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A4150

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A4150
Location Map ( geo)
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Wolverhampton Inner Ring Road
From:  Wolverhampton (SO915990)
To:  Wolverhampton (SO915990)
Distance:  2.1 miles (3.4 km)
Meets:  A41, A449, A454, A4123, A4124
Primary Destinations
Highway Authorities

Wolverhampton

Traditional Counties

Staffordshire

Route outline (key)
A4150 Wolverhampton Inner Ring Road
This article is about the Wolverhampton Inner Ring Road.
For the original A4150 in Gloucester, see A4150 (Gloucester)
.

The A4150 (also known as the Wolverhampton Inner Ring Road) forms a loop of the city centre of just over two miles, meeting the vast majority of the radial routes heading into the city centre.

It is entirely dual carriageway throughout its length, and the individual sections (except one) are named after nearby churches. The number A4150 does not appear on any signs throughout its length, and indeed is only used at the nearby roundabout junction between Waterloo Road and Jack Hayward Way, to the northwest of Molineux stadium.

The route was opened with a 40mph limit throughout, but currently has a 30mph limit as part of COVID-19 Active Travel measures to encourage cycling.

Route

Given the circular nature of the road, it does not have a discernible "start" or "end" point, and any description is therefore entirely arbitrary. Starting, therefore, with the most northerly junction and moving clockwise leads us to Stafford Street Junction with the A449, and a starting point of Ring Road St. Patrick's.

St. Patrick's

The St. Patrick's section of the Inner Ring Road was completed in the early 1970s, and is the section between the A449 at Stafford Street Junction, and the A4124 at Broad Street Junction. Clockwise, it is three lanes wide, with the left-hand lane being marked as an exit lane for the A4124. Anti-clockwise, it has two lanes at Broad Street Junction, widening to four lanes at Stafford Street Junction, with two lanes being marked as right turn to the A449, which leads to the M6, M54 and A460.

St. Patrick's includes two minor junctions, one accessible only in a clockwise direction to Little's Lane and the surrounding streets. This minor junction is relatively quiet, as there are only a few residential and commercial properties in the area - the most notable being a builder's merchants using the site of the former Herbert Street Goods Station of the Great Western Railway. There is also access to a long stay car park (using the site of the former coach station) on Faulkland Street. The second minor junction was only open for a short time in the 2010s and was accessible only in an anti-clockwise direction, and lead only to a bus overflow parking designed for use when the nearby bus station was full.

The section is named after St. Patrick's church, which was demolished as part of the clearance of the area (known as Caribbee Island). This area of the city was associated with (as might be expected) Irish immigrants that settled in the area in the 19th century.

St. David's

Ring Road St. David's was the final section to be completed in 1986, and is the section between Broad Street Junction (A4124) and Bilston Street Island (with the A41 and A454). With the exception of the approach to the junctions, the road is entirely two-lane dual carriageway.

St. David's is the odd one out of the sections of A4150: it is named after the patron saint of Wales rather than any local church; this is due to the city council noticing that the patron saints of England, Scotland and Ireland all had sections named after them. The originally planned name was St. James's, whose namesake church (and associated square) was on the site of the St. David's section.

There is one junction on this section at Horseley Fields with the A454. This simple fork junction gives access solely for clockwise traffic to head east along the A454. All other movements are provided for at Bilston Street Island.

During construction of the temporary bus station just to the west of the section in 1980, a start was made on the road. However, this roadway was never brought into use and was removed in order for the present sunken route to be constructed. During 2011, there was major reconstruction of the section to add access to and from the redeveloped bus station which included a total realignment of the anticlockwise carriageway into the reserved space for the unbuilt main carriageway. The section now features three carriageways, with an extra clockwise carriageway reserved for buses heading for the bus station to the west of the anticlockwise carriageway.

St. George's

Ring Road St. George's

St. George's runs from Bilston Street Island with the A41 and A454 round to Snow Hill Junction with the A4123 and A459. The anticlockwise carriageway is two lanes wide, whilst the clockwise carriageway is a mix of two and three lanes wide. There are no minor junctions on the section, but it is probably the section where the old street patterns are most obvious: the line of Cleveland Road across the pedestrian crossing being a former major road, whose line is obvious even across the former Sainsbury's car park to the west of the road; and the line of Powlett Street, which is also a car park to the west of the Inner Ring Road and leads directly to the eastern door of St. John's Church.

It was completed in two sections in the early 1980s: first from the A4123 to the former line of the A41 at Cleveland Street, where the road terminated at a light-controlled T-junction, and finally to Bilston Street Island a couple of years later.

The section is named after St. George's church, which despite being incorporated within a supermarket in the late 1980s after falling into disuse in the late 1960s, dominates the area to the west of the section.

St. John's

St. John's section, from Penn Road Island

The St. John's section starts at the Snow Hill Junction, and moves around to Penn Road Island with the A449 to the southwest. The carriageways are almost entirely two lanes wide, but care needs to be taken as to the lane selection: for clockwise traffic the left-hand lane does not enter the roundabout at Penn Road Island, but runs straight onto the A449, whilst for anti-clockwise traffic, the right hand lane becomes a dedicated turn lane into A4123.

This is the oldest section of the Inner Ring Road, being completed in 1961, and is named after St. John's church which lies immediately to the north of the section - of which the anticlockwise carriageway is constructed on the site of the buildings along the south side of St. John's Square. St. John's church is the second largest church in the city centre, and contains a famous Renatus Harris organ, whilst St. John's Square is the home of MENSA.

There is one minor junction along the clockwise carriageway, being access to St. John's Retail Park and the industrial area immediately to the south - which includes the former Sunbeam factory, producer of the first British car to win a Grand Prix, and the first car to hold the Land Speed Record at over 200 mph.

The section is also famous for being the former home of the "Ring Road Tramp", "Fred" who lived in a tent in the central reservation for many years.

St. Mark's

St. Mark's section, anticlockwise carriageway showing car park in central reservation

St. Mark's runs from Penn Road Island with the A449 to Chapel Ash Island with the A41, and is two lanes in each direction.

The central reservation is unusual in this section, as it is used as a car park, which is accessible via a ramp that passes underneath the anti-clockwise carriageway. This means that it looks quite different from all the other "green" sections, and is probably the least pleasant section to drive along because of it.

There are several minor junctions in this section: clockwise there is an access and exit from Great Brickkiln Street, which serves the suburbs immediately to the west of the Inner Ring Road and gives access to the Sainsbury's supermarket built to replace the St George's store, whilst anti-clockwise has two; one being exit only to Salop Street for access to car parks and the city centre, and the other is an entrance from the car parks opposite Great Brickkiln Street.

St. Mark's church is to the west of the section in the Chapel Ash area of the city, and closed in the 1990s. It is now in use as an office building.

Initially, the section opened as far as Salop Street, where it terminated at a light-controlled T-junction before the short extension to Chapel Ash Island opened at the same time as the next, St. Andrew's, section.


St. Andrew's

Ring Road St. Andrew's from Birch Street entrance

Ring Road St. Andrew's was the third section to be constructed, running from Chapel Ash Island with the A41 (and originally the A454) around the north-western corner of the ring to Waterloo Road Junction, with the unclassified (yes, you've guessed it) Waterloo Road - which at one time carried the number A449. Waterloo Road Junction is the only major junction on the A4150 with an unclassified road.

The majority of the section is two lanes wide, widening to three (and then four, and then five!) as it approaches Waterloo Road on the clockwise carriageway. The central reservation here includes a pedestrian pathway along its length (as well as trees, bushes and the odd bench if you get tired).

There are two minor junctions, one on each carriageway. The clockwise carriageway has a simple entry and exit to the Class III road U112 Bath Road, which is heavily used for traffic heading clockwise along the A4150 from Chapel Ash and western suburbs; whilst the anti-clockwise carriageway has an entry only from Birch Street.

The anti-clockwise carriageway features a large dip, turn and rise - seemingly just to liven things up a little. This is actually due to originally planned but unbuilt items: a right-hand exit into Bath Road, which would have needed to pass under the elevated through carriageway. Indeed, the temporary kerbing for the right turn is still intact some 50 years after construction.

St. Andrew's Church is located to the north of the section. This section passes Marston's Brewery, and the Wolverhampton Central Baths.

St. Peter's

St. Peter's section completes the loop, from Waterloo Road Junction to Stafford Street Junction and the A449. This section is three lanes wide on the clockwise carriageway, widening to five on the approach to Stafford Street Junction, whilst the anti-clockwise carriageway is two lanes wide, widening to four at Waterloo Road Junction.

There are no minor junctions on this section, although there is a pedestrian underpass along the line of North Street, which was originally planned to be retained as a roadway. This has now been joined by a Puffin crossing across the roadway itself.

St. Peter's church is the oldest and largest church in the city centre, being located on the highest point just to the south of this section. Other landmarks on this section include buildings of the University of Wolverhampton (including the hideously ugly Arts Building on the northwest corner of Stafford Street Junction), the Molineux Hotel which houses the City Archives, Molineux Stadium, and Giffard House.

History

The design of the Inner Ring Road included grade-separated junctions, with this being the final intended layout from 1964
The 1944 proposed route
The 1944 proposal traced over a modern map
The 1948 proposed route and regeneration of city centre
The 1948 proposal was closer to the modern route
Planning documentation of St. Andrew's section

Wolverhampton of the Future, 1944

An Inner Ring Road around Wolverhampton city centre was mooted during World War II within the city's plans for post-war regeneration (Wolverhampton of the Future, 1944). In the event, the city survived the war almost entirely intact, and so the road was considered to be a low priority.

The 1944 plan would have seen a tighter loop around the city centre, using existing roads for all except the eastern section, although these roads would have all been dualled with two 22 ft carriageways and an 8 ft "layby", much like a modern hard shoulder, with all junctions being flat roundabouts. The route would have taken in Cleveland Street, Salop Street, School Street, Waterloo Road, Bath Road (now replaced by the northern section of the Inner Ring Road), and the eastern section from Stafford Street looping around to Snow Hill, which would have included the demolition of the Central Library, which would have been moved to the present site of the Civic Centre.

The West Midlands Plan, 1948

By the time of the publication of Abercrombie's West Midlands Plan (which looked at the entire counties of Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire) in 1948, it was already recognised that the 1944 ring had been drawn too tightly around the central area, and would separate the shopping areas along the south side of Cleveland Street and the west side of School Street from the remainder of the central area. Therefore the proposal contained within was for a slightly larger ring, with the eastern and northern sides differing from the 1944 proposal only in detail, but the southern side pushed out to Temple Street, and the western side moved to a line based upon Art Street and Lynton Street - the latter being pretty much the line of the western side of the Inner Ring Road as we know it today.

Development Plan, 1952

However, it was quickly recognised that this proposal was not ideal, and an adjusted route was proposed within 1952's County Borough Development Plan. Within this plan, the route along Temple Street was deemed to involve a number of "substantial and valuable properties", which made the cost problematical, especially when it was recognised that the southern section was one of the highest priority sections. It was also understood that the Temple Street route would involve the creation of two very close junctions on the IRR with Snow Hill and Cleveland Street (now St. George's Parade), along with the already extant junction of Snow Hill and Cleveland Street. It was therefore recommended that a new line south of St. John's Square was advantageous as it passed through only properties that were recognised as mostly in old and poor condition, with the exception of several listed buildings on the south side of the square itself, although it was deemed that these properties were not of good architectural examples of their type.

On the east side, the use of the already busy and complex Victoria Square and Five Ways area for the Inner Ring Road had fallen out of favour; as had attempts to route the IRR via the narrow Fryer Street. Instead, the IRR was proposed to be constructed underneath Railway Drive "at a point about halfway between Victoria Square and the High Level Station", which would both relieve Victoria Square of through traffic, but would also allow the construction of a bus station between the Inner Ring Road and Victoria Square.

With these two major changes to the route on top of the 1948 changes, a route very similar to that eventually constructed came into being; although detail changes would continue to be made throughout the 1950s with the addition of grade-separation at all junctions, and the additional grade-separated route from the Broad Street junction out to Elephant and Castle.

Construction and eventual changes

Within the 1952 Development Plan, two route sections were identified as being of the highest priority, matching both the criteria of the condition of properties and traffic movement: Stafford Street - Broad Street and Snow Hill - Penn Road. Snow Hill - Penn Road (the St. John's section, A459 and A4123 to A449) was programmed in as the initial section to be constructed with work starting in 1960.

However, work then generally progressed in a clockwise direction finishing with the St. David's section between the A4124 and A454 in 1986. The originally planned second highest priority of Stafford Street - Broad Street (St. Patrick's section, A449 - A4124) was pushed down the priority order with instead Westbury Street and Thornley Street being repurposed as a temporary "dual carriageway" layout so that the St. Patrick's section could be pushed back.

Construction suffered from cost overruns, and a seeming inability to attract central government funding for the project, meaning that the planned grade-separation has never been constructed, despite the space being set aside even in the 1980s. This compares with the very similar Coventry Inner Ring Road, which was planned and constructed at the same time, in a fairly nearby similar-sized city. The space for the grade-separation is mostly used as green space, although the St. Andrew's section has gardens and benches within it, and the St. Mark's section uses the space for car parking. Effectively, therefore, none of the through carriageways (with the exception of the 2011 work in the St. David's section) have actually been constructed, and the existing road is simply the collector-distributor lanes running between the junctions.

Opening Dates

Year Section Notes
1961 St. John's
1963 St. Mark's Penn Road - Salop Street
c.1968 St. Andrew's Salop Street - Waterloo Road
c.1970 St. Peter's
1976 St. Patrick's
c.1980 St. George's I Snow Hill - Cleveland Road
c.1985 St. George's II Cleveland Road - Bilston Street
1986 St. David's

Pictures

Links

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