|To:||Sutton Coldfield (SP116979)|
|Distance:||29 miles (46.7 km)|
|Meets:||A458, B4363, B4176, B4161, A41, A4150, B4464, B4484, A463, M6, A4148, A461, B4154, B4152, A452, A4026, B4138, B4151, A5127|
|Old route now:||B4363, B4464, B4590, A461,|
|Route outline (key)|
The A454 is a road of contrasts, from a pleasant countryside drive, to poor-quality inner-city single carriageway, to almost urban motorway standards. It is one of the major routes across southern Staffordshire and passes through both Wolverhampton city centre and Walsall town centre, as well as forming one of the accesses to the M6 from both settlements.
Bridgnorth - Wolverhampton
The A454 originally started on the A442 in Low Town, Bridgnorth. However, the first section of road is now numbered B4363 as the western end of the A454 has been moved away from the town, starting on the A458 to the east.
The road heads north and doglegs at a roundabout onto its original route. It heads in a generally easterly direction, passing near to several villages, and seemingly thousands of garden centres. It crosses the B4176 near to Wolverhampton Airport and heads into the city itself through the pleasant suburbs of Wightwick (passing the well-known Wightwick Manor) and Compton. At Compton, the road turns sharp right, and heads up the hill through tree-lined surroundings, past the educational establishments of Wolverhampton University (Compton campus) and Wolverhampton Grammar School (founded in 1512) until reaching the A41 at Chapel Ash. It multiplexes with this road for a short distance to meet the A4150 Inner Ring Road at Chapel Ash Island.
The original route ran up the hill of Darlington Street (the A41 had already turned off onto Salop Street), past Queen Square (the site of a statue of Prince Albert, the unveiling of which was the first public duty performed by Queen Victoria after her period of mourning), and via Lichfield Street on to Princes Square, site of the first automatic traffic lights in Britain. The route then passed under the modern bus station and jumps across the other side of the Inner Ring Road to the wonderfully named Horseley Fields, which survives today as a one-way spur to the modern route from the clockwise Ring Road.
Wolverhampton - Walsall
Anyhow, the modern route emerges from the Ring Road at Bilston Street Island, and continues in its general eastbound path, passing through areas of redevelopment towards Willenhall. Although the road is mostly four lanes wide at this point, it is generally insufficient for the traffic using this route heading for the M6, and so is best avoided at busy times. Fortunately, at Neachells (just before meeting the locally classified U99) the road becomes dual carriageway, and the roadway is also now (mostly) sufficient for the traffic. At Portobello, we meet the 1960s The Keyway, the first stage of the Willenhall bypass, and the route becomes grade-separated from this point. The original route, unsurprisingly, headed straight through Willenhall Town Centre via appalling roads (now the B4464), and we'll catch back up with the original route further along.
Fortunately, the Keyway was completed in the 1990s as far as Keyway Junction with the A463, at which point we get to take over the Black Country Route and head straight for M6 junction 10. This road was originally designed as the Bilston Link Motorway, and it has that general feel, although the queues backing up from the M6 junction may make us feel otherwise! As an aside, M6 J10 was the first junction to include traffic lights on the sliproads to help with the flow of traffic onto the M6. The only trouble is that the M6 flows like treacle at this point! At the junction, the original route re-emerges as the B4464.
Past the motorway, we now head on up the hill into Walsall, where poorly maintained roads are the norm. Once again, the route is eaten up by a Ring Road; this time it's Walsall's A4148. Finally, as the route arrives at Walsall Arboretum, the route leaves one multiplex, but joins another as the junior partner to the A461.
Walsall - Four Oaks
Finally, the route is allowed just to be itself again, as we head for the small town of Aldridge. The road here has been the subject of some traffic calming measures, as a blind bend and a humpbacked bridge do not help the accident statistics. We run into Aldridge (passing the wonderfully named "Bosty Lane" en route) and follow the relatively modern bypass to the west of the small town centre.
After Aldridge, the route gets more rural in nature, emerging at a double roundabout junction with the A452, and continuing into Little Aston. We pass Sutton Park to our right, and head straight for Sutton Coldfield. The route ends, however, before we get to the town centre at the A5127 (former A38), right next to Four Oaks railway station.