|Location Map ( geo)
|Hessle (W) (TA009260)
|Norman Cross (TL158907)
|99.3 miles (159.8 km)
|A63, A164, A1105, A1077, B1206, B1218, M180, A180, A18, B1206, B1205, A631, A1500, A46, B1226, A158, B1308, B1182, B1308, B1003, B199, A57, B1188, B1262, A1434, B1131, A607, B1178, B1202, B1191, B1429, A17, B1518, A153, B1517, A52, B1177, B1193, A151, A1175, B1524, B1166, B1162, B1443, A47, A1139, A1179, A605, A1129, A1260, B1091, A1(M), B1043
|Old route now:
|Route outline (key)
The A15 is the main north-south road in Lincolnshire, running the entire length of the county. It is also the road that crosses the Humber Bridge.
Section 1: Hessle – Lincoln
The A15 starts on the outskirts of Hull near Hessle, and sets off in the wrong direction, north-eastwards, as a dual carriageway, and connects from roads west, north and east, though to come from Hull on the A63 requires quite a deviation under the high Humber Bridge and over half a mile beyond to come off the A63, to then cross over the A63, and continue to rise up over half a mile backwards back to the bridge roundabout to then go over the A63 again to the bridge. When opened in 1981 this was the longest single span suspension bridge in the world and remained so for 16 years.
The Humber Bridge is its own entity. After a settlement with the government in 1997 the users continue to pay massive tolls and the bridge doesn't go bust quite as quickly. The tolls maintain higher prices in the shops and some of the cheapest houses in Britain on the southern side of the Humber.
The weather is usually worse on the bridge than anywhere else. However, the wind is remarkably steady until getting to the road going from the bridge on the south bank downwards, where it can throw vehicles around in an unsteady fashion. If anyone breaks down on the Humber Bridge (as they do), cameras spot the vehicle and the Humber Bridge Board rescues it free of charge and leaves it by the roadside at a point where other rescue services can collect it.
The Humber Bridge Board knows two speed limits, 50 mph and an advisory 30 mph in difficult conditions. Few take any notice of the lower limit, except motorcycles leaning into the wind. It is never 40 mph. Sometimes the wind is up and down the bridge and doesn't matter, sometimes it is across the bridge and then it does. Going under the towers the wind goes the other way and vehicles veer sideways. Substantial road works mean the Board covers the main signs and clip over repeater signs with ones saying 30 mph, which is then compulsory. The bridge stays open almost always, but sometimes high sided vehicles either have to go around the Humber and cross at the Ouse or wait (in Barton, presumably).
Just off the high roundabout in a southerly direction, on the road to Scunthorpe, there are two long laybys. They are always mysteriously full of cars and people pass and wonder what on earth are they all doing there. The answer is that in the morning a lot of cars arrive. People then get out of some and leave them, and a few of them set off to cross the bridge. It is simply because the tolls are so high that car sharing takes place into Hull. At one time it cost nearly £5 for a return trip but the current price is £3 return for a car.
People can also get the coach to London on this roundabout near Barton. The coach to stop has to be booked and then the person stands on the roundabout. The coach instead of going under the roundabout comes up it and collects the person waiting. However, the scheduled hourly service to Humberside Airport, Grimsby and Sheffield (the coach connects at the airport - it used to do this at a cafe but the owner wanted more money) does not come up to the roundabout to collect people from Barton. They have to use the train, which itself has a bus connection from Hull, the one that replaced the ferry into New Holland.
The A15 has come down from the Humber Bridge and rises up and yet underneath the roundabout as it goes into the chalk hills of the Lincolnshire Wolds. These wolds have swept well under the river and alluvial soil and sweep up again. There is a chalk cutting south of this roundabout and still rising. In fact the road rises quite further as it rides on top of the wolds.
It is a dual carriageway from the Humber Bridge all the way to the M180. It is grade separated throughout, with a narrow strip and what is effectively a soft hard shoulder.
The old route of the A15 (now the B1206) crosses the present route at the next junction after the one to Barton. This is also a junction for heavy lorries to double back to New Holland, avoiding Barton. There is a road to the centre of Barton too. It would have been a junction for the industrial area on the eastern side of Barton too (the road to New Holland so far) but it failed a public enquiry. The road appeared for a while on the A-Z road atlas and they then had to remove it.
The next junction south goes nowhere. It is to two culs-de-sac to some business spaces and underneath the dual carriageway is a narrow bridge connecting the two culs-de-sac with traffic lights. They obviously saved money there.
Then comes the long hill down towards junction 5 of the M180, which continues east of this point as the A180 - the noisiest road in Britain, a concrete monster with dangerous (still) laybys (which were made safer a few years ago). The A15 stops here; it is the A18 which continues opposite, forming in one direction the back door way into Grimsby (since the A180 was built) and to the west is Brigg. To continue on the A15 the driver needs to go on the Motorway (or through Brigg, if learning).
At one time all drivers on the A15 to Lincoln had to go through Brigg. It took them through villages to the Roman Road, Ermine Street. In fact Ermine Street did continue up to the Humber, but there was a gap with no more than a track up it (and I think it was gated). It was blocked off when junction 4 of the M180 was first built (which connected only to the A18) - southbound traffic having to use the A18 through Brigg to reach the A15, but some years after the opening of the M180 that gap was eventually filled with more of the straight road to rejoin the original route near Redbourne. So it is possible to come from the Humber, except that to discourage this the road in the adjacent village north of the M180, Broughton, has speed restrictions and physical road narrowings.
The A15 road south from the M180 follows the Roman Ermine Street to Lincoln. It is not counted by the AA as one of the most dangerous roads in Britain, but it ought to be. The new part has good sight lines, but it is still single carriageway and is seen as a necessary moment to overtake anything that can slow the journey in front. Speeds tend to be well above the national limit as it is straight and most have come off the motorway.
However, after the A15 passes where the old A15 appeared, now a junction with the B1206, the A15 weaves its wicked magic. A lorry will slow everyone down. The road is considerably narrower than it should be. Then, more and more as the road goes south, comes the hills so there are plenty of hidden dips and blind summits. There is another aspect to this A15 that people do not realise. It isn't actually straight. It does not have bends as such, except fifth gear ones at dips, but also there is a kind of sway to parts of the road. This means that a car can come off if it isn't steered at all.
There are also quite a few side junctions and plenty of people dodging across, including the odd tractor. Generally though the tailbacks on the road mean that there are big gaps for people to get across. Roads go off to Kirton-in-Lindsey and then one goes south of it on a fast route to Gainsborough. Incidentally there is an older parallel road — the much more pleasant B1398 — that comes from near Scunthorpe and goes through Kirton-in-Lindsey on the top of the chalk. The Romans had to be different.
The road goes through Spittal in the Street, where there is one of those cameras to check nothing is going wrong but which can be used for anything. One or two are speed cameras on the A15. The name of the hamlet does not come from locals' unhygienic habits but the site of an ancient hospital.
Caenby Corner roundabout, at the A631 (which is counted in part by the AA as one of the most dangerous roads in Britain), gets busy not just from traffic to the coast from the Midlands but a nearby antiques, etc., market on an old RAF base.
The A15 continues south in its dangerous narrow way until it sweeps past RAF Scampton (of Dambusters fame) - the only deviation from the Roman road between the motorway and Lincoln (although the old line of the road continued straight). After this a 50 mph limit is imposed, and the cathedral at Lincoln is spotted small and starts to get bigger. There are speed cameras and police often do some speed checks. The road continues going up and down, and passes the home of the Lincolnshire Agricultural Society, the Lincolnshire Showground.
Finally the road comes to the outskirts of Lincoln and the partly single road, partly dual carriageway bypass. This bypass was one done on the cheap, with lots of roundabouts. To get to the other A15 drivers have to touch the urban area of Lincoln as the bypass takes users from Skegness, Grimsby and the Humber Bridge to the A46, another Roman Road, to the A1.
The A15 to Lincoln is a disaster. It is narrow, undulating, dangerous, and full of tailbacks of traffic that does not mix. It encourages idiots and more sensible people to drive like idiots. It is the perfect example of the inability of Lincolnshire County Council (before and after the very different Humberside) and the government to invest in local and national roads. For some reason Lincolnshire and Norfolk have had an investment bypass in decent roads.
The A15 runs around the Eastern side of the city using parts of the older Northern Bypass (which was the A46 / A158 until December 2020), then uses the Eastern bypass to Sleaford Road which is the A15's original alignment. The Eastern bypass is a single carriageway with climbing lane up the hills either side of the River.
Section 2: Lincoln – Norman Cross
South of Lincoln there are actually five competing routes to the A1 for the south. Official signage would have you take the A46 to Newark to reach the A1. This is the longest, and the most tedious. It has a similar reputation for nasty accidents with the A15 north of Lincoln. However, it does get you to the A1 quickest, and without passing through any major towns as the A1 bypasses Newark to the east. The A607 is easily the prettiest, along the cliff edge (like the B1398 north of the city), but as the A1 bypasses Grantham to the west you have to go through the town to reach it. There is also the B1188 to Sleaford, where it joins the A15. The Romans had the right idea, and the best route to London is still Ermine Street, despite its B-classification. However, the first part is now lost under another WWII airfield, (Waddington, now the home of AWACS), to reappear near Cranwell as the B6403, so users of this route must set out along the A607 or A15 and join it at Byards Leap.
But when the numbers were being given out, someone thought the most important route south of Lincoln towards London was the one through Sleaford, so this is the one we take. At the top of the hill the A607 bears off right along the edge of the escarpment. (Within the last four miles the A15 has now met an A4x, A5x and A6xx road) The A15 crosses the Lincoln Heath on a more easterly route, passing the end of Waddington's runway, complete with traffic lights, and bypasses Sleaford (junction with A17), to cross the A52.
It next skirts the fens to Bourne (A151), Market Deeping (A1175) and Peterborough. In the northern suburbs of Peterborough it throws off a spur to meet the A47 near the suburb of Newark (not to be confused with Newark on Trent), but the main A15 continues, as a non-primary route, into the centre of Peterborough.
The A15 has undergone many changes in Peterborough in recent years, avoiding the city centre to meet the A1 at various different points, but has now resumed more or less its original course through the city centre. This is obviously no longer the route for through traffic as this is the only non-primary section of the A15 - but the road still continues south as it always has done through Fletton and Yaxley to end on the A1(M) at Norman Cross. Signage at this junction does not even mention Peterborough.
Eastern Lincoln Bypass
For many years there have been proposals for the A15 to bypass Lincoln, which has been subject to multiple enquiries and modifications in recent years:
The original route of the A15, before the Humber Bridge was constructed, started at the eastern end of the A63 in the centre of Hull and ran south along Queen Street as the approach to the Corporation Pier. It then took the ferry to New Holland, bizarrely running along the station platform to leave the pier, before continuing over the route of the present B1206 via Brigg to join the present A15 near Redbourne. The Humber Bridge was opened in 1981 and the A15 rerouted this way, which closed the ferry.
At the other end, the A15 was formerly routed down Lincoln Road through Werrington village, and Millfield into Peterborough city centre, at a junction in the middle of Westgate. It used to meet the A47 further down Westgate at a crossroads. From about 1968, however, the A15 route was split, with part continuing as before, but a new fork breaking off just before Millfield down the B1380 (Walpole Street/Westwood Street) instead. Although it also ended at a junction with Westgate (at the west end, this time), it was opposite the new Inner Relief Road, now taking shape (constructed along most of Albert Place).
In 1971-72, demolition work began in Walpole Street to widen the road to dual-carriageway. When the work was complete, the whole road was renamed (and still is) Bourges Boulevard; that included a former piece of Walpole Street, now detached from the main road. By the 1980s, once the Paston Parkway was completed, the 'outer' fork was routed along its current route instead, leaving Lincoln Road unclassified. This means only one of the two forks now reaches the city centre.
In 1989, the 2-mile Glinton bypass was built - meaning that long-distance traffic would need to TOTSO at a new roundabout, just south of Glinton village. The existing road through Glinton and Northborough became an unclassified (albeit popular), local road. Popular, as a fast way into Peterborough from the Deepings, and as a place where late running bus drivers would pick up speed!! Co-incidentally, a new stretch of road was built to link in with the existing Lincoln Road from Deeping. The roads converged just west of Northborough - the B1162 was extended further along Maxey Road to provide the link.
In 1997, a new parkway extension north of Werrington was built, to remove the dangerous blind junction at Hurn Road, where a minor road met the main road at a railway bridge. One of the last acts of Cambridgeshire County Council before it handed over to Peterborough City Council, it lead to considerable disagreements about how much each side should contribute towards costs.
In 1998, the Deepings bypass was completed; the road now took a new, NW course, crossing the River Welland at a new bridge, arriving at a new roundabout with the A16 (now A1175). The road continued sharply NE as dual-carriageway, before rejoining its traditional route towards Bourne. All of these bypasses have taken very sharp curves, to avoid existing landholdings - this can cause severe congestion at peak times.
On the 19th December 2020 the Lincoln Eastern Bypass was opened to traffic. This took traffic away from center of the city onto the single carriageway bypass. The bypass has climbing lanes either side of the river and has 4 new roundabouts and 1 limited access at-grade junction. The whole route has a NMU path open to foot, bicycle &horses, which features 3 grade separated crossing across the A15 (2 bridges, 1 subway) as well as several links to other NMU routes such as the [NCN Route 1].
In 2023 the Yaxley Loop Road was opened completely to traffic. This is a 1.5km single carriageway boulevard style road through the new neighbourhood of Peterborough called Great Haddon. This new section of road now means that the A15 bypasses Yaxley. The Northern and Southern ends of the Loop Road are connected to the old A15 via traffic signal controlled T-junctions, in addition there is one traffic signal controlled junction on the Loop Road, as well as several priority junctions.
In 2002, all sections of the A15 under the responsibility of the Highways Agency were detrunked and handed over to local government control.
|Straightening at the village crossroads. Roadworks were reported in an AA State of the Roads report appearing in the Sleaford Gazette on 30 December 1938.
|The 0.8 mile road opened on 30 April 1956. Forecast cost £30,000.
|Scampton Airfield Diversion
|Eastern loop road off Ermine Street due to runway extension at RAF Scampton to accommodate part of the RAF ‘V’ Bomber force. Completed 1955-58 per "Airfields of Lincolnshire since 1912", R.N.E. Blake (1984). Shown on 1962 OS One inch map but was not on the 1959 edition nor the March 1960 Quarter inch map so it may have opened later. The scheme was in its planning stages in 1955 and 1956. A tunnel had been considered but rejected due to the £800,000 cost compared to £175,000 for the diversion.
|Baston: Kate's Bridge Diversion
|Stamford Mercury of 31 October 1958 reported that all the concreting work on the new bridge over River Glen had been completed. It is expected that completion work and road connections would run into 1959.
|Barton-upon-Humber - M180 J5 Barnetby Top
|The southern 5.5 mile D2 dual carriageway was completed in June 1978. Outturn works cost £5.6 million. The 1.1 mile D2 Barton on Humber Bypass section was completed in September 1978, outturn works cost £2 million. Dates per the Policy for Roads: England 1980 Report. It is unclear if there was a temporary junction or if they opened together, although the OS 1:50k sheet 112 from 1977 (Second Series Revision A) shows a temporary junction with the B1218. It was in advance of Humber Bridge which opened in 1981.
|Hessle to Barton-upon-Humber. Opened to traffic on 24 June 1981. The official opening was on 17 July 1981 by Queen Elizabeth II. The suspension bridge had 3 spans: Hessle side (280m), Barton side (530m) and main centre span (1410m) making a total of 2,220m or 1.38 miles. Cost £90 million. It was the world’s longest single span suspension bridge when it opened and it held this record for 16 years.
|Northborough and Glinton Bypass
|The 4.5 mile road from Old Lincoln Road, Northborough to Glinton Roundabout (Werrington Parkway) was opened on 9 February 1989 by Barbara Wrout, County Council Chairman. Contractor was May Gurney, contract price £5.9 million. Part was B1524.
|Brigg and Redbourne Bypass
|The 5 mile S2 road from M180 J4 Broughton Interchange to 0.6 mile south of the B1206 crossroads (south-west of Redbourne) was opened on 20 December 1989. It was an online upgrade of the existing unclassified Ermine Street apart from the offline northern 1.3 mile. Contractor was Alfred McAlpine construction, cost £5.52 million.
|Sleaford Western Bypass
|Holdingham Roundabout to London Road, Silk Willoughby. Opened on 16 September 1993 by Douglas Hogg, MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham. 3 mile single carrigeway bypass and upgrading of 0.8 mile of A15. Contractor was Morrison Shand Construction, cost £5.6 million.
|Market Deeping and Deeping St James Bypass. Opened on 15 July 1998 (per the Lincolnshire Free Press of 21 July 1998). The official opening was on 5 August 1998. Note that it was shown on the 1997 OS 1:50000 map. Part was A16 which was later renumbered A1175.
|Lincoln Eastern Bypass
|The 4.7 mile road from Wragby Road Roundabout to Sleaford Road Roundabout opened on 19 December 2020. It included River Witham Viaduct, consisting of five 50m spans. Contractor was Galliford Try, contract value £72 million, total cost was in excess of £122 million.
|Yaxley Loop Road
|The 1 mile road opened on 23 July 2023. Contractor was Breheny Civil Engineering.
New Holland Pier