|From:||New Town, Dartford (TQ551738)|
|Length:||3 miles (4.8 km)|
|Meets:||A226, A225, A282, A2|
|Former Number(s):||A2, B260|
|Old route now:||B2500|
|Route outline (key)|
The A296 is a short A-road running east of Dartford.
The current route is a relatively recent creation, from the 1970s, although the road can be traced back to 1927 (see History). The first section is fairly insignificant, being suburbia. Parts of the route are DB2 (Dual Busway 2).
New Town, Dartford - Bean
The road starts at a mini-roundabout on the A226 to the east of Dartford town centre and heads southeastwards along the short Park Road.
When we meet the A225/B260 at a roundabout, this is where we meet the most recent change for the A296. A new busway, really more like a new road just for buses, has been built. We TOTSO left onto a multiplex with the A225 eastbound - but not for long. After a short section of DB2 we meet A282 J1B (this is the M25 in disguise). Most - but not all - of the traffic leaves here; the rest follows onto the next section of DB2 A296. A semi industrial part of town, the Fastrack busway which makes the A296 DB2 goes off into its own dissected road at Fleet estate while we become straight D2. More PS2 (Parallel S2).
This was where Dartford FC used to play before being exiled from Dartford Town for 14 years. They are now returned home to Dartford at a new site off Princes Road (local name of this road and the A225). Anyway, the A296 comes to an older section of rebuilt road. Formerly straight and traffic-light-controlled, it is a pinched roundabout. This is where we meet the B2500, formerly B2200, and earlier still the A296 itself.
We continue straight towards Darent Valley Hospital, a modern hospital built on the site of the original. The junction for it has a link with Fastrack and the junction for it is a roundabout. It is a lot lighter since the building of the hospital and Fastrack. Indeed after that roundabout, the Fastrack busway heads towards Bluewater on a very steep hill. We on the other hand stay straight and true. This is a Roman Road after all and Dartford has been around almost as long as London.
Before we meet the B255 though, we curve to the right. A lamppost from the original junction with the B255 still remains. It's now been 10 years since work started on the B255 upgrade for Bluewater and as we go under it, we arrive at the roundabout. As some of the other members of SABRE have commented, I can also remember when it was a simple roundabout. Now it is a weird GSJ, looking at first glance like an ordinary dumbbell but with some movements missing - and most of the movements are on the old line of the B255. Traffic for the westbound A2 as well as both directions on the B255 turns right onto a spur of the B255 - this is where most of the traffic goes.
The A296 continues ahead on what is effectively a super slip road. It is at this point the S2 section of the road ends and the last few hundred yards is the eastbound onslip onto the A2. As there is only one way to go, its onwards towards the Medway Towns, Dover and the M2 Motorway. Paris too via Ebbfleet International Station.
The A296 number was originally allocated to the stretch of Watling Street that is now the B2500, joining the A226 to what was then the A2 (Watling Street / Princes Road on the outskirts of Dartford). This number appears on the 1927 edition of sheet 34 of the half-inch MOT map.
The history of the road becomes murky between 1927 and the 1970s - it continues to be shown as an A Road, but is not numbered on the fifth, sixth or seventh series of the Ordnance Survey one-inch map. It is a fair assumption, however, that the A296 lived on during this period, and was then extended along Watling Street when the current A2 Dartford By-pass was opened in 1972. It was subsequently re-routed along Princes Road and Park Road (formerly the B260), possibly in about 1978.
(pre-2006 Wiki entry)
A short, relatively recent creation that mostly runs along bits of what used to be the A2 east of Dartford. It leaves the A226 - East Hill in Dartford - and soon receives the A225 at a roundabout, where we totso left, almost immediately encountering the A282 which has just taken over from the M25 here at Junction 1b (locally styled Princes Road Interchange). Over the Dartford Crossing Approach we go, still in suburbia, until an elongated roundabout where the B2200 joins opposite the unnervingly named John's Hole (a disused chalk pit, actually). Now we are on Watling Street (was A2) and, after another roundabout, behold the mighty Bluewater shopping labyrinth to the left (another Hole, in fact). Soon there is the mildly bizarre phenomenon of a GSJ with a B road (the B255) that takes priority as a dual-carriageway overbridge, while the A296 slows up at the now customary roundabout. Turn right here for the London-bound A2 and Bean (any other villages named after legumes?), whereas the A296 now goes straight on as, before long, a one-way slip-road that oozes down to join the eastbound A2, and is beset with queues when too many shoppers are trying to escape from Bluewater at once. Here endeth the road.
Original Author(s): Simon Mold, Charles(A211 Driver) & A Beaton