|Birmingham Former Outer Ring Road|
|From:||The Hawthorns (SP029901)|
|Via:||Erdington, Yardley, King's Heath, Harborne|
|Distance:||26.5 miles (42.6 km)|
|Meets:||A41, A4040, A34, A5127, A38, A47, A45, A41, A34, A435, A441, A38, A4123, A456, A4030, A457, A41, A4040|
|Old route now:||A38|
|Route outline (key)|
The A4040 is the former Birmingham Outer Ring Road. The route is no longer officially considered to be a ring road, but there are still Ring Road signs along its route.
The road is a complete ring (with a few discontinuities at multiplexes) with a short spur at its northwestern corner. For the purposes of this description the road starts at the end of the spur.
The Hawthorns - Bromford
The A4040 starts near The Hawthorns on the A41. Only eastbound traffic may join the A4040 whilst the A41 may be joined in either direction. The A4040 zigzags to the east along a D2 residential road with wide central reservation; these are common in the Birmingham area and were used to carry tram lines. The road soon narrows (presumably from this point on the trams ran along the street) and a set of traffic lights is soon reached. This marks the end of the spur as the mainline of the A4040 comes in from the right and continues ahead, as shall we.
Remaining residential, the A4040 continues eastwards to cross two roundabouts - the first serving unclassified roads; the second the B4124 - before going over a railway line. We soon reach Perry Bar and a complicated GSJ with the A34. It's simple for A4040 traffic, however, as we just go straight across the roundabout. We now continue east along Aston Lane to a roundabout where we turn left. Ahead is the B4137 (and Villa Park) whilst right is the B4140 which leads back to the A34. We now go under the Birmingham to Walsall railway line by Witton station to enter a more industrial area. We cross the River Tame and then run adjacent to the river until we get the houses back. Turning away, we go over the Tame Valley Canal and under the M6. The road becomes D2 again on the far side as we pass the cemetery.
A few bends further on we reach traffic lights and the B4531. That road now takes our central reservation and we continue on as S2 along Reservoir Road. The reservoir itself is hidden in a gap in the houses on the left after the hospital on the right. We descend to go over the Cross City Line then cross the A5127 at the Six Ways roundabout. We climb Wood End Road to become D2, which leads to a signalised crossroads on the A38. This junction does not allow eastbound A38 traffic to turn onto the southbound A4040; after we cross the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal we meet a spur allowing that movement along with opposite. We continue south through an industrial estate and soon reach a roundabout where we cross the A47, go under the M6 and go over the Birmingham to Tamworth railway line at the same time.
Bromford - Stirchley
Back on a residential road we remain D2 for some time. After crossing the B4114 (former A47) at traffic lights we narrow at a roundabout before crossing the River Cole; this is a long, narrow green area and a brief respite from our urban slog. As the houses come back we join a gyratory, where northbound A4040 traffic follows the straight road whilst southbound traffic follows the other two sides of the triangle, meeting a retail park in the process.
After the two directions are reunited we pass between the retail park and an industrial estate before crossing the Birmingham to Coventry railway line just by Stetchford station. We then continue along the residential Station Road then onto Stoney Lane. At one time this was a dual carriageway but both directions now use the northbound carriageway whilst the southbound carriageway is now a service road.
The road becomes D2 properly at an elongated roundabout. At the next roundabout the original line of the road has had a Tesco built on it and so we bear round to the right before crossing the A45 where we always have; this junction is one of the best engineered GSJs on that section of A45 but as far as we're concerned it's just a roundabout.
On the far side we're back to S2 (although the houses on the left are set back sufficiently far to allow that second carriageway). At the next roundabout we meet the B4146 for the first time; we'll be seeing a lot of that road as we continue on. It takes the route ahead whilst we bear right to cross the Grand Union Canal and become dual in the process. A disembodied section of the B4146 bears off to the right and we then cross the Birmingham to Warwick railway line to meet the A41, technically meaning we're halfway round.
The A41 is crossed via a short multiplex between adjacent sets of traffic lights. We continue south along the interestingly named Fox Hollies Road, which is initially S2 but becomes D2 after the next roundabout, where we meet the B4146. Two wide dual carriageways (the first the B4514, the second unclassified) bear off to the left as we continue through the leafy suburbs. The B4146 leaves us at the next roundabout and we continue on to cross the A34 at an uncontrolled staggered crossroads. For through traffic it was probably better to use the B4146 which got traffic lights. We remain D2 to the next roundabout where we turn right to go along the only road meeting the roundabout which is S2 (although again there's a suspicious-looking service road on the right). Now heading west, the road loses the service road to go under the Birmingham to Stratford railway line and over the River Cole (with another brief semi-rural respite).
We become D2 again for a short distance, the S2 plus service road as we pass Swanshurst Park. This situation continues across a roundabout with an unclassified road to the next one, where we cannon off the B4146, finally saying goodbye to the road. The next section of road is wide, as we pass a playing field, then turn right at the second roundabout to cross the A435 at traffic lights. We soon come to a signalised crossroads where we have to turn left (all other movements are permitted) and we head southwestwards along Vicarage Road. We zigzag over the Camp Hill Line and continue on to cross the River Rea to reach a T-junction on the A441.
Stirchley - Handforth
There's now a multiplex to the left along the A441 for about half a mile, over the Worcester & Birmingham Canal and the Cross City Line into the centre of Cotteridge. The A4040 regains its number by turning right at a roundabout to head north along Watford Road. It continues into Bournville (this has distinctive architecture and the change is quite pronounced) where it passes the Cadbury's factory and the attractive Bournville Green - yes, we are still within the City of Birmingham!
The road climbs and becomes more utilitarian, soon reaching the Selly Oak Triangle, a form of gyratory and a multiplex with the A38. Northbound traffic continues straight on at the traffic lights, meeting the southbound direction after a short distance. Southbound traffic, meanwhile, follows the other two sides of the triangle, turning right then left at traffic lights. The A38 then turns right at a roundabout whilst we bear left and soon cross the Bournbrook (not the river Bournville is named after), at almost the exact spot where Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire meet at a point. Now in the first, there is a short one-way loop after the next roundabout, then the road continues as D2 into the centre of Harborne. After narrowing we are forced left on meeting the B4124 High Street, then turn right at the next roundabout (where we can U-turn if we actually wanted the B4124).
The A4123 turns off at the next roundabout (although back in the 1930s this was where the A4040 turned off the A4123) and continues north along the seemingly affluent Lordswood Road to reach Bearwood and a signalised crossroads. Left and right is the A456 whilst ahead is the A4030 meaning that there's now another multiplex. We turn right and head along the A456, which here marks the boundary between Birmingham and Sandwell. The A4040 regains its number by taking the next turn left, still along the boundary, to a T-junction by the Redeemed Christian Church of God. We TOTSO right to multiplex with the B4182, leaving the Sandwell boundary behind. At the next set of traffic lights we TOTSO left, with the B4182 continuing to the A456.
We now head northeast along the dead-straight City Road, once again lined with terraced houses. We cross a couple of B-roads on this section, the first at traffic lights, before reaching another set of lights on the A457 Dudley Road. We turn right and multiplex past Summerfield Park to the next set of lights where we turn left to regain the A4040 number. We pass a Lidl then go over two branches of the Birmingham Canal, with the Stour Valley Line in between. The road gives way to light industry and we skirt the high brick wall of Winson Green Prison (officially HMP Birmingham). These give way to houses once more and we pass under two railway bridges (with allotments in between); the second now carries the Midland Metro and the station here is Winson Green Outer Circle, taking its name from the A4040.
Continuing north we soon bend to the right to reach traffic lights on the A41 in Handsworth. There's now a multiplex to the left to the next set of lights where we turn right and regain our number. Now on the final stretch we continue north on the residential Rookery Road. Presently we become lined by a few shops and we reach a signalised T-junction, where both other routes are the A4040. We've completed the circle and returned to the end of the spur mentioned near the top of the page.
The A4040 came into existence in 1935 as a northern bypass of Birmingham. Starting on the A4123 in Harborne it ran clockwise along formerly unclassified roads to Handsworth, where it picked up the B4137 to Witton (presumably the road gained its spur from the outset as that was the original line of the B4137), then the B4140 to Bromford and finally the B4146 to Ward End and the A47. Meanwhile the B4146 was being extended to form the eastern and southern bypass (see that road's page for more details) whilst the ring was completed between Cotteridge and Harborne by the A4123.
This situation existed at least until the 1960s when it was decided that having a single number for the outer ring road would be better. The A4040 was therefore extended along the entire route mentioned above. However, it did not follow the B4146 exactly - deviating at several points - so that road still exists where the A4040 decided not to follow it. The full ring did gain a few multiplexes where it deemed unnecessary to renumber a radial route, most notably in the Cotteridge area along the A441.
In 2011 another multiplex was created when the A38 Selly Oak bypass was built; this took over a short section of the A4040 before moving onto its new-build. Southbound A4040 traffic always had to multiplex along the A38 at the Selly Oak Triangle.