|Length:||15.9 miles (25.6 km)|
|Meets:||A2, A2211, A200, A2203, A102, A2204, A205, A2016, A209, A2041, A220, A2016, A2000, A2026, A282, A226|
|Former Number(s):||B251, B252, B255|
|Old route now:||A2026|
|Route outline (key)|
Serving the lower reaches of the Thames through south-east London, the A206 will be known to viewers of the London Marathon as the road where the two streams of runners finally merge into one, heading from Woolwich into Greenwich (in the opposite direction to the account below). I wish that it could be as empty of traffic all the time!
Section 1: Deptford to Erith
The A206 starts in a fairly uninspired fashion at Deptford Bridge DLR station on the A2 Blackheath Road. Running along Greenwich High Road into Greenwich itself, it passes the station before reaching the Cutty Sark on a one-way system in the middle of the town. We head along Trafalgar Road, with the impressive-looking "University of Greenwich" on our left. This building is in fact the former Royal Naval College and was taken over by the former Thames Polytechnic, creating the most impressive setting for a "new" university that I know of! On our right is Greenwich Park and the Maritime Museum, which we'll probably have plenty of time to admire as we sit in the traffic. As the road passes the junction with Trafalgar Grove, we cross the Greenwich Meridian and pass into the Eastern Hemisphere. Coming out of Greenwich we see Maze Hill on our right, leading to the relatively quiet railway station of the same name, then the A2203 (Blackwall Lane) on our left, a handy little shortcut to the Blackwall Tunnel.
Then there's a signal-controlled roundabout allowing access to the overhead A102, the main Blackwall Tunnel approach (formerly classified as A102(M)). From here we progress through Charlton along Woolwich Road, passing the new (built in 2015) M&S/Sainsburys hypermarket. Heading east, the road becomes a dual carriageway. Sadly, it is no longer possible to see the Thames Barrier from the road, but it's signed as an exit on the left a kilometre or so further on. At the start of Woolwich Church Street, we reach the marathon "merge point" that was referred to above.
The next roundabout is the eastern end of the South Circular Road. The A205 South Circular heads along John Wilson Street to our right, while New Ferry Road (actually the A2204 but signed "N. Circular Rd. A117") runs onto the jetty for the Woolwich Ferry to our left. From here the A206 runs straight on as a dual carriageway past the site of the Royal Arsenal, with another lesser-known branch of the A205 (Woolwich New Road) heading off to the right.
At one time, the section of road past the Arsenal gates was single carriageway, and a moment later became three-lane dual for less than a mile, returning just as abruptly to single-carriageway when it hit Plumstead High Street. This rather unusual situation was a result of the road using the formation of the former tram tracks that used to run through the centre of Woolwich. Nowadays one of these lanes is a bus lane, with the other two lanes providing for other traffic between Woolwich and Plumstead. Just before Plumstead Station there is a gyratory junction (formerly known as 'Frog Island') with the road entrance to Woolwich Arsenal and the A2016, the road serving the housing development at Thamesmead and perhaps a better way to Erith. Whilst most traffic has to travel around the 700 metre roundabout, buses are allowed to proceed the "wrong way" around the gyratory. The eastern side of the gyratory was home to Arsenal Football Club for 25 years between 1888 and 1913; the Manor Ground was situated on what is now the Nathan Way Industrial Estate.
The road narrows considerably along Plumstead High Street, and after the junction with the A209 Wickham Lane climbs up Bostall Hill through Bostall Woods to Bostall Heath. Passing Knee Hill on our left, we run along the edge of Lesnes Abbey Wood, which gives its name to the adjoining district of Abbey Wood - the wood still contains the old abbey ruins, which is something of a surprise for an area in the middle of suburbia.
Section 2: Erith to Dartford
After passing the junction with the A220, we arrive at the other end of the A2016 Bronze Age Way. It is a roundabout and we TOTSO, since as if we go straight ahead, we end up in Erith town centre. The road is now D2 until the junction with the A2000. Before the next roundabout, the railway line to Erith goes under us to head to Slade Green Depot. There are lots of car dealerships and tower blocks on this stretch, and after crossing the railway line from Kidbrooke and Eltham, we meet the A2000 and TOTSO yet again. We are now on the last bit of S2, passing an industrial estate and the B2186 to Crayford. It's controlled by traffic lights and since this is still London, slow ones. You now start to see a little more green as we go under the railway line that heads to Dartford and now we are in modern day Kent.
After crossing the Border, we arrive at a roundabout. Again we TOTSO to the left. The road ahead is the A2026 to Dartford. This D2 road was known as the Dartford Northern Bypass when it was in planning and then was called University Way on opening. However, no university was ever built. The road was later renamed as Bob Dunn Way (after the MP for Dartford from 1979-97 who died in 2003).
Very soon we go over the River Darent that gave Dartford its name. Well sort of. We go over it and we see the Dartford Bridge for the first time. At the first roundabout, you will head to the flood barrier and for the closed Joyce Green Hospital, The next roundabout is a nothing exit then we arrive at J1A of the 'M25' (really A282). This junction is a dumbbell arrangement and now controlled by traffic lights. This impedes our progress. The second roundabout, we TOTSO again as the road straight head is a road to Dartford. On OS Landranger Map 177, its number is B3228 but really it is the B2228.
We now enter Crossway Business Park, the biggest on the M25. On our way down, we see the Dartford Hilton and there is to be a Hollywood-style sign saying Crossways. We now meet roundabout after roundabout. The first few yards, we're parallel with the A282 then turn right. The next roundabout is for a Freight Terminal. The next roundabout is for Stone Crossing Station, just one of the many somewhat underwhelming stations in this area. We're now pass a sand thing and a newish ASDA store then our second to last roundabout. We're outside another naff station, Greenhithe, the station for the Bluewater shopping mall. At the next roundabout, the road turns right to go under the railway line to end on the A226.
On classification in 1922 the western section of the A206 was identical to its current route, although of course there were no one-way loops and gyratories in those days. The road then went through the middle of Erith; its current route was then numbered B251 and B252.
Continuing south the road met the A2000 and ended there end-on. The 1923 [OS Ministry of Transport Road Map|MoT map]] then shows a road under construction, given the A206 number, into the centre of Dartford where the road just ends. When the road was opened the A206 was extended onto the B254 Hythe Street and followed that to end on the A2 High Street.
This new-build section lasted until 1993 as part of the A206. In that year the road was diverted onto another new road to the north of Dartford to meet the A282; the old road was renumbered A2026. The A206 was later extended further into Greenhithe to give the road its current length.