|To:||Seven Hills (TM232413)|
|Via:||Ipswich town centre|
|Distance:||8.2 miles (13.2 km)|
|Meets:||A14, A1214, A1022, A1071, A1022, A1189, A14, A12|
|Route outline (key)|
Originally, according to the 1922 roads list, the A45 finished on the A12 in the centre of Ipswich, and the road to Felixstowe was numbered A139. Once the Felixstowe section was numbered A45, the road would run slap bang through the middle of Ipswich along Westgate Street/Tavern Street/Carr Street, whilst the A12 would take the 1930s Valley Road/Colchester Road bypass.
Although this bypass continued on the east side of the town on Heath Road and Bixley Road, it wasn't until some point in the 1970s that the A45 was signed as a multiplex along Valley Road and then in its own right down the eastern section. Prior to this, the Heath Road/ Bixley Road route was designated the A1114 and has now been renumbered A1189.
At this point the A1156 ran from the double roundabout on Norwich Road outside The Inkerman pub to the St Augustines roundabout on Felixstowe Road. Once the southern and western bypasses were completed in 1985, renumbering took place once again.
Whitehouse - Seven Hills
Today, the road starts at junction 53 of the A14 on a trumpet junction. Sweeping past ASDA on Bury Road, we come to a roundabout for the Anglia Retail Park and the turnings for the Whitehouse Industrial and Housing Estates. I seem to recall Bury Road being originally NSL, but I think it has now been dropped to 30 in light of all the retail developments along it now.
We then meet the first set of several traffic lights on the route into town. This is the junction with Norwich Road and Old Norwich Road. Prior to the completion of the bypass, the then-A45 would continue up Old Norwich Road, past the Hovis bakery, the Maypole pub and the Whitton estate, until becoming dual carriageway just before what is now junction 52 of the A14. The road is now blocked off to all but buses and consequently there is no through route to Claydon.
Heading in a more south-easterly direction now on Norwich Road, we go past White House Road on the right which leads to the aforementioned Industrial Estates, and is probably more in need of a signalled junction than Old Norwich Road.
The next set of lights is at the junction of Meredith Road which is the main northern access road into the large Whitton and Castle Hill housing estates, and although being a short road has a parade of shops down both sides. Norwich Road itself is probably wide enough for an S3 at this point, but a bus lane now restricts it to an S2.
Half a mile later is another set of traffic lights, this time with the southern access road, Ashcroft Road. Quite often this can be a bit of a bottleneck although traffic from Ashcroft Road is prohibited from heading north back up Norwich Road. Just beyond this junction are a couple of landmarks. Firstly, on the corner of Cromer Road, we have the large Suffolk Punch pub, and just beyond that, the Norwich Road railway bridge on which we have emblazoned on it the we-only-advertise-on-bridges brake company, Ferodo.
Moving closer into town now, we pass the Dales Road junction, the Emperor pub and carry on through the Broom Hill area. Eventually we come to the double mini-roundabout junction with the A1214 (former A12). For a junction between two major roads, inevitably more often than not, this can cause quite long hold ups, especially if you are coming from the Colchester direction on Chevalier Street, the whole length of which can sometimes be at a standstill in both directions!
Norwich Road continues up a slight incline, passing Anglesea Road (site of the former hospital) and towards one of Ipswich's two residential tower blocks, Cumberland Towers. Beyond this is the Rose and Crown pub and the junction with the B1067 Bramford Road at an acute angle. As a result it is not possible to go from A1156 east to B1067 west or indeed vice versa. This junction has had another set of traffic lights installed over the last few years.
Bramford Road is on a fairly steep hill and is now on a bus route, but prior to the installation of the signals the buses were forced to go via Wellington Street to get onto Norwich Road. This caused delays as sometimes it was very difficult to turn right onto the main road. So the traffic lights were installed which give priority to the buses.
We're now very close to the town, and from here on in, Norwich Road is purely retail, with the most notable shop being Coes menswear on the corner of Orford Street.
We then come to Barrack Corner. Originally, this was a traffic-light-controlled junction for seven roads and was one of the hubs of the Ipswich network. As well as Norwich Road, the A12 was originally routed down the top part of London Road from here, Portman Road led to the football ground and the railway station and St Matthews Street continued into town. Add to that three residential roads - Clarkson Street, Burlington Road and Barrack Lane, and this was obviously a very busy junction indeed.
Once the western (and in fact only) section of the D2 inner ring road, the A1022, was built along Civic Drive, the junction was split in half. A12 traffic was directed along Handford Road and this part of London Road became a quiet residential street, along with Burlington Road and then swings into the northern half of Portman Road. Norwich Road however, still has access to Clarkson Street (but from the westbound direction only) and in the middle of the curve of the corner itself, Barrack Lane is a sharp left turn.
The A1156 continues along St Matthews Street, until it reaches the St Matthews roundabout, and the aforementioned inner ring road to the right. Beyond this, St Matthews Street is D2 itself. Originally it only reached as far as the junction with Westgate Street, Hyde Park Corner. But once Westgate Street was pedestrianised, and then General Accident built a new office block (now used by Norwich Union) in Crown Street, the D2 continued along Crown Street to the High Street junction.
It should be pointed out that D2 along here is a bit of a misnomer, as from the St Matthews roundabout on the eastbound carriageway, the offside lane is specifically for traffic which wishes to turn right at the High Street junction - and as buses and taxis only can head down High Street, it is a de facto bus lane.
Crown Street continues as S4 for a short length before heading past the Crown Pools complex and Tower Ramparts bus station, as well as the Bethesda church with its temple-like façade. From here it's on into St Margarets Street which curves round to the Mulberry Tree junction and the start of the Ipswich one way system which has caught several visitors unaware.
Prior to 1982, there were three separate one way systems in Ipswich - at the docks, Woodbridge Road and Grimwade Street. The construction of the Star Lane extension at this time meant that all three were combined to produce one huge gyratory system.
For our purposes, the A1156 heads out on Woodbridge Road, climbing steadily until we need to turn right down Argyle Street. Woodbridge Road continues on towards the A1214 and ultimately the A12 as the A1071, which has been subsumed in a multiplex since the St Matthews roundabout (although we didn't actually meet it - it was multiplexing along the A1022 then).
Argyle Street drops away suddenly to the south and following a signalled junction with St Helens Street, continues as Grimwade Street, past Star Lane and the Suffolk College, before ending in a T-junction at Fore Street at which point we would need to turn left.
Westbound A1156 traffic has more of a roundabout route, heading along Fore Street towards the docks then swinging around the double bend of Salthouse Street before turning right into Slade Street. From there it's a short trip along Star Lane before heading north again into Waterworks Street and Bond Street. As all traffic needs to head west along St Helens Street at this point, it heads past Majors Corner and back up St Margarets Street.
Although this may seem a somewhat complex route, prior to the Star Lane extension being built, the A1156 was routed via Majors Corner along the narrow Upper Orwell Street and northern section of Fore Street, which plainly could not cope with the levels of traffic.
Once again heading east however, we reach the St Clements roundabout. Left takes you up the steep hill of Back Hamlet towards Foxhall Road and the California area of town, whereas right takes you down Duke Street and to the main dock area of the town on the eastern bank of the Orwell. The main entrance to Suffolk College car park is also here. We continue straight on along Fore Hamlet, past various disused warehouses, until we find ourselvws at the bottom of Bishops Hill.
Once a very narrow road, Bishops Hill was widened in the 1950s and is now one of the busiest sections of road in the town. As we climb, on the left hand side you can see the name of the road picked out in brickwork on one of the walls of the properties. On the right, after some flats, we have Holywells Park. At the top of Bishops Hill, we have the junction for Nacton Road, which dives off to the right, taking with it the traffic for Gainsborough, Ransomes Europark and eventually junction 57 of the A14.
We're now in Felixstowe Road, a typical suburban "A" road, and before too long we reach a parade of shops, and a junction with the B1075 Derby Road (which we last met back in the gyratory in the town centre). A small railway station on the Ipswich-Felixstowe line is a short distance up Derby Road, and again like the junction at Norwich Road railway bridge, there is a large pub on the corner, the Royal Oak, whereas on the right hand side, a short distance down Hatfield Road is another landmark, the church with its distinctive large wooden cross affixed outside.
Recent retail development in this area results in another set of lights at the Murray Road junction, and from thereon, Felixstowe Road acts as the northern boundary of the Racecourse estate.
Following a set of traffic lights at the junction with Kings Way and Cobham Road, Felixstowe Road widens to S4 for a short distance, heading over the rail lines and then down towards the St Augustines roundabout. This is the junction with the A1189 Bixley Road and Bucklesham Road, and is also notable for the St Augustines Church towering over the roundabout. On top of the church's tower is an illuminated cross, which can if the conditions are right, be seen some five miles away, halfway to Felixstowe.
The A1156 continues along Felixstowe Road now, past the few remaining houses and out towards Warren Heath. A new housing estate has sprung up here over the last few years. Next to Sainsbury's, the A1189 re-emerges, heading off to the right down Ransomes Way and towards Nacton Road.
The main access road to Warren Heath, Murrills Road, rejoins us further down at another roundabout where there is also the main entrance to the Suffolk Showground. At this point, the road is a decent S2 and continues past the Shepherd and Dog pub, skirting the northern side of Nacton, before going over the A14. Just before we reach the Seven Hills interchange (A14 J58), the old A45 heads off to the right through Levington before emerging on the A14 some two miles further on. It is no good using this as a rat run if you are headed for Felixstowe as I believe you are unable to turn onto the Felixstowe-bound carriageway of the A14 at the other end.
Finally, we reach the end, the Seven Hills interchange GSJ with the A14. Right towards Felixstowe, straight on takes you onto the A12 eastern bypass, whereas left takes you back towards Bury St Edmunds and Norwich over the Orwell Bridge.