A42 (Reading - Birmingham)
|Via:||Streatley, Oxford, Stratford|
|Distance:||90 miles (144.8 km)|
|Met (1932):||A4, A32, A340, A417, A415, A40, A34, A43, A44, A361, A429, A46, A422, A41|
|Now part of:||A329, A4074, A4144, A44, A3400, A34|
|Route outline (key)|
During 1934, the Ministry of Transport, in an attempt to rationalise some of the main routes, proposed to extend the A42 north to the A6 at Salford, and extend the A423 at both ends to run from Maidenhead to Chester via Coventry. After looking at the respective tonnage on these routes, they realised the A423 did not need to be extended north, but did conclude that more traffic went to Oxford via Newbury or Maidenhead and Henley than Reading, and reorganised numbering accordingly. Consequently, in the 1935 Road numbering revision the A42 was abolished; it was renumbered as an extension of the A329 to Shillingford, part of the A423 to Oxford, and the remainder as part of a much-extended A34 (which continued beyond Birmingham to Salford).
Road numbering never remains constant, however. Following construction of the M40 in the 1990s the old roads (mostly parts of the ex-A42) have been renumbered. The A34 still runs on the former A42 to the north of the M42. To the south of here the road is now the similar but out-of-zone A3400 as far as the A44 near Chipping Norton; this has taken over the road into Oxford.
The former A42 to the south of Oxford was also renumbered a few years later for the same reasons (despite the fact that the M42 had existed in the area for much longer). The section from Oxford to Shillingford (for many years the A423) was renumbered A4074. From here to Reading the road is still numbered A329.
In an early draft of the numbering scheme, the A42 was proposed to run south east from Stratford-upon-Avon along what's now the A422 towards Banbury. A map exists showing this route crossed out and the A42 running instead to Oxford via Chipping Norton.