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A1/Early Improvements

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Improvements

Listed by date, then by north to south.

1926: Colsterworth Bypass

The 2 mile long bypass opened on 4 February 1926, cost £33,500. The width between fences was 60 feet with a 20 foot single carriageway. It was dualled later. About 0.3 miles of the northernmost alignment survives due to a later deviation.

1927: Welwyn Bypass

It was designed to avoid the steep hill and awkward bends through Welwyn. It ran off at a gentle angle from the foot of Digswell Hill, crossed the Welwyn - Hertford road on a ferro-concrete bridge with a 40 foot span into Lockleys Park and emerged into the existing roadway at the foot of Mardley Hill. It became part of B197 in 1960s.

1927: Barnet and Hatfield Bypass

The northernmost section between Stanborough and Stirling Corner was fully opened on 19 October 1927. Some shorter sections had been opened in the months prior to this. It had a uniform width of 100 feet which included a 30 foot carriageway and 10 foot footpaths running either side. Cables and pipes were laid in the grass verges. Initially opened as A5092. It became A555 in 1935 and A1 around 1954.

1928: East Linton Bypass

The 2/3 mile bypass opened following the new bridge over the East Coast Main Line being put into place on 2 December 1928. The new iron bridge weighed 160 tons and was run into position on a trolley mounted on rails (some trolley!). It allowed a 50 foot roadway below it. A separate bridge over the River Tyne had been constructed in 1927. The bypass was later renumbered as A199.

1928: Tyne Bridge

Opened on 10 October 1928 by King George V, accompanied by a 21 gun Royal Salute and flyover by a Gypsy Moth airplane. It was then the largest single span bridge in Europe. The steel arch bridge cost £1,225,000. Now part of A167.

1928: Foston Bypass

Opened on 29 February 1928. Single carriageway, dualled later. Part of a road improvement scheme embarked upon by Kesteven County Council in July 1925 which comprised the strengthening and widening of a ten mile stretch from the Grantham boundary at Gonerby Hill foot to the Nottinghamshire boundary four miles south of Newark. Scheme cost was £100,000 funded by Ministry of Transport. The bypass road was just short of a mile in length. The carriageway was 20 feet wide with an 8 inch concrete foundation and 1.5 inch layer of asphalt. Kerbing was pre-cast concrete and a splendid footpath was laid on the east side of the road.

1928: Barnet Bypass

The Southern section from Stirling Corner to Great North Road at Highgate opened on 18 October 1928 making 17.5 miles in total. Some shorter sections had been opened in the months prior to this. It was built as a 30 foot single carriageway within a 100 foot boundary. When complete it was not given the A1 number, which kept to its original route through the towns. The road initially had separate numbers for the three sections: A5092, A5088 (a joint section of the Watford Bypass) and A5093. It became A555 in 1935 and A1 around 1954.

1929: Wansford Bypass

The 0.9 mile long bypass was opened on 23 March 1929. It included a 20 foot Single carriageway and 5 foot footpath within a 40 foot boundary. There was a new bridge over the River Nene with a main span of 110 feet and flood arch spans of 50 feet either side. See Wansford Bypass Bridge. It was built of mass concrete in order to conform with the old-world character of the local architecture. The bridge now forms the northbound carriageway, following a second bridge being built in 1975. The road had taken 2.5 years to build and cost £68,000. It was dualled later.

1930: Aycliffe Bypass

A half mile bypass west of village and road straightening south of the village. Later renumbered to A167.

1930: Sutton-on-Trent Bypass

The 0.5 mile road opened on 23 July 1930 and included a bridge over the East Coast Main Line railway to bypass the level crossing. The single carriageway was 30 foot wide. Sadly there was a fatal accident within 8 hours of opening.

1931: Chester-le-Street Bypass

The 2 mile long bypass was opened on 28 February 1931 by W.J. Merrett, County Surveyor. The road was 40 foot wide and included a girder bridge over Chester Burn which was 80 foot wide and had a span of 35 foot. Scheme cost was £120,812 of which 85 per cent was funded by the Ministry. Work had begun in September 1929 giving employment to 630 men. It was later renumbered as A167 with the northernmost 500m being B6290.

1931: Ferrybridge Bypass

First bypass for town. A half mile long deviation from south of River Aire bridge to the Doncaster Road south of town. Now A162.

1931: Carlton on Trent Bypass

First bypass for village. A 0.75 mile long deviation on west side of village. Northernmost 500 feet is now the B1164 southbound slip road to join A1.

1932: Haddington Bypass

It had officially opened by May 1932, although still to be surfaced in parts. Now part of A199.

1932: Bilsdean Glen and Dunglass Gorge Bypass

Opened on 21 December 1932. The scheme replaced a sharp bend and old stone bridges over Bilsdean Glen and Dunglass Gorge near to Cockburnspath with a single span bridge over Dunglas Gorge. The contract was placed with Messrs. Crowley, Russell and Co Ltd, Glasgow. The roadway was 1.3 miles long and had a width of 30 feet. The bridge was a modern reinforced concrete construction with a single main arch of 162 feet and approach spans of 13 feet each either side. The centre of the main span was 35 feet above the gorge. The whole works cost £45,000 and employed 70 men for the two years of construction.

1932: Stannington deviation

The new road opened in October 1932. This bypassed the bends between the village and Stannington Bridge.

1938: Darrington

The 0.7 mile dual carriageway from Spitalgap Lane to just south of the Darrington Crossroads with Estcourt Road was described as a trial section in one newspaper report. It included a short deviation south of Leys Road to remove the double bend on the then crossroads. Carriageways were 22 feet wide flanked by two 6 feet footpaths. Estimated cost was £30,000. The section south of Estcourt Road has since been bypassed. Now the Old Great North Road, a short section of the dual carriageway has been retained as a service road. It was planned to extend the dual carriageway northwards from Spitalgap Lane to Knottingley in 1939 but the war thwarted it and only the roundabout with A645 at Knottingley and a short widened section south of the roundabout was built.

1938: Elkesley Bypass

Built as the A57, later becoming part of the A1. The 800 yard bypass to the north of the village was an 80 foot road containing a dual carriageway and a footpath on the south side. A further 1300 yards eastwards extension of the dual carriageway took it to just before Twyford Bridge where there was a short single carriageway diversion. It removed 5 dangerous bends. Cost of the two schemes was £27,000. Opened during 1938 or before 7 February 1939.

1942: Birtley Bypass

Opened between November 1942 and February 1943. Construction on the 4.75 mile road began in January 1939 and was allowed to continue after the war had started. Cost was £350,000. There was disappointment after opening that traffic was still passing through the town. The southern section was incorporated into the route for the late 1960s A1(M) upgrade.

1957: Alconbury to Conington

First of a series of improvements to the A1 to upgrade from narrow and winding single carriageway to a full dual carriageway. The 6 mile section between B660 Woolpack Crossroads, Conington (between Glatton and Holme) and Alconbury Hill (north of Alconbury village) opened on 4 November 1957. The contractor was A. Monk and Co. Ltd. Work on dualling this section had started in 1938 as part of a Stilton to Alconbury Hill £237,000 scheme but had been suspended on the onset of war in 1939. It was for "two motor-ways, two cycle tracks and a footpath on either side, the motor-ways being divided by a line of shrubs". Earthworks from this earlier scheme were still in existence when the later scheme restarted.

1958: Elkesley to Apleyhead

Further improvement along the previous line of the A57. 3 miles of new dual carriageway and improvements to an existing single carriageway to make into dual carriageway. Reasonable to suggest that the roundabout at Apleyhead (Apleyhead Roundabout) was constructed at this time. Elkesley was bypassed in 1938.

1958: Markham Moor to Elkesley

Short section of new dual carriageway to bypass West Drayton, built as the A57, the old line of which can be seen just to the east of the B6387 on the northern side of the A1, between the current mainline and the River Idle.

1958: Water Newton to Norman Cross

The 5 mile dualling with 24 feet carriageways was completed in November 1958. It was from just south of Water Newton Bypass (then under construction) to Norman Cross where the recently opened Stilton Bypass began. It was the northern part of the 8 mile Water Newton to B660 Woolpack Crossroads contract being carried out by Robert M. Douglas (Contractors) Ltd. A roundabout was provided at Norman Cross.

1958: Stilton Bypass

The 1.25 mile bypass east of the village and a mile of dualling southwards was opened on 21 July 1958 by David Renton (later Lord Renton), M.P. for Huntingdonshire. It was part of a £2.5million scheme to provide 28 miles of dual carriageway from Wansford to Eaton Socon. It was the southern part of the 8 mile Water Newton to B660 Woolpack Crossroads contract being carried out by Robert M. Douglas (Contractors) Ltd. Carriageways were 24 feet wide with 10 feet wide flush verges and a 10 foot central reservation. The first vehicles to use the bypass were the fleet of contractors lorries taking workers northwards to start the next stretch north of Norman Cross (the southern terminus of the A15). In the south it linked to the upgrade previously opened south of the B660 Woolpack Crossroads, Conington (between Glatton and Holme).

1958: Brampton Hut to Buckden

The 2.5 mile dualling opened in early November 1958. It ran from Ellington Brook (just north of Brampton Hut), to Buckden Railway Bridge (just north of the village). Work had started in February and it was completed 3 months ahead of schedule.

1958: Newspring Cottages to Astwick Turn

The 2.75 mile dualling in Bedfordshire opened in 1958. Newspring Cottages were beside Newspring Farm to the northwest of Edworth.

1959: Catterick Bypass

It was opened on 11 December 1959 by Lord Chesham, Joint Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport. Cost was £1million and included 10 bridges - 7 using, for the first time, broad flange universal beams. It involved the largest steel beam ever rolled in Europe that was 36 by 16.5 inches in section and its 160 foot length was cut into 78 foot lengths. Work started in April 1958 and was completed in 20 months. Excavations during construction showed that the Roman town of Cataractonium, near Catterick Bridge, was larger and more important than had previously been supposed.

1959: Wetherby Bypass

The 2.25 mile bypass was opened on 26 October by Ernest Marples, Minister of Transport. Cost was £560,000.

1959: Apleyhead to Ranby

About 1.5 miles of upgrade to the previous A614 route to dual carriageway.

1959: Stamford to Wansford

About 4 miles of dual carriageway between Carpenters Lodge (south of Stamford) and Wansford. Carriageways were 24 feet wide plus hard shoulders. It was the southern part of an 8 mile contract from Tickencote to Wansford Bridge costing £1.45million. The 1929 bridge over the River Nene continued as a single carriageway bottleneck until a second bridge was built in 1975.

1959: Wansford to Water Newton

The 2.5 mile dual carriageway included bypasses for Wansford Station level crossing and Water Newton. The carriageway was built adjacent to the existing road and carriageways were 24 feet wide. The 45 foot skew span bridge over the railway had brick faced mass concrete abutments and wing walls and a precast prestressed concrete deck beams, filled with in-situ concrete. The railway is now operated by Nene Valley Railway.

1960: Allerton to Boroughbridge

More details required.

1960: Wetherby to Allerton

More details required.

1960: Micklefield Bypass

It was described as nearly complete in September 1960 when the adjacent Aberford Bypass tender was granted.

1960: Blyth Bypass

The 2.75 mile bypass and dualling continuation to Tinker Lane was opened in December 1960. It was later connected in the north to the A1(M) Doncaster Bypass motorway which was opened on 31 July 1961, the junction being a roundabout which was later replaced in 2009 with a dumb bell grade separated junction. The part of the Doncaster Bypass in Nottinghamshire and the whole of the Blyth Bypass was constructed to a Yorkshire West Riding specification in a separate contract to the motorway. The contractors were Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd.

1960: Stamford Bypass

Opened on 31 October 1960 by Ernest Marples, Minister for Transport. About 4 miles of dual carriageway bypass between Tickencote and Carpenters Lodge. There were 3 Grade separated junctions with main roads and a roundabout at each end connecting with the former route through the town. It was the northern part of an 8 mile contract from Tickencote to Wansford costing £1.45million. The northern roundabout was upgraded to a grade separated junction in 1971 and the southern roundabout upgraded to a compact grade separated junction in 2009. History detail on Wiki page for Stamford Bypass.

1960: Buckden to Southoe

Tenders for the 2 mile dualling were requested in August 1958. It is shown on the 1960 OS 1 inch map but may have opened earlier in 1959. Carriageways were 24 feet wide.

1960: Wyboston

A 1.25 mile dualled section from the site of future A141 junction, 0.5 mile north of Wyboston, to just north of Tempsford Bridge (south of A428 Black Cat Roundabout) . It is on the 1960 OS 1 inch map. Hansard records the roundabout under construction in June 1960.

1960: South Mimms Bypass

At grade roundabout in place at the current junction of A1(M) and A1 before current grade separation to accommodate the M25 and the 1979 upgrade of the South Mimms Bypass to full motorway standard in 1979. Geometry of A1(M) suggests somewhere north of St Albans Road, which would have been the A6.

1960: Apex Corner

Junction improvement to enlarge the existing roundabout, presumably to accommodate the increase in traffic because of the diverted route of the A1 along the Barnet Bypass which was previously the A555.

1961: Leeming Bypass

The 3.5 mile dual carriageway bypass opened on 18 October 1961, costing £1million. It is possible that a single carriageway opened earlier.

1961: Wentbridge to Ferrybridge

More details required.

1961: Wentbridge Bypass

The 2 mile dual carriageway opened at the end of November 1961. It was constructed by Taylor Woodrow Construction Ltd and work had began in October 1959. Tender cost was £741,807. Carriageways were 24 feet wide with 12 feet verges. The main feature was the Wentbridge Viaduct over the valley of the River Went. This was 470 feet long and 100 feet high. The pre-stressed concrete bridge was supported on two pairs of raking legs which had spans of over 300 feet at ground level but sloped to divide the viaduct deck into a centre span of 190 feet and two side spans of 140 feet each.

1961: Redhouse to Wentbridge

More details required.

1961: Doncaster Bypass

The 12.5 mile motorway, the first part of A1 to be A1(M) was opened on 31 July 1961 by Ernest Marples, Minister of Transport. It completed the 27 mile diversion of the A1 from Markham Moor to Red House, north of Doncaster - bypassing Retford. Bawtry and Doncaster. It passed through a part of South Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire that was completely undermined by coal workings. Subsidence of up to 14 feet was expected over the next 20 years so the road and bridges were made flexible, the bridges having jacking points. The largest of the bridges was over the River Don. This was a seven span dual structure with an overall length of 760 feet. The span over the river was made up of a 100 foot suspended span on two 40 foot cantilevers. The contractors were Cubitts-Fitzpatrick-Shand. The Doncaster Bypass and the adjacent 2.5 mile Blyth Bypass to the south, cost £6million.

1961: Alconbury to Brampton Hut

The two mile dual carriageway opened in September 1961, costing £195,000. It was from south of Alconbury village to Ellington Brook, just north of Brampton Hut. There it joined the previously opened dual carriageway to Buckden.

1961: Biggleswade Bypass

The 3 mile dual carriageway bypass opened on 4 August 1961. It had roundabouts each end, both of which survive to date. The contractor was Sydney Green and Sons (Contractors) Ltd. They completed the road in time to open before the August Bank Holiday but subsequently were instructed to improve the existing carriageway on the northern section, which was not in the original contract. This was completed by September 1962.

1962: Brotherton Bypass

The £468,203 contract was awarded in February 1960 to Harbour and General Works Ltd of Gateshead. Work commenced shortly after.

1962: Blyth to Ranby

Upgrade of former alignment of the A614 from single carriageway to dual carriageway, following generally the same route.

1962: Grantham Bypass

A 6.25 mile dual carriageway bypass, with a roundabout at the northern end meeting the B1174 and a grade separated junction at the southern end near Little Ponton. Two further grade separated junctions where constructed at the junction with the A52 and A607. Opened on 10 October 1962 by the Earl of Lancaster, cost £2million. The northern roundabout was replaced in 2009 by a new dumb bell style grade separated junction.

1962: Buckden Bypass

The 1.5 mile dual carriageway opened on 25 October 1962, costing £400,000. One of the carriageways had been open since September 1962 and the scheme was completed two months early. It was from Buckden Railway Bridge to just south of the B661 junction to the south of the village. The railway had by then closed and the underbridge built for the original railway line was utilised to provide a Grade Separated Junction with the A141 from Brampton. This new section connected with previously opened dual carriageways either side to create a continuous 7 mile section of dual carriageway.

1962: Tempsford Bypass and new River Ouse Bridge

The section from just north of Tempsford Bridge (south of A428 Black Cat Roundabout) to Girtford (Sandy) was in progress in June 1961 per Hansard and was included on the April 1962 revision of the OS Quarter inch map. It may have been completed in late 1961. It included a second bridge over the River Ouse north of Tempsford and the half mile long Tempsford Bypass. The new bridge became the southbound carriageway and the old Tempsford Bridge built in 1820 became the northbound carriageway, retaining the bends either side.

1962: Stevenage Bypass

The 7.5 mile motorway bypass was opened on 26 July 1962 by Ernest Marples, Minister of Transport and cost £2million. This was the original A1(M) Stevenage Bypass, terminated at junctions 6 and 8. Roundabouts where constructed at each end, however it is unclear at this time how these would tie into the current junction arrangements.

1963: Boroughbridge Bypass

The 4 mile dual carriageway was opened on 22 November 1963 by the Chairman of North Riding Council. Work started in Summer 1961 and forecast cost was £1.6million. This Western bypass was first proposed in 1951 when the 1938 Eastern bypass proposals were scrapped.

1963: Aberford Bypass

The £690,707 contract was awarded in September 1960 to Dowsett Engineering Construction Co. Ltd. of Gateshead. Work commenced shortly after. The 2.5 mile road had dual 24 foot carriageways, a 15 foot central reservation, widening to 30 foot at junctions, and two 12 foot grass verges. It included flyover junctions with A642 Wakefield Road and A656 Castleford Road. It linked the nearly completed Micklefield Bypass to the Aberford to Wetherby section which was scheduled for an improvement. The work was expected to be completed by August 1962 so it possibly opened in 1962.

1964: Brotherton to Micklefield

More details required.

1964: Newark Bypass

Opened by Ernest Marples on 27th July 1964. The southern terminus is indicated on some maps of the day as being the current roundabout on the B6326 London Road, reverting to the old single carriageway at the county boundary, about where the current B6326 joins the current A1. The northern extent was North Muskham.

1964: Alconbury Bypass

Opened on 21 December 1964. The 2 mile long dual carriageway cost £1.25million and completed a 33 mile section almost entirely of dual carriageways from north of St Neots to Stamford.

1965: Darlington Bypass

Part of A1(M), opened in May 1965 at a cost of £6.5m

1965: Aberford to Wetherby

More details required.

1966: Carlton to North Muskham

This section included the Cromwell Bypass and dualling south to North Muskham. The construction involved the use of a modified slip form paver. The 33 foot machine and 3 pieces of smaller British designed machinery replaced the usual 250 foot concrete laying train. It increased the laying speed from 2 foot per minute to 3.5 foot per minute, and could increase further. The machine was owned by the contractor Robert MacGregor and Sons Ltd.

1967: Ferrybridge Bypass

This one mile scheme was to dual the existing 1931 bypass and extend it to join the dual carriageway sections either side. It included a new bridge over the River Aire. The contract was awarded in 1964 to Martin Cowley Ltd.

1967: Markham Moor to Carlton

The 8 mile bypass of Tuxford, Weston and Sutton on Trent was opened on 14 July 1967 by Stephen Swingler, Joint Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport. Cost £3million.

1967: Baldock Bypass

This second section of A1(M) in Hertfordshire extended the A1(M) north from the Stevenage Bypass. It opened in two sections. Junctions 8 to 9 Letchworth Gate opened on 15 June 1967. Junctions 9 to 10 Stotfold opened on 23 August 1967. This joined the A1 dual carriageway section northwards.

1968: Long Bennington Bypass

A 2.5 mile dual carriageway with contract cost £840,000. The first use of unreinforced concrete pavement on a major Trunk Road in UK. It included, initially, experimental surfacing on 20 per cent of the route at the request of Ministry of Transport. Joints fixed in various different ways were placed at random spacing and, in addition, a number of warping joints were incorporated. A short section was textured with a rubber-tined texturing tool which gave a considerably deeper texturing depth than the then normal techniques. Work began in January 1967 with the concrete paving starting in April 1968.

1969: Durham Motorway

New, off-line motorway opened in September 1969 between Darlington and Birtley Bypasses.

1970: Alnwick Bypass

Stage 1. The 3 mile single carriageway was opened on 16 October 1970 by the Duke of Northumberland. It had a 24 foot carriageway with 12 foot verges to allow for future dualling. Work started on 4 March 1968. Contractor was A.M. Carmichael Ltd, Edinburgh and cost £1.25 million. 150 men were employed. The opening had been delayed by six months due to soft ground being experienced on part of the route necessitating considerable extra work and the contractor going into liquidation in March 1970. Stage 2 would not open until 1985.

1970: Morpeth Bypass

The 4 mile dual carriageway was opened on 11 November 1970 by Viscount Ridley, Chairman of Northumberland County Council. Cost £2.5 million. It had taken 2 years to build. The opening ceremony involved a timed trial of Viscount Linlay driving a 1931 14 seater 25mph capable Dodge bus on the new bypass against his chauffeur Dick Walker in the 100mph capable limousine through Morpeth. The bus won, taking 12 minutes despite a stop part way to change drivers. The chauffeur took 17 minutes.

1970: Blagdon Bends Bypass

The 2.5 mile dual carriageway between Stannington Bridge and Seaton Burn was opened on 24 March 1970 by Viscount Ridley, Chairman of Northumberland County Council. Cost £700,000. The original road, which was notorious for accidents, was known locally as "Coffin Alley". It also passed Blagdon Hall, home of Viscount Ridley. In the opening ceremony he joked that since he had become Chairman of the Council people had said that all he had done was to build his one private bypass. Having difficulties operating the machine to paint the last white line on the road he quipped " I hope that I don't spray you all with porridge".

1970: Birtley Bypass

A1(M) upgrade to existing 1942 bypass around Birtley.

1970: White Mare Pool to Black Fell

A1(M) new alignment north of Birtley to the Tyne Tunnel.

1971: Seaton Burn and Wide Open Bypass

The 2.7 mile dual carriageway opened on 22 June 1971. Cost £1.6 million. There was a massive security operation at the opening ceremony following a threat to kill Herr Karl-Gunther von Hase, the Federal German Republic Ambassador, who was attending the ceremony as part of a visit to the North East. The experimental surfaces ordered by the Department for Environment were cracking after just 3 years, necessitating £250,000 of repairs.

1971: Scotch Corner Diversion

Roundabout Grade-Seperated.

1971: Allerton flyover junction

A59 re-routed to west.

1971: Tickencote to South Witham

Approximately 8.5 miles of dual carriageway, completing the final stage of the dual carriageway upgrades along the southern part of the A1. The scheme replaced a roundabout at Tickencote built in 1960, with a grade separated junction. Opened to traffic on the 11th August 1971 and built by Turriff of Salisbury in two years for Rutland County Council at a cost of £2.25m, and opened by the Earl of Gainsborough - the Chairman of the council. Single grade road from Empingham to Edith Weston opened on the same day.

1971: Eaton Socon Bypass

Opened 1971 per a later Hansard answer. Contractor was R McGregor and Sons.

1973: Stanborough to Welwyn

Part of A1(M).

1974: Gateshead Western Bypass

Construction of the Gateshead Western Bypass; which in 1990 would form the re-routed A1 around the west of Newcastle

1975: Wansford second bridge

This bridge over the River Nene formed the new southbound carriageway and was east of the 1929 bridge, which became the northbound carriageway.

1978: Warenford Bypass

A single carriageway road. Opened 1978 per CIHT North Eastern Branch media file "The A1 Trunk Road".




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