A41/Chester - Birkenhead
|Meets:||A41, A5116, A5032, A5117, B5132, B5463, A550, M53, B5136, B5149, A5227, Queensway Tunnel, A5030, A554|
|Old route now:||B5136|
|Route outline (key)|
After the north end of the Chester bypass, the A41 has a brief dual carriageway through the Upton-by-Chester lights (camera!), then back to single past the roundabout for the famous zoo and down the dip over the Shropshire Union Canal. There's little scope for a burst of speed on the dual carriageway ahead because of a notorious minor road crossing at Backford (hence the screaming 'slow' signs). The junction with the Ellesmere Port road (A5032) sees the start of a short four lane single carriageway, which passes under the nascent M56 before crossing the A5117. Cheshire rural is now swapped for Wirral urban. (The formal Cheshire County / Wirral Borough boundary is further on at Hooton, just before the M53.)
The next 11 miles is mostly 40 mph single carriageway through urban sprawl. Cycle lanes, now reduce what were once two lanes each way through Great and Little Sutton, to one in each direction. From now on the traffic lights seem countless (I did try once). The 1970s M53 has siphoned much traffic off the A41 (it used to have a fearsome reputation) but despite still being an urban artery, progress on the older road is usually smooth. Historical Wirral interest is pretty well lost, if only because many kinks (i.e. through former villages) have been ironed out. The bypass of Eastham Village (whose old route is now the B5132) is so old that it dates back to A51 days; the A41 has always bypassed it. The very straight stretch north of Bromborough was created in the early 19th century to serve burgeoning industries, replacing the wriggling coach road to the west. Soon after this, comes the modern New Ferry dual carriageway by-pass and time was when this gave welcome relief from the (necessary) 40 limit. But alas, for what I'm sure must have been very good reasons…, this too was lost in the late 1990s when a 50 limit sprouted.
At the end of the New Ferry by-pass, the 50 drops straight to 30 (care - camera). This is Tranmere, where former industrial dereliction along the road has been replaced with the usual range of out-of-town superstores. (Ahead, but off our route, is the Queensway Tunnel under the Mersey (opened 1934), still tolled (£1.60 for a car or bike in 2013). The end is now nigh. Shortly before the tunnel, the A41 peels off into Birkenhead and, as Chester Street, is only stopped from running into the river by the bus station. Google Maps and the Ordnance Survey label the Queensway Tunnel as part of the A41 too but this is unlikely to be the case in reality.