|Location Map ( geo)|
|From:||Foots Cray (TQ472710)|
|Distance:||12.2 miles (19.6 km)|
|Meets:||A211, A20, A223, A208, A232, A21, M25, A25, A225|
|Former Number(s):||A21, A2028|
|Route outline (key)|
The A224 is not primary but does provide a middling M25 diversion route. The road has been extended by a good seven miles since 1923 and reaches a summit of 158 m.
Foots Cray - Sevenoaks
The road starts at traffic-light-controlled junction with the A211 in Foots Cray. The A211 here is the old A20. This first section of the A224 is where the Coca Cola Schweppes UK factory is, where Cola Cola did a Delboy trick and sold water from a tap. This first section is short as we soon hit the A20 roundabout. This is called Crittals Corner named after the nearby Crittals Window factory. The roundabout has been upgraded from a graded roundabout to the junction we have now. We also have the first of the retail stores, DFS and B&Q. We go under the A20 and we head towards Orpington. The first road on the left is the original line of the A224, which ended on the then-A223 Sandy Lane - but since the 1920s we have been able to continue ahead.
Before the railway we pass the remainder of the retail stores like PC World, Currys, Homebase. Just about the usual retail stores then. This section is another early by-pass. The Orpington By-Pass was part of the inter-war arterial road building projects and this is the Cray Valley section of the road. After we go under the railway line to Swanley, we arrive at the A208 from Eltham, formerly where the A223 crossed us. Most of the junctions on this first suburban section of the road are traffic-light-controlled. We pass to the east of Orpington town centre and the A232 to Croydon starts from another set of traffic lights. After this, the houses start to filter out and after the turn off for the village of Chelsfield, we're in the countryside.
We're now over 100 m above sea level as we pass a Pick Your Own place called Hewitts Farm on the left. There were plans to build a large shopping centre here but thank God they didn't. This is green belt land. At the roundabout for the A21 and M25, we're 143 m above sea level. This roundabout was built when the M25 was built in 1986 and rerouted the A21 to meet it. The 1920s extension of the A224 bore right to end on the then-A21 near Knockholt station and it was that road that continued into Sevenoaks.
As we enter Badgers Mount, we go over the railway line to Sevenoaks. You can see the air vents for the Polhill railway tunnel on the right and after the next roundabout on the left. That roundabout is where we join the original route of the A21 coming in from the right. We soon reach the top of the hill called Polhill, and start to descend. It has a crawler lane which use to finish at the top of the hill but now extends only two thirds up the hill. This is just left over from when this was the A21. Just at the top of Polhill, on the right, is Fort Halstead, which originally was on of the Napoleonic forts built to protect London. It is now in the hands of an agency of the Ministry of Defence and is not friendly to casual visitors. We descend Pohill and see glimpses of the M25. Part of the reason that J5 of the M25 had lights and J2-4 didn't was because of the A21, now A224. We go downhill with brief glimpses of the M25.
We're now at the bottom of Polhill. After a junction for Otford, we arrive at a roundabout. This was where the old D2 Sevenoaks By-pass used to start, following what is now the M25 and its spur to the A21, until the motorway was extended north to J4 eight years later and the access here blocked off. The Pilgrims Way turned off to the left for Otford, the one we just passed and London Road (formerly the A2028) which leads on to Dunton Green continued south. In the mid 1980s, the A21 was upgraded from D2 to D3M to become the M25 and the A2028 became the A224 when that road was extended south of Badgers Mount. The junction for Otford, which was formerly a GSJ, is one of the leftovers from those days.
We TOTSO left at a roundabout. Straight on is the B2211 for Chevening and Sundridge. Turning right will take you to Knockholt. We cross the M25 on the old northbound A2028 bridge. Now there is very little evidence of the old alignment and very few remains of the old junction.
We now leave the M25 behind as we head into Sevenoaks. We meet up with the old southbound A2028 before we go over an old hump bridge after the M26 in central Dunton Green. This was for the Dunton Green to Westerham branch line (closed 1961). The bridge acts a pedestrian subway now. We arrive at Riverhead, where we have a mini multiplex with the A25 on a D2 section between adjacent mini-roundabouts.
We pass Sevenoaks station and soon enter the town centre. We meet the A225 from Dartford and our road ends. At this junction, there is an old signpost that predates the A224 here, a leftover from when the A21 went though Sevenoaks. This was where the A225 ended at Sevenoaks until the Sevenoaks By-Pass was completed in 1966 and that road was extended along the pre-bypass road to Tonbridge and then cut back around 1975/6. The cut section is now B245.
Original Author(s): A Beaton and A211 Driver