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Location Map ( geo)
Cameraicon.png View gallery (8)
From:  Birtley (NZ279564)
To:  Sunderland (NZ404564)
Via:  Washington
Distance:  9.6 miles (15.4 km)
Meets:  A1, B1288, A182, A195, A19, A1290, B1405, A183, A690, B1522, B1294, A1018
Former Number(s):  B1290
Old route now:  A195, A182, B1539, B1405
Primary Destinations
Highway Authorities

Gateshead • Sunderland

Traditional Counties


Route outline (key)
A1231 Vigo - Washington
A1231 Washington – Sunderland

The A1231 runs from Washington to Sunderland in northern County Durham, and forms one of the major approach roads into the city.


The A1231 starts at Birtley Interchange on the A1. Eastbound traffic leaving the A1 has to merge with B1288 traffic out of Birtley before turning right at a roundabout, while westbound traffic has to go through a 270 degree loop to reach the A1 northbound. The convoluted layout here is a result of the A1231 being an add-on to the junction built much later - as such it partly uses already-existing local roads for access, and direct access to or from the A1(M) south of the junction is impossible, requiring use of the A195 or A194(M).

Dual carriageway west of the A19 junction

From here the A1231 is a high quality dual carriageway heading east towards Sunderland. After several grade-separated junctions comes a roundabout interchange with the A182, however the latter road benefits from grade-separation here while A1231 traffic has to stop for the roundabout. After this the road continues through Washington new town with several more grade-separated junctions serving its residential and commercial areas, passing Sunderland's Nissan Factory and a very large ASDA distribution warehouse. The A19 is then reached at Hylton Grange on the edge of Sunderland, A1231 traffic once again having to stop for the roundabout. Substantial widening works were completed in 2015 on the eastbound approach in order to alleviate the queues which often formed here at peak times.

Beyond the A19 the A1231 remains dual carriageway but now has to negotiate numerous roundabouts, enabling access to the various residential areas of north Sunderland and the retail parks on the north bank of the Wear. This section of road is known as Wessington Way and is lined with car dealerships and small industrial areas. The A1231 then TOTSOs at a junction with the A1290, to cross the Northern Spire bridge.

The Northern Spire bridge, shown under construction in 2017.

At the southern end of the bridge the road continues as an urban dual carriageway, hemmed in by steep embankments, and passes under the southern approach road to the Queen Alexandra Bridge. It carries on through several traffic light controlled junctions, past retail outlets up to the edge of the city centre where it passes the back of the Empire Theatre. There's a brief multiplex with the A183, with the A1231 number dominant, then the A690 is met at the Priestman Roundabout.

The A1231 is not signed beyond this point but it continues some distance further, skirting the southern edge of the city centre - its standard diminishing to S4 and subsequently S2. After passing the Park Lane interchange a triangular gyratory near the Civic Centre provides access to the B1522 (original A19). After skirting Mowbray Park the road passes through two traffic light controlled crossroads before ending at a roundabout on the A1018.


The A1231 number first came into being in the early 1970s as a short road in the Washington area. Starting at Vigo Interchange the road headed east along what is now the A195 then north along what is now the A182 to end on the A194(M). It was planned to link this road up with the B1290 in Sunderland, but the growth of the New Town of Washington altered the plans, leading to the construction of the modern A1231 including its awkward western terminus at Birtley. The A1231 replaced the B1290 as the main route into Sunderland from Washington in the late 1970s, as an offline upgrade along the north bank of the River Wear and then taking over the B1290's route over the Queen Alexandra Bridge and into the city centre.

The conversion of Wessington Way in Sunderland to dual carriageway was opened on 7 September 1987 by Peter Bottomley, Minister for Roads and Traffic. Cost was £4.2 million.

The A1231 was re-routed over the Northern Spire bridge when it opened in 2018, with a temporary southern tie-in taking it up Woodbine Terrace to a junction with the B1405 near Pallion Metro station. It then took over a short stretch of that road, resuming its former route at the southern end of the Queen Alexandra Bridge. The bypassed section of dual carriageway on the north bank of the river was renumbered as an extension of the A1290, while the bridge itself was given a new number, the B1539. This numbering lasted until November 2021, when a new section opened linking the southern end of the Northern Spire with the city centre. Access to Woodbine Terrace was blocked off, with a new road carrying the A1231 to a junction with Pallion New Road from where it resumed its former route along Trimdon Street as a newly widened dual carriageway.

An amended OpenStreetMap trace for this route awaits uploading to the SABRE Wiki.

Related Pictures
View gallery (8)
Queen Alexandra Bridge - Geograph - 87551.jpgA1231 approaching Queen Alexandra Bridge... (C) peter robinson - Geograph - 3181614.jpgNew Road Crossing under construction - Geograph - 5305013.jpgHylton Grange Interchange Sunderland - Geograph - 1673548.jpgThe junction with the A1 and Portobello, Birtley - Geograph - 6430.jpg
Other nearby roads
A1200 • A1201 • A1202 • A1203 • A1204 • A1205 • A1206 • A1207 • A1208 • A1209 • A1210 • A1211 • A1212 • A1213 • A1214 • A1215 • A1216 • A1217 • A1218 • A1219
A1220 • A1221 • A1222 • A1223 • A1224 • A1225 • A1226 • A1227 • A1228 • A1229 • A1230 • A1231 • A1232 • A1233 • A1234 • A1235 • A1236 • A1237 • A1238 • A1239
A1240 • A1241 • A1242 • A1243(S) • A1243(N) • A1244 • A1245 • A1246 • A1247 • A1248 • A1249 • A1250 • A1251 • A1252 • A1253 • A1254 • A1255 • A1256 • A1257 • A1258 • A1259
A1260 • A1261 • A1262 • A1263 • A1264 • A1265 • A1266 • A1267 • A1268 • A1269 • A1270 • A1271 • A1272 • A1273 • A1274 • A1275 • A1276 • A1277 • A1278 • A1279
A1280 • A1281 • A1282 • A1283 • A1284 • A1285 • A1286 • A1287 • A1288 • A1289 • A1290 • A1291 • A1292 • A1293 • A1294 • A1295 • A1296 • A1297 • A1298 • A1299
Defunct Itineraries & Motorways: A1204 • A1231(M)

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