|From:||Thornaby on Tees (NZ454149)|
|Length:||34.4 miles (55.4 km)|
|Meets:||A1044, A19, B1380, A1032, B1365, A172, A171, A1053, A1042, B1269, A1085, B1268, A173, B1366, B1266, B1416, B1460|
|Former Number(s):||B1267, B1266|
|Old route now:||A1130, A1032, B1380|
|Route outline (key)|
The A174 is the main road to the south of the Teesside conurbation and then on along the coast to Whitby.
In many ways the A174 can been seen as an example of the changing fortunes and plans of the Teesside area. With sections of wildly different standards it stands as a symbol of how Cleveland/Teesside/The Tees Valley has changed in the last 50 years, influenced by changing industry, new housing developments, redevelopment and attempts to drive investment, it has been the victim and victor of the numerous local authority changes which have effected the area since the 1960s.
Thornaby on Tees - Lazenby
Starting in the west, the current A174 begins on the southern edge of Thornaby at traffic lights end-on on the A1044. The roads in this area have been influenced by the growth of Ingleby Barwick, one of the largest housing developments in the region, since the 1990s. There have been plans in the past to continue the route north-west of this junction, through Thornaby Wood, to meet the A66. These plans evolved over the years to produce the recently built Queen Elizabeth Way and the 1812 Way (A135), which heads north into Stockton-on-Tees town centre.
A further clue as to the former plans for the A174 can be seen at the junction with the A19 which has huge 'ski jumps' to the east of the current roundabout. These were for a third level to be added to the junction and thence continue westward as per the above plans. Built as part of the A19 bypass of Thornaby, a continuation of the A174 westward was originally part of wider plans for the roads around Teesside in the 1960s-80s. As part of the A19 widening works of the late 1990s (see DBFO section below) these ski jumps were altered and direct slip roads added at the roundabout; this has shown that any former plans for a three-level junction have now been scrapped.
The current D2 A174 between the A19 and Lazenby was built in the 1970s/80s to form a southern bypass of Middlesbrough and its environs and is known as 'The Parkway'. As well as serving the huge industry of the area, such as around Grangetown, it also acts as the main road link to Teesport. The Parkway is the main access to the massive housing developments around Coulby Newham, Eston, and Nunthorpe. There is a shopping centre in Coulby Newham called 'The Parkway Centre' after the road. Traffic for Whitby is directed off at the A172 to swing around Nunthorpe and join the A171 across the moors, 'The Moors Road'. The Parkway section of the A174 is all grade-separated until the roundabout at Lazenby.
Between the A19 and Lazenby the road has trunk status and is maintained for Highways England as part of the £30m 'A19 Dishforth Tyne Tunnel' DBFO contract currently held by Autolink Concessionaries (A19) Ltd. The design and build part of this contract, which runs from 1997 to 2027, was to widen the A19 between the A174 junction mentioned above and Norton.
At the Greystones roundabout near Lazenby traffic for Teesport and the industry of the south Tees is directed north along the A1053 and the A174 losses both its trunk and primary status, although it remains dual.
Lazenby - Whitby
Between Lazenby and Whitby the A174 is known as 'The Coast Road', as opposed to the aforementioned 'Moors Road' of the A171, although it never gets too close to the sea. Redcar is bypassed by a decent section of D2 which then narrows to S2 for the Marske bypass; however this section was obviously built with possible widening in mind. The eastern end of the Marske bypass is at the huge Quarry Lane roundabout with the A1085. This roundabout was built so the former A174 into Marske (now the A1085) and the former B1267 could both be accommodated as until a few years ago the A174 continued straight across at the roundabout into Saltburn. It now turns right and heads south along the old B1267 towards Skelton.
Here we encounter one of the quirks of the new route as the A174 is directed up the winding Apple Orchard Bank before another roundabout TOTSO on Marske Lane where the A173 takes over as the road ahead. This is all upgraded B-road - but remains better quality than the old road through Saltburn with its steep hills and hairpin bends.
The next few miles were built in the 1990s/2000s and have very much the feel of a regional investment road designed meant to attract companies to the area: a decent S2 but with lots of roundabouts. Soon after the bypass ends and the A174 rejoins the original Coast Road and we pass the massive Skinningrove steel works, now run by TATA Steel of India, before dropping down Mill Bank and under the modern viaduct for the freight rail line to Boulby. This viaduct was built in the 1990s to improve the A174 on this steep slope and cut out a serious right-angle turn under the original Victorian railway bridge near the former Skinningrove railway station. Even with this improvement to the road we suddenly encounter a dogleg turn at the bottom of the dip before curving round and heading up Loftus Bank.
Heading through the yet to be bypassed Loftus and Easington we can see how this area around the Cleveland coast has experienced huge industrial growth and decline over the last 200 or so years. A modern working example of the area's heavy industry is the Boulby Potash Mine which is one of the largest producers of the grit used on Britain's roads every winter. Opened in the 1960s it is Europe's second deepest mine and also helped research into dark matter.
Skirting the top of Staithes, and cutting the corner on Runswick Bay the A174 heads inland and meets the B1266 which has come across from the A171 Moors Road before returning to the sea at Sandsend. At this popular tourist spot the road curves down Lythe Bank and has two 90-degree turns to cross the stream. We continue on the sea front alongside the beach. Another few miles and we reach the outskirts of Whitby. In the suburbs of Whitby the B1416 forms a kind of bypass between the A171 and A174 before they meet properly at the top of Prospect Hill. As the main route into the centre of Whitby from the A171 this final section of the A174 is often gridlocked in summer time but it's just another character of this wildly different road.
Very little of the current route of the A174 still runs on its original 1922 route.
The original western end of the A174 was on the A176 (now A66) in Thornaby on Tees. It then headed through Acklam to reach its current alignment at Coulby Newham. This section of road is now A1130 and A1032, then the old road follows the B1380 through the southern suburbs before old and new meet at Lazenby.
Kirkleatham, Marske and Saltburn have now been bypassed - and the A174 originally ended end-on on the A173 in the centre of Brotton, also now bypassed.
From Brotton to Whitby the original number of the road was B1266; the A174 was extended over this in 1935 to end on the A171 (now B1460). With the construction of the new bridge in 1980 the A171 was diverted across it and the A174 was extended to meet it.