|Location Map ( geo)|
|Distance:||5.5 miles (8.9 km)|
|Meets:||A6, A34, B6469, A57(M), A5067, B5219, A6010, A5145, M60, B5167, M56, A560|
|Former Number(s):||A5068, B5290|
|Route outline (key)|
The A5103 is a major thoroughfare running south from Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester city centre to the M56 in Northenden. The road is two-lane dual-carriageway with a few grade-separated junctions. It is used by many as a link to the airport and to the motorway network south.
Manchester - Northenden
The road starts at Piccadilly Gardens where it meets the A6. It heads along Portland Street (at one time it ran along the parallel Mosley Street) past fast-food outlets and off-licences and then meets the A34 Oxford Street. It multiplexes with that road north for 200 yards into St Peter's Square and then turns left into Lower Mosley Street, initially alongside the tramlines and then past the former Manchester Central station, now a conference centre with the same name. The road becomes Albion Street and goes over the Bridgewater Canal and under the railway line east of Deansgate station. The road then meets the A57(M) Mancunian Way at a roundabout interchange. This is where most of the traffic joins and leaves.
The road is now 2x2 dual carriageway with the name Princess Road. It passes under the Hulme Arch, a grade-separated junction (one of the few en route) with the A5067, with an unusually large central reservation. This is presumably because of the proposed plans from the 1960s of a motorway (see Links). However, after passing under the junction, there are innumerate sets of traffic lights, with the B5219, the A6010 and the A5145, as well as many other unsigned roads. There are also many speed cameras set at 30 mph.
The road picks up pace as we exit the sprawl of South Manchester and the road becomes Princess Parkway, with a 50 mph speed limit. We cross the River Mersey and almost immediately hit the M60 at J5. The junction is free-flowing and is a half-whirlpool interchange, with limited exits, with northbound traffic only allowed to head clockwise and southbound traffic anti-clockwise. The A5103 then meets the B5167 at Northenden at a diamond junction. Finally, the Princess Parkway ends and the M56 starts at a roundabout interchange with the A560 at J3A. This junction also allows people who haven't realised that the M56 TOTSOs and continues east to the M60 to rejoin. Motorway restrictions start, with the usual 70 mph speed limit.
Except for the Manchester City Centre section (which was numbered A5068, this road did not exist on classification in 1922. Princess Road was built in 1932 to serve the new southwestern suburbs; initially it ran between the B5219 and A560 and was numbered B5290, with the road later extended north into the A5068 on the southern edge of the city centre and renumbered A5103.
The northern extension through Hulme initially followed previously existing roads, so followed a zigzag route. As part of the road's upgrade (and the reconstruction of Hulme) in the 1970s the road was straightened and the original route can no longer be seen. The A5068 was severed around this time with the construction of the A57(M) and the A5103 took on its city-centre section, taking it to the A6.