|Location Map ( geo)
|10.8 miles (17.4 km)
|A4540, A4040, A4092, A4030, A4252, A4031, A4034, A4033, A461, A4037, A4123, A459
|Old route now:
|B4135, A4092, B4125, A4030
|Route outline (key)
The A457 is an interesting 100% urban road. Although it's the arterial road between Birmingham and Dudley, since the A4123 Wolverhampton - Birmingham New Road was opened in 1927 the recommended route between Dudley and Birmingham has been via the A456 and A4123, hence the fact that the A457 is non-primary throughout.
Birmingham - Sedgley
The road starts on Birmingham's (Middle) Ring Road, the A4540, at a busy roundabout (although the road originally started on the A38 in the city centre). On one corner is the Victorian (and preserved) Spring Hill Library. Although it starts as dual, the road narrows to single-carriageway almost immediately. After another kilometre the road passes City Hospital, crosses the main line canal and railway and meets the B4135, before the junction with the former Outer Ring Road (A4040) in the attractively named district of Rotton Park. A bit like with Manchester, there isn't much of Birmingham west of the city centre, so the ring roads are squeezed in pretty close together.
A difference in roads policy can be seen once we cross the border into the former county borough of Smethwick. Here the local council ignored the existence of the A4123 and had itself a D2 bypass built to take the A457 away from the town centre. (The new road TOTSOs at a recently built roundabout near the former Cape Hill Brewery, the old road carrying on as the A4092.) The bypass doesn't do its job entirely properly though: because the top end of the High Street is hard by the railway and canals, and they didn't want the new road to cross them, the top end of the High Street was blighted with a dual carriageway. You'll see the library, shops, etc. on the left after about 2 km, between Rolfe Street and Galton Bridge stations. From the latter the dual carriageway continues for another 3 km; this is the original route upgraded, apart from a tight semicircle which goes south around Oldbury town centre.
A rundown of the main junctions on the 1970s D2 section:
- 1 km: roundabout (B4135/B4136)
- 2 km: lights (A4030 south to Bearwood/B4135 again)
- 3 km: roundabout (A4168 north to M5 J1)
- 4 km: roundabout (A4031 north to West Bromwich)
- 5 km: under M5 elevated section
- 6 km: roundabout (A4034 south to Blackheath, just after B4170 turn)
- 6.5 km: TOTSO roundabout (A4034 north to intercity rail station)
This is not a Roman road, but it does go almost straight for its last five miles, WNW through Tipton to Sedgley. The route is a mix of traditional industries and old and new homes built on so-called brownfield sites. Dudley traffic turns off onto the A4033 at a signal-controlled fork in Tividale. There are more lights in Dudley Port, where we cross the A461, and then we go into the centre of Tipton where we cross the B4517 and the A4037. Traffic is relatively light by this stage; Tipton is almost a secret town, bypassed as it is by our nemesis, the A4123, which we now finally meet, crossing it at lights. Up to the left is Wren's Nest Hill. Passing the B4483, our last 2 km are quite suburban before the route ends just inside Wolverhampton's sphere of influence (though still in the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley), in Sedgley on the A459. It actually has two branches in Sedgley, Tipton Road and Gate Street. The latter allows traffic heading north along the A459 to access the main A457 as no right turn is permitted at the Tipton Road junction.
Smethwick: Soho Way
The section from a roundabout on Crocketts Lane to Baldwin Street was reported by the 17 September 1972 Birmingham Weekly Mercury to be "completed within the next two months". Baldwin Street to Windmill Lane was reported as having opened in 1967, but waiting for slum clearance and additional funding delayed the second section. The dual carriageway was originally unclassified.
Smethwick: Tollhouse Way
This was Smethwick Relief Road Stage 1 from Oldbury Road / Telford Way to Soho Way. It was opened on 4 May 1983 by Ron Davis, Mayor of Sandwell. The Cavalcade was led by Bass's traditional brewery cart pulled by Shire horses Captain and Imperial, then cars from the Coventry Transport Museum and finally British Leyland's latest car - the Maestro. Cost was £3.5 million. Note that the Land Compensation notice stated an opening date of 28 January 1984 so there may have been further works.