|Location Map ( geo)|
|Distance:||4.4 miles (7.1 km)|
|Meets:||A31, A341, A35, A3049, A350|
|Old route now:||B3073, B3093|
|Route outline (key)|
Merley - Poole
The A349 starts at a small roundabout in the middle of the A31 Wimborne bypass and runs up the hill to a smaller roundabout junction with the B3073, which is the original route of the A349 into Wimborne Minster. Turning right at the roundabout, the road carries on through Merley, crossing the disused original route of the Southampton to Dorchester railway, and coming to a traffic-light-controlled junction with the A341 at Gravel Hill (so named because of the large gravel quarry now occupied by the Merley housing estate).
Since the late 1990s, the section of the A349 from the A31 to the A341 is inconsistently mapped with some sources showing it as the A341 rather than the A349, most notably, the OS 1:25,000 maps. The road signs were also inconsistent, but by the mid-2000s, all the road signs had been updated with the A349 and Poole Borough Council refer to it as the A349, so that is the designation taken here.
After the A341 junction, the road enters Delph Woods and follows a dead-straight course towards Poole. Whilst the road is dead straight, it is far from level, with numerous dips and blind summits, leading to a number of accidents over the years. Halfway along, the worst accident spot – the junction with Dunyeats Road – is now a roundabout. Carrying on down into Poole, the trees clear and houses and Poole Grammar School appear.
At Darby's Corner roundabout and the junction for the B3074, an important link road across the north of Poole, the A349 becomes a dual carriageway urban road with numerous traffic lights. After half a mile, the A349 splits, with a new spur heading off to the right.
The original A349 route carries on as dual carriageway to the traffic-light-controlled Fleetsbridge roundabout. This is the biggest junction in Poole, with the A35 coming in from the right and going on down into Poole and the dual-carriageway A3049 crossing over on a flyover, providing an important east-west route across the top the Poole. The route onto into Poole as the A35 and then B3093, but is no longer the main route.
The new A349 spur is a single carriageway link road that runs for half a mile as ‘Cabot Lane’, before turning sharp left onto ‘Broadstone Way’. This road runs along the course of the original railway into Poole, crosses under the A35 and A3049 roads, close to Fleetsbridge roundabout (but without linking to any of them) and then joins the A350 dual carriageway on Holes Bay, heading into Poole.
So the A349 links the A31 to Poole via two different routes. As such, this is a very busy road and there were plans to provide a much improved link road, but that was shelved by the Labour Government at the end of the 1990s.
The A349 originally started on the A31 in the centre of Wimborne Minster and was the Wimborne to Poole main road, as shown by the use of 'Poole Road' at the Wimborne end and 'Wimborne Road' at the Poole end. When the Wimborne bypass was opened in 1981, the route was changed as described above and the original road downgraded to the multi-legged B3073 in Wimborne Minster. The road heads southwards out of Wimborne, crossing the River Stour on Newmans bridge and joining the current A349 near the Willett Arms pub.
The Fleetsbridge Roundabout has always been a important crossroads and has grown in size over the years. In the 1950s, to reduce accidents on the roundabout, Poole council put up signs telling drivers joining the roundabout to ‘Give way to traffic from the right’, but the Department of Transport told them to remove the signs as at that time, there were no specific rights of way at roundabouts. Poole council refused and were threatened with removal of subsidies. The signs were removed, only to go back up again a few years later when the law was changed.
Before the A349 was diverted along the Broadstone Relief Road in 1988, it went all the way into the centre of Poole as a multiplex with the A35 on ‘Wimborne Road’. After less than a mile, at the New Inn junction in Oakdale, the A35 diverged off to the left heading to Bournemouth and ‘Wimborne Road’ carries on into Poole before finishing at the George Roundabout next to the large shopping centre and enormous Barclays building. Today, this road is the B3093, but was the A349 until the early 1990s, although few maps showed the designation.