|Length:||8.9 miles (14.3 km)|
|Meets:||A113, B173, A12, A1400, B192, A118, A124, A13, A1153|
|Route outline (key)|
The A123 is an urban A-road in south Essex.
Section 1: Chigwell - Gants Hill
The A123 starts in the north in leafy, suburban Chigwell, just outside Greater London, at the junction with the A113 Chigwell High Road, near the unstaffed Central Line underground station. It heads south as Fencepiece Road, crossing the B173 at the brow of a hill near Grange Hill (not the location of the fictitious school drama of the same name!). By now, we've crossed the Greater London boundary, heading south through Hainault. Fencepiece Road merges with Tomswood Hill, heading northwest towards Woodford Bridge just north of the Fullwell Cross roundabout at Barkingside. Here, there are exits to three unclassified roads: Fullwell Avenue heading to the west towards Clayhall, Forest Road heading east towards the Fairlop Waters park/lake, and Craven Gardens, leading nowhere really apart from Barkingside Central Line station. The A123 continues south of the roundabout as Barkingside High Street, past the distinctly circular library and the swimming pool next door. The High Street has only a few leading High Street names (eg. Somerfield, Boots, Iceland), and is rather short, soon pssing the Tesco just outside the town centre as Cranbrook Road. This is suburban residential Barkingside, not too posh, but rather nice. Cranbrook Road winds up at the infamous Gants Hill roundabout a mile to the south, which is where it meets the A12 Eastern Avenue and the A1400 Woodford Avenue. Clarence Avenue, a residential road, also joins the party. Gants Hill is the location for yet another tube station, though this is underground here.
Section 2:Gants Hill - Barking
South of Gants Hill, we continue as the A123 Cranbrook Road towards Ilford, the bright centre to the London Borough of Redbridge. By coincidence, this stretch is host to the 123 bus running between Ilford and Wood Green via the A1400 and A503. We pass Ilford's large green space, Valentine's Park, just to the east, including the cricket pitch that sometimes plays host to Essex County Cricket Club matches. At the southern end of the park, there's a junction between two unclassified roads, The Drive (leading northwest to Redbridge) and Northbrook Road (heads southwest towards the A118/A406 junction just west of Ilford), where the A123 turns sharply south-eastwards towards Ilford Town Centre. It climbs a short hill, has a very brief dual section (well, glorified islands really), and passing shops of all sizes, goes past the Exchange Shopping Centre to the east and Ilford main-line station to the west. After going over the railway, it dips back down towards the lights with the Ilford High Road (the former A118), now a one-way system. The A123/A118 junction is another one-way system. Northbound traffic has to go round Chapel Road (past a Sainsbury's and then Ilford Hill to get to Cranbrook Road.
The new A118 Winston Way (D2, built 1985) actually borrows part of Ilford Lane (which was the A123 until then; there is now a multiplex with the other number dominant) on its way from Romford Road to the west of Ilford, before heading east at the roundabout just past the Pioneer Market on the left, whilst the A123 resumes southward along the rest of Ilford Lane towards Barking, passing a many more small shops, before reaching a much more residential area near the border with Barking. Here it becomes Fanshawe Avenue, and reaches a roundabout with the A124. In the old days, the A123 and A124 multiplexed into Barking Town centre, going over the District/London-Tilbury-Southend lines outside Barking station. But in the last few years an S2 Relief Road (numbered A124) was built to the north, and at another roundabout to the west, the A124 heads west towards the A406 and East Ham, while the A123 heads south then east as the D2 St Paul's Road (including a roundabout with priority for through traffic westbound), before reaching its old alignment from Barking town centre at yet another roundabout. This is Ripple Road, which takes up the final stretch of the A123, heading south, then east, over the Tilbury line (and new Channel Tunnel Rail Link alignment) before reaching its terminus, the Lodge Avenue junction (Lodge Avenue being the A1153 heading northeast to Becontree, with the A13 passing above as an S4 flyover, and continuing east as Ripple Road, a legacy of the time when the A123 stretch of this road, as well as the A124 west of Barking, was the original route of the A13. At that time the A123 ended on the A124 in Barking.