|Location Map ( geo)|
|From:||Waltham Cross (TL352009)|
|To:||Woodford Wells (TQ404932)|
|Distance:||10 miles (16.1 km)|
|Meets:||A10, B198, B176, A1010, B194, A112, M25, A104, B172, B1393, A1168, B170, A104|
|Old route now:||B194|
|Route outline (key)|
The A121 is an L-shaped route in the Home Counties.
It starts to the west of Waltham Cross at a roundabout where it meets the A10 and B198. Interestingly, all four roads meeting here are dual carriageways. The road heads east into the centre of Waltham Cross where a relief road avoids the centre of town. After crossing the railway line the road narrows. It crosses the various channels of the River Lea before reaching a set of traffic lights on the edge of Waltham Abbey. The road originally continued ahead but now it TOTSOs right onto the bypass.
After going under the M25 the A121 turns easterly once more to run parallel to the motorway. It meets the A112 and then J26 of the M25 before continuing into Epping Forest. At the Wake Arms Roundabout it crosses the former A11 (now A104 to the south and the B1393 to the north) before heading southwards into Loughton.
Now the most built-up it has been for its entire route, the A121 meets the A1168 at a mini-roundabout to the north of Loughton before running through the centre of town along the High Road. After going through Buckhurst Hill it reaches a T-junction back on the A104 (former A11), where it ends.
On allocation in 1922 the A121 ran between the A10 in the centre of Waltham Cross and the A11 in Epping Forest. However, it was soon extended east along what was the B169 through Loughton and back to the A11 at Woodford Wells.
The next upgrade was to the road between Waltham Cross and Waltham Abbey, which included the dualling of this road and construction of the western half of a Waltham Abbey northern bypass. When the current southern bypass was built, this became part of the B194.
To the west, the A121 Cheshunt Link Road which connected it to the A10 was opened in 1996. Although only 800 m long, the road features a number of significant engineering achievements – namely the steel railway bridge which was lifted in over a weekend, 800 m of concrete retaining walls, the toe of which is up to 15 m below original ground level; a large drainage storage tank, and finally diaphragm walls designed to keep the water out of the cutting (the road is built through a layer of sand and gravel).
Westward extension to Potter's Bar
In the (late?) 1970s, with the opening on the Cheshunt Southern Bypass, the A121 was extended along the route of the B156 to meet the A1000 at Potters Bar. This was shown on OS Landranger maps of the period, but it is not confirmed whether the numbering appeared on signage. The road was downgraded again at some point presumably following the opening of the M25, becoming the B156 once again - although, not before the opening of the A1178 section that bypassed it.