|From:||High Barnet (TQ244968)|
|To:||Luton Airport (TL118212)|
|Distance:||20.5 miles (33 km)|
|Meets:||A1000, A1, A1(M), M25, B556, B6424, A5183, B691, A1057, A4147, B651, B487, B652, M1, B653, A505|
|Route outline (key)|
The A1081 covers the southernmost 20 miles of the original A6.
Route: High Barnet - St Albans
The road starts on the northern edge of London at traffic lights on High Barnet High Street, originally the A1 and now the A1000. It heads northwest, already called St Albans Road, and quickly reaches open country (although we're in the London commuter belt and so we're actually passing golf courses rather than open fields, at least initially).
We soon do become genuinely rural before coming alongside the M25 and following it to its junction 23, a large stacked roundabout which is also junction 1 of the A1(M) and the access to South Mimms services. The A1081 disappears here, multiplexing with the M25 to J22, the next junction west. We now head northwest along a D2 section, bypassing London Colney, to another roundabout on the A414 St Albans southern bypass.
On the far side of the roundabout the road narrows once more and quickly enters the suburbs of St Albans. We enter the city along London Road and pass under the Midland Main Line, which crosses at a sharp angle. After a mini-roundabout where we meet the suburban B6424 we reach another junction where more than one road zone meets (the first being the one at the start of the A1081), the signalised Peahen Crossroads. Ahead and to the left are the A5183 (former A5), whilst we, on the former A6, TOTSO right and head north along Chequer Street, one of the city's main shopping streets that still allows traffic to use it. We also join what used to be a multiplex with the A6 and A414.
Route: St Albans - Luton Airport
The road widens (presumably indicating a former market) and we reach a roundabout where the former A414 (now A1057) moves off to the right. We pass through the northern suburbs with the usual out-of-town playing fields giving way to farmland. This doesn't last long, however, as it's only a couple of miles to the next town, Harpenden, and the hamlet of Childwick Green is between the two.
Harpenden takes a while to get going as we pass a golf course and cricket field on the right and public open space on the left. By the time we reach a roundabout with an unclassified road there's a small amount of grass on both sides, which comes to an end at a mini-roundabout where the B652 heads off to the right and the station. We continue up the wide High Street and pass under a disused railway bridge before leaving town, to enter the longest rural section on the entire road. We skirt the grounds of Luton Hoo to the right and presently reach Kidney Wood. This was once a roundabout at the end of a spur from the M1 motorway, but has now been converted to a dumbbell grade-separated junction. It is located on the southern edge of Luton. The old A6 continued ahead along what is now an unclassified road; we turn on to the southern bypass.
The quality of the A1081 improves considerably here, as we're on a grade-separated D2. A dumbbell GSJ serves a business park (Capability Green), after which we reach a set of traffic lights which provides access to a spur leading to the B653, which we then go over before crossing the Midland Main Line again. Immediately afterwards the A1081 TOTSOs, with the road ahead a spur leading to the A505 roundabout. The fourth road off that roundabout also seems to be numbered A1081 and runs parallel to the mainline before they meet at another roundabout on the edge of Luton Airport. Maps - but not signs - claim that the A1081 continues, now S2 once again, through the tunnel under the airport runway to end at a loop by the terminal.
This version of the A1081 came into being in the 1950s when the A1 was rerouted onto the former A555 Barnet bypass. The old A6 into Barnet was renumbered A1081 with the A6 cut back to start on the new A1 at South Mimms. There is still a roundabout at this junction, just to the north of South Mimms services. The old road south of here ran through what is now the services and has been severed by the M25.
North of this junction the A6 ran through South Mimms village and headed along what is now the B556 to London Colney. Later, London Colney and South Mimms were both bypassed, with the latter later being upgraded to motorway status as the M25. Around this time, the A1081 was extended along the ex-A6 to Luton - as such it has never passed through South Mimms or London Colney.
When originally extended, the A1081 ended on the A505 to the south of St Albans. With the growth of the airport it was extended there.