|From:||Worcester (W) (SO818545)|
|To:||Stretton Sugwas (SO466424)|
|Length:||25.5 miles (41 km)|
|Meets:||A44, A4440, B4503, B4219, B4220, B4214, A417, A465, A49, A4110, A480|
|Former Number(s):||B4207, A465|
|Old route now:||B4485|
|Route outline (key)|
The A4103 is a major east-west road in the Midlands, being one of the main roads into Hereford from the east.
The road starts at a roundabout on the A44 to the west of Worcester, which is also the western end of the city's bypass, the A4440. The road heads west along a modern link road (explaining the bridge we go under almost immediately) bypassing Rushwick. We soon rejoin the road's original route and, as expected, the road becomes narrower and more winding.
We bear left to cross the River Teme then zigzag into the village of Bransford. We bear left at a roundabout to bypass the village centre as we always have done. After passing the golf course a relatively straight section then leads to Leigh Sinton where we zigzag through the village. We continue southwestwards, with the Malverns visible over to the left, and soon cross the county boundary into Herefordshire. The road now appears more wooded for a few miles.
After crossing the Cradley Brook at Stifford's Bridge the road continues to Stony Cross where we meet the B4220 and multiplex with it up a steep hill. The road levels out again after the end of the multiplex and we continue west across undulating farmland. We climb to Fromes Hill then descend steeply on the far side of the village to cross the B4214 and the River Frome. We then cross the ridge to the next valley, where we cross the River Lodon and continue on to traffic lights where we meet the A417.
Continuing west, we pass to the south of the wooded Shucknall Hill and then pass through Withington, after which we go over the Worcester to Hereford railway line, which has taken a more southerly route via Great Malvern. A mile or so further on the A465 comes in from the right to begin a multiplex, with the A4103 number dominant. This crosses the River Lugg to reach a roundabout where the A465 regains its number and takes primary status from us as it bears left into Hereford city centre.
Now non-primary we continue westwards, skirting the northern edge of the city. We go over the Shrewsbury to Hereford railway line at a narrow bridge controlled by traffic lights, then continue on through an industrial estate. The A49 is presently crossed at a roundabout, after which we continue along a residential road, with the racecourse, which is accessible from the A4103, behind the houses to the left.
After crossing the A4110 at traffic lights we reenter open country and continue on in the same direction across the fields. Presently we reach a roundabout on the A480 Stretton Sugwas bypass where the A4103 ends. Turn left to reach the A438.
The A4103 came into being by 1926 as an upgrade of the B4207; as the direct route between two county towns and cathedral cities it is strange the road did not have Class I status from the start. The road's original route started on the A48 (renumbered A449 in 1935) in the St John's area of Worcester and headed west, joining the current A4103 to the west of Rushwick and continuing on to end on the A465.
In the 1960s the road was extended west along a short section of A465 then the previously unclassified Roman Road to the north of Hereford, presumably acting as a bypass for the city. The extension initially ended on the A438 at Swainshill but the western end, which was always low-quality, was declassified following the construction of the Stretton Sugwas bypass and the road was cut back to the new line of the A480.
At the Worcester end, construction of the A4440 bypass severed the original line of the road. The section to the east of the bypass became the B4485 whilst the road through Rushwick was declassified as a new link road was built to reach the northern end of the bypass.