lane as it straightens out on the approach to Denton Burn Interchange (Junction 75), and we lose a lane through the junction. A lot of traffic turns off here for the A69 to Hexham and the A186 into the city. Lane drops through junctions is common here, as it occurs at Westerhope Interchange (Junction 76, B6324) and Kenton Bar (Junction 77). This junction serves the A696 towards the airport and the A167 and so from here onwards the A1 drops down to two lanes.
The A1 becomes a bit less hectic now, and for the next few miles there is only the Fawdon Interchange (Junction 78) and North Brunton Interchange (Junction 79). This is where the Great North Road (B1318, former A1) meets us once again. Turning to the north, the A1 starts to hit open countryside again, and then meets the end of the A19 at Seaton Burn (Junction 80). This trumpet interchange is the end of the A19, and was originally part of the A1 in the 1970s and 80s when the road went via the Tyne Tunnel.
Seaton Burn to Morpeth
From Seaton Burn onwards the A1 loses its junction numbers and takes on a more rural feel. It is still a two lane dual carriageway, and this section bypasses the small village of Blagdon - the old road running just to the west of the modern one. The A1 joins up with the old road briefly at a strange junction for Shotton village (for some reason the northbound off-slip is missing) before parting ways again at the start of the Stannington bypass. This exit only has a northbound exit, following the old road, however there is a dumbbell interchange to the north of the village which provides access in all directions.
The road is now obviously becoming a lower standard than the motorist has been accustomed to over the last 100 miles or so, with farm accesses, small side roads and gaps in the central barrier for pedestrians. However the A1 is more than good enough for the lower flow of traffic at this point. Soon we arrive at a modified fork junction with the B1337. This was originally the start of the A197 before the Morpeth Northern Bypass opened. Now this junction mainly provides access to the county town of Morpeth from the south.
We are now on the Morpeth (Western) Bypass, and the road passes over the B6524 and the B6343 without junctions. At the northern end of the town, we reach a dumbbell interchange, built in 2016 for the Morpeth Northern Bypass - this route has taken the number A197. Just to the north of here was a north facing fork for the A192, known as the Fair Moor Interchange. This was closed on the opening of the Northern Bypass, and the sliproads are now grassed over.
Less than a mile from here, we come across a large fork junction for the A697 - the Warreners House Interchange. This is the Coldstream route to Edinburgh via the A68, which takes a more direct route over the hills, whereas the A1 follows the coastline. Just after the fork, the A1 becomes an S2 single carriageway for the first time since leaving London.
The original route was through the centre of Newcastle, and included the Central Motorway East when that was built.
1977 to 1990 - the Tyne Tunnel
It was rerouted via Testos Roundabout, the Tyne Tunnel and the Tyne Tunnel Northern Approach Road in 1977 and the old route de-trunked. This provided a bypass route for Newcastle and diverted much traffic, although some drivers continued to use the City route to avoid the tunnel toll or the Gateshead Western Bypass, Scotswood Bridge and residential roads across to Gosforth to regain the A1, much to the consternation of the locals.
1990 onwards - Gateshead and Newcastle Western Bypasses
The A1 was further re-routed onto the Western bypasses in 1990, following the opening of the Newcastle Western Bypass in that year, and this provided a fully dual carriageway bypass of the City (the Tyne Tunnel was originally single carriageway). This connected to the Wide Open and Seaton Burn bypass and the A1 north.
Junction numbers were added as far north as Seaton Burn in 2014.
1970: Seaton Burn and Blagdon Bypass
A two-lane dual carriageway bypass of Seaton Burn and Blagdon.
1970: Morpeth Bypass
A two-lane dual carriageway bypass of Morpeth.
1976: Gateshead Bypass
The section between the now A194(M) at J65 and Denton Burn Interchange (J75) was constructed as the Gateshead Bypass via the Scotswood Bridge. Originally designated as the A613, it was quickly renumbered as part of the A69 until the construction of the Newcastle Western Bypass in 1990, when the A1 was rerouted from the Tyne Tunnel.
1986: Stannington Bypass
A section of two lane dual carriageway constructed to link the Blaydon and Morpeth Bypassess.
1990: Newcastle Western Bypass
2004: Stannington Grade Separated Junction
A new grade separated junction was built at Stannington, allowing four at-grade junctions to be closed, to improve safety and journey times (with the removal of a 50mph speed limit that was imposed on the section).
The Gateshead bypass between J67 and J71 will be widened to D3.
- The A1 Birtley to Coal House Development Consent Order 2021 - This Order authorises Highways England to undertake works to alter the A1 between land north of junction 67 (Coal House) and junction 65 (Birtley) near Gateshead in Type and Wear and carry out all associated works.