|Location Map ( geo)
|Leamington Spa (SP305603)
|39.8 miles (64.1 km)
|M40, A425, A445, A46, A429, A4177, A45, A446, M6, A47, A38, A5127, A453, A4041, A454, A461, A4124, A5
|Old route now:
|Route outline (key)
The A452 runs across the Midlands from Leamington Spa in Warwickshire to Brownhills in Staffordshire. It does not follow the geographically obvious route of going via Birmingham, but instead runs tangentially to the city, much of it follows the course of "Welsh Road", an old drovers' route.
Section 1: Leamington Spa - Kenilworth
Since the opening of the M40 the (primary) A452 has started at junctions 13 and 14 of that motorway. Junction 13 (Bishop's Tachbrook) has access for those travelling to/from the south; Junction 14 (Barford) for those travelling to/from the North. The junction 14 link was part of the original A41 Warwick bypass - they just whacked in a flyover to get to the Northbound M40 which was built over the A41 to Longbridge Island.
The road at junction 13 is the former A41 Banbury Road. I can remember driving across the half-built motorway at this point not long after I learned to drive in the early 1990s. The original starting point of the A452 was 500 yards south of Junction 13, where the ex-A452 (now the B4087) meets the ex-A41 (now B4100). The two M40 links meet at a funky roundabout where the Banbury Road heads off northwest to Warwick as the A425 (!) and the A452 "Europa Way" heads north to Leamington via another three roundabouts: (1) Gallows Hill; (2) Queensway; (3) Myton/A425 (!) The road now goes under two railway bridges and takes two 90-degree turns to continue north on Dale Street through Leamington Spa town centre, crossing the River Leam and the B4099 Warwick Street. At a roundabout the road turns northeast to duplex with the A445 for 325 yards (300 metres) before turning off North at a signalled crossroads (the southbound road is the B4087, i.e. the ex-A452).
It's now three miles and three roundabouts to Kenilworth: (1) Blackdown - B4113 to Coventry; (2) Chesford Bridge - Chesford Grange Hotel; (3) A46 (grade-separated). Between (2) and (3) the A452 crosses the River Avon and also the B4115. Once over the A46 we're into Kenilworth. The mile to the centre is interrupted halfway along by a roundabout junction with local roads (one of which is the ex-A46) which the railway passes underneath. The route through the centre and past the castle is the B4103 while the A452 turns off northeast through a mile-and-a-half of suburban streets, meeting the A429 (ex-A46) Coventry Road along the way. Kenilworth is unusual as the B-road is the obvious route through the town whilst the A-road is only for local traffic.
Section 2: Kenilworth - Brownhills
The A452 now heads northwest across country, reaching Balsall Common after four miles, shortly after the junction with the A4177.
In the village the B4101 is crossed at lights, and local roads at two islands. As the road leaves the village and crosses the Coventry to Birmingham railway line the road becomes dual carriageway, and it stays dualled more or less the whole way to Wylde Green. After two miles there's a roundabout junction with the B4102, close to Molands Bridge over the River Blythe. Another mile brings us to the well-known Stonebridge Interchange, where the A452 meets the A45 at a motorway-style junction. The road becomes trunk here - but only for about a mile.
The next junction, that with the A446, is the oddest on the route. It's a TOTSO: the main dual carriageway becomes the A446, so Northbound A452 traffic has to turn off to stay on the A452. Although this marks the original southern end of the A452, the GSJ was built when the roads had their current numbers; it seems that motorway access defined the shape of the junction. At a roundabout half-a-mile further on - which is built over the M42 but has no connection with it - there are northbound slips for the A446 as well as an exit onto the B4438 which serves the National Exhibition Centre and Birmingham International Airport. Just to the east of here is the Little Packington landfill site - one of the largest private rubbish dumps in Britain. We're now entering the roads jungle - the zone between Coleshill and the airport filled with the M6, M42, M6 Toll, A446 and A452 - all dual carriageways (except for the next kilometre-long section of the A452). The A452 is the Westernmost of the five, curling round the outermost suburbs of Birmingham alongside the M6. There are three roundabouts, the first for Marston Green, the second for Chelmsley Wood, the third for Coleshill (B4114 - former A47 - the A452 used to duplex with this road through Kingshurst - although the A452 had become the dominant number by the 1950s), then three miles of motoring heaven: the Collector Road.
My own love of this road was soured the time I saw and heard a car crash on the opposite carriageway.
Now, I said we were in Birmingham, but the section from Balsall Common is in fact in Solihull Metropolitan Borough. We finally enter Birmingham City Council's area at the Castle Bromwich island. Three of the exits here are A452 (the Southern one is a non-primary spur onto the ex-A47/A452 duplex) and the other is Eastbound M6 - this is J5. Believe it or not, this is the last of twelve different ways it's possible to turn off the A452 onto a road that goes to Coventry. The A452 now goes north, under the motorway, and becomes the Chester Road, a very busy North Birmingham thoroughfare which more or less forms the boundary between Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield. We soon meet three roundabouts: (1) Castle Vale/new A47 - next to the Jaguar works; (2) new(ish) A38; (3) B4148 to Walmley. Then it's a mile to Erdington, where there's a roundabout junction with Orphanage Road and a signalled crossroads with the A5127 (ex-A38). This is the point where the road reverts to single carriageway...
The road now becomes a slog. It passes under the Lichfield railway line (by the eponymous Chester Road station) and meets the Boldmere Road (B4142) at lights, and from here you can probably already see the queue ahead, on the stretch by Oscott College RC Seminary. The queue is caused by the horrendous double set of lights in New Oscott, at the junctions with the A453 and B4149. The second junction was a roundabout for a long time, but it was replaced by lights when Tesco was built. Also here are Homebase, and Curry's, and Boots, and Marks and Spencer, and new houses... What's the point of having town planners if they allow this nonsense? On Saturday morning or afternoon it can take half an hour to get through - you have been warned. At least once you are through the speed limit goes back up to 40mph for the couple of miles to the Moorcroft island. This is the junction with the A4041 Queslett Road to West Brom and the B4138 around Sutton Park. Unfortunately the island is the border with the Metropolitan Borough of Walsall, and they've decided to impose a 30 mph restriction for the wide, straight two miles through Streetly.
And then it's back out into the countryside, as the road bypasses Aldridge, crossing the A454 at what has recently become an island junction. More speed restrictions (50 mph) and safety measures along here - probably because of problems in the past with boy racers. After three miles we reach the Shire Oak crossroads where the road meets the A461 on its way between Walsall and Lichfield and we've reached our destination: Brownhills. The road goes northwest right through the (dare I say uninspiring) town centre, meeting the B5011 and B4155 as it does so, before arriving at the Brownhills Bridge junction with the A4124 towards Wolverhampton. It then crosses the Common before ending at a roundabout on the A5, not far from the location of Norton Canes services and the M6 Toll.
Original Author(s): Adrian Bailey
Europa Way, the Leamington Southern Relief Road, was opened in November 1987 per the Coventry Evening Telegraph of 22 January 1988.