|From:||Great Yarmouth (TG523051)|
|Distance:||74.9 miles (120.5 km)|
|Meets:||B1370, A47, B1074, B1136, A146, B1332, A144, B1062, B1116, A140, B1077, B1113, B1111, A1088, B1106, A134, A14, A1101, A1302, B1066, B1063, B1061, A1307, B1057, A1017|
|Former Number(s):||B1060, A604|
|Old route now:||A1066, unclassified|
|Route outline (key)|
The A143 is a lengthy A-road in East Anglia. It is primary except for its western section, which did not become part of the road until the 1950s.
Great Yarmouth - Scole
The A143 starts in Gorleston on Sea to the south of Great Yarmouth. The actual starting-point is not in an obvious place: it lies not on the A47 (former A12) bypass but on a roundabout slightly further east (on a former route of the A12) where five roads meet but only two are classified: the B1370 heading southeast and the A143 southwestward.
The A143 heads west out of town and soon meets the A47. A hefty bridge takes the bypass over the A143 and two sets of traffic lights serve the sliproads. Actually, there are only north-facing sliproads here which could explain why this is not the starting point of the A143 (although taking the B1370 to reach the southbound A47 does seem to be the long way round).
The A143 continues southwestwards and finally reaches open country. It passes through the village of Fritton and enters the Norfolk Broads National Park just before crossing the River Waveney into Norfolk. A second bridge crosses the cut connecting the Waveney to the Yare and also the Norwich to Lowestoft railway line. The national park is then left and the road follows an almost southerly course to reach Gillingham (pronounced in the same way as the place of that name in Dorset) and a roundabout on the A146. From here the A143 has been extensively upgraded in recent years and the old route for some distance has now been bypassed (although the road remains S2). The road therefore runs northwestwards until the next roundabout on a multiplex with the A146. The A143 number is dominant even though it is the alignment of the other road that is followed.
Leaving the A146 behind, the A143 runs westwards to bypass Kirkby Cane and Broome. It meets the B1332 at a roundabout before crossing the Waveney twice in quick succession, briefly reentering the Broads (and Suffolk) as it does so. The road here in Suffolk skirts the northern edge of Bungay and a roundabout on the A144 provides access to the town.
Back in Norfolk again, the road continues along the left bank of the river and remains very close for a few miles until the B1062 junction. Road and river move further away as the road bypasses Wortwell and Harleston - but they are still pretty close and the river is finally crossed a few miles further upstream on the Scole bypass. The A140 is crossed at a roundabout on the far side.
Scole - Bury St Edmunds
Originally the A143 went straight through Scole and touched the southern edge of Diss but now it runs to the south of both. Old and new roads meet at Wortham, which is unusual in not having been bypassed. The next village, Botesdale, has been - but the lengthy upgraded section of A143 now ends and the road continues on its original alignment. It passes to the north of the former RAF Shepherds Grove, which is now an industrial estate; its former runways can just be picked out from the air. After passing Stanton the road reaches the Ickworth bypass, where the A1088 joins between two consecutive roundabouts.
At the far end of the bypass the road continues southwestwards. It meets the B1106 Bury St Edmunds would-be-northern bypass before passing Great Barton. An industrial plant becomes just visible through the trees to the right of the road, showing that we are nearing Bury. A roundabout is reached; the original route of the A143 bore left into the town centre but we continue round to the right to pass the factory (with its landmark sugar silo) and reach a roundabout on the A134.
In passing through Bury St Edmunds the A143 seems to have drawn the short straw. It now multiplexes along the A134 to reach the A14 at J43. Ahead is a non-primary spur of the A134 as far as the next roundabout where four roads meet, all with different numbers. To the left is an unclassified road to the town centre, to the right is the A1101, and ahead is the A1302 (actually a spur), along which the A143 continues, still in hiding.
Bury St Edmunds - Haverhill
The next roundabout sees the A1302 spur meet the road's mainline, which continues ahead along a dual-carriageway relief road. A double mini-roundabout is reached and the A143 regains its number by turning right. Incidentally, this is where the route of the A143 would have come out except for the fact that the road has been declassified within the town's relief road.
The A143 runs out of Bury, taking a surprising distance to reach open country. The next village, Horringer, is soon reached. Here the road runs across an attractive expanse of parkland on the edge of the Ickworth Estate, now owned by the National Trust. The road continues along its gently winding route across reasonably flat land (although this is hilly compared with the Broads). It goes through Chedburgh, which has another demolished RAF station, and Stradishall before running between the two Highpoint prisons. It then zigzags to cross the B1061 before running into Haverhill.
After going under a footbridge on the site of an old railway overbridge, a roundabout is reached. Ahead is the A1307 and the A143 turns left. It passes Tesco and runs along a town-centre relief road. The pre-bypass route is met just before a mini-roundabout where the B1057 turns off to the south immediately before the old railway line is crossed again; this time the old viaduct is still in existence.
The A143 continues on for a few more roundabouts' worth of road before ending at another one on the A1017 Haverhill bypass, just on the far side of the county boundary in Essex.
Originally the A143 ran from the A12 in Gorleston to the A134 Angel Hill in the centre of Bury St Edmunds. By the mid-1950s it had been extended along what was the B1060 to reach the centre of Haverhill and the A604. All the changes since then have been due to upgrades and bypasses, only one of which merits note. After the construction of the Haverhill bypass as part of an upgrade to the A604 Cambridge-Colchester road in the 1990s it was decided to downgrade the road instead and so the A604 number disappeared off the map. As part of this, the ex-A604 from the centre of Haverhill as far as the eastern end of the bypass is now part of the A143. In Haverhill itself, and prior to the opening of the Tesco store in 2009, the A143 actually ran along The Pightle, but it's alignment was changed to accommodate the new access to the store for both deliveries and customers, thus The Pightle being no more than a named, unclassified road today.