|To:||Axe Bridge (SY263926)|
|Distance:||43.2 miles (69.5 km)|
|Meets:||A39, A3065, A3027, A3038, A3259, A38, M5, A378, A303, A30, A35, A3052|
|Former Number(s):||A361, A374|
|Old route now:||A3027, A303, A3088|
|Route outline (key)|
Williton - Taunton
The A358 starts at a mini-roundabout, forming the junction with the A39 in the middle of Williton in Somerset. The road heads eastwards out of Williton, climbing up the hill, before crossing the preserved West Somerset Railway for the first of several times. The road parallels the railway all the way to Taunton. The road passes through many little hamlets, but few actual villages. Nevertheless, it is a fairly slow and windy road for this stretch.
After around 8 miles, the road passes under the West Somerset Railway, and back under again a few hundred yards later. This section of the road affords some wonderful views of the steam trains, and on gala days is often choked with photographers!!
Passing around Bishops Lydeard (the current terminus of the railway) on a bypass, we pass Norton Manor camp, home of 40 Commando Royal Marines.
We next come to a roundabout junction, where the A358 forms a TOTSO. This road used to be the A361, with the eastern section now the A358 and the western section the B3227. Before the A361 was moved (with the opening of the North Devon Link Road), the A358 would multiplex with the A361 towards Taunton.
Heading eastwards around the north side of Taunton, we quickly pass the junction with the A3065 which forms a western bypass of Taunton. After another half a mile, we come to the junction with the A3027 at Staplegrove. This was the original route for the A358, joining the A38 in the centre of Taunton. However, today we continue eastwards (along more of the ex-A361), passing the junction with the A3038 before coming to a TOTSO with the A3259. The ex-A361 carried straight on here before crossing the A38 on the outskirts of Taunton; this section is now the A3259, before the A361 carries on after the A38, creating a gap of nearly 20 miles between the two sections of the A361.
Taunton - Chard
The A358 turns right at this junction on a new alignment, crossing the railway on Obridge viaduct. We then come to the junction with the A38 “Toneway” dual carriageway, where we also meet the other end of the A3038, and turn left. The A358 multiplexes with the A38 for three-quarters of a mile before the A38 takes a left turn and the dual carriageway carries on as the A358 before reaching Junction 25 of the M5 half a mile later.
The next section of the A358, from the M5 to the end of the A303 Ilminster bypass, is a primary route, forming a link between the A303 and the M5, avoiding the Blackdown Hills section of the A303. It is proposed that this route be upgraded in preference to dualling the A303 through the Blackdown Hills.
The first section of 2.5 miles up to the A378 junction is partially dualled, although with a number of restrictions. After the A378, the road has been improved over the years, with bypasses of Hatch Beauchamp, Ashill, and Horton Cross forming an almost continuous wide and sweeping single carriageway on a new alignment. The old sections of A358 can be seen on the map, criss-crossing the new alignment.
Nine miles after the junction with the M5, we come to a large roundabout forming the junction with the end of the A303 Ilminster bypass, infamous for being built as an S3, but lined out as a wide S2. To carry on the A358, we have to go right around the roundabout, passing both turnings for the A303 and another for the B3168 to Ilminster, before picking up the A358 again. The A358 heads westwards for a couple of hundred yards, before turning southwards at Horton Cross.
At Horton Cross, the northern leg used to be the A358 before that was rerouted to the roundabout on the A303 and the southern leg used to be the A374. The east-west route was the A303 before the Broadway and Ilminster bypasses were built, but the eastern leg was originally the A358.
Heading southwards on the old A374, the A358 crosses over the A303 and passes through the village of Donyatt. South of Donyatt, there is a short section of road which was built on the disused, ex-Great Western Taunton to Chard branch. At this point, the A358 used to turn sharply to the right to cross over the railway, curve southwards, cross over the railway again and turn sharply left. The old A3037 (since declassified) used to come in from the left on this section. The rerouting of the road over the old railway has removed all the bends.
The A358 carries on southwards, through hilly countryside before reaching Chard, where it crosses the A30. Chard is the first major town the A358 goes through (after skirting around Taunton). Chard is mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086) as Cerdre meaning 'The royal house of Cerdic', from the Celtic personal name. The kingdom of the West Saxons, Wessex, was founded by Cerdic in 495 AD. Reputedly established in 1206 by a charter from the Bishop of Bath and Wells but rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1578, Chard is the most southerly town in Somerset, only one mile from the Devon border, on a slope of hills 500 ft above sea level.
With the pedestrianisation of Silver Street, the A358 has been realigned after the A30 crossing but quickly regains its alignment and passes through the old town.
Chard - Axe Bridge
Skirting around the church, with the B3162 crossing, the A358 carries southwards out of the town. Passing the villages of Tatworth and South Chard, we pick up the B3167 coming in at an acute angle on the left. The B3167 is also the Fosse Way and so the A358 now follows the course of the original long distance route. At this junction, we also cross into Devon.
The route down to Axminster is reasonably straight, indicating its Roman origins. In Axminster, the A358 has been rerouted to avoid some of the narrower streets. The A358 used to cross the A35 in Axminster, but that road is now the B3261 after the 1980s-build Axminster bypass took that road out of the town.
Heading out of Axminster, we have a short slip road joining the A35 before passing under that road. We carry on southwards, following the course of the Fosse Way, although judging by bends, we are not following it very closely.
Four miles after Axminster, we come to a crossroads with the A3052 (which used to be the A35) near Colyford and, after 48 miles, the end of the A358. The other side of the crossroads is the B3172 down to Seaton, just under 2 miles away, and it would seem likely that the A358 used to carry on into Seaton, but there is no indication this was ever the case. The 1922 roads listing says the A374 went to Colyford, and maps from 1932 and 1964 show the A374/A358 finishing on the A35/A3052.
Original Author(s): Jim Cobb
Taunton - Southfields
In 2017, consultation was announced on a dual carriageway upgrade for the A358 between Taunton and Southfields (the M5 and A303).
Taunton - Yeovil
The A358 appears to maintain its original course from the M5 to the A378 junction at Ash (except for the detour in Taunton), but it then used to turn off at the next left, running through Hatch Beauchamp. It then turned right onto Village Road at the crossroads, to return to its current route. After half a mile or so, it again diverges to the right this time, passing through Ashill to Three Oaks Cross, and then heading south on a series of now disconnected lanes via Thickthorn Cross, past Jordans and so to Horton Cross near Ilminster.
From Horton Cross, the A358 used to go eastwards through Ilminster, South Petherton, Stoke-sub-Hamdon and Montacute before reaching Yeovil. It crossed the A37 before ending on the A30 to the east of the town centre. When it was decided to create the A303 to replace the A30 as a major route from London to the West Country, the section from Horton Cross to South Petherton was renumbered as part of the A303 (which carried on north-eastwards towards Ilchester), and the remaining section of the A358 became the A3088. At this time, the A374 was renumbered the A358 and so instead of heading to Yeovil, the A358 headed southwards. The A303 Horton Cross to South Petherton was downgraded to an unclassified road when the Ilminster bypass was built, with the exception of the short section between the new A303 roundabout west of Ilminster and the B3168 in Ilminster which became part of the B3168.
- Creating an Expressway to the South West - December 2013 (archive.org)
- Taunton to Southfields Consultation Brochure - March 2017
- Taunton to Southfields Technical Summary - March 2017