|Distance:||13.7 miles (22 km)|
|Meets:||A54, A5272, A5271, A50, A500, B5370, B5369, A52, A53, A34, B5043|
|Old route now:||A5271, B5370, B5368|
|Route outline (key)|
The A527 is not a road that Congletonians get too excited about - it's the road to Biddulph. And yet Staffordshire's planners have been paying a lot of a attention to this non-primary road in recent years, building not one but two bypasses along its modest length. This is partly because the county has been allowing Biddulph to grow like billy-o; I think it's now bigger than Leek. (Is it the largest town in England with only one classified road?)
For some reason the section west of the A50 has always been primary and this situation remains even though the route has changed in recent years. The fact the A527 passes through the north of Stoke-on-Trent seems to be sufficient to give the road primary status.
Section 1: Congleton – Brindley Ford
The road begins as one of Congleton's widest, leafiest thoroughfares, Park Lane (built around 1800) which goes uphill from traffic lights at Lawton Street (former A54) to the railway station. When the A54 Mountbatten Way inner relief road was built in the 1970s the junction moved to a roundabout a little bit to the north, lengthening the A527 by about 50 yards. In Hightown the road crosses the Stoke to Manchester railway and the Macclesfield canal at almost exactly the same spot. There was a level crossing here until about the 1970s.
Around a right-hand bend we come to traffic lights at Mossley crossroads. Turning left will take you through Dane-in-Shaw valley to the Bridestones, an ancient burial site; a right turn will take you to the lovely village of Astbury. Though unclassified, this road was once part of an important trade route between Chester and Derby called the Earlsway. Later it served as the main road between Congleton and Leek, but when it came to doling out the numbers the Ministry decided it was unsuitable for classification.
We pass under a disused railway bridge which marks the border between Staffordshire and Cheshire at a gap in Congleton Edge. After about a mile we reach Biddulph. On the left are Biddulph Grange Gardens, built, designed and lived in by James Bateman, trivia time, which the National Trust took control of and restored from the late 1980s onwards. A kilometre into town we reach the bypass, opened in 2003. It starts at a roundabout, with Thames Drive and the leisure centre on the left, the old road straight on, the new road to the right. Since it's only about a mile long, only bypasses the centre and has a 30 limit for much of its length, it's more of a relief road, really. Nothing of any great entertainment is to be had: it passes a newly built orange-coloured Supermarket before heading up to the Meadows; this section is the best place on the route to get a glimpse of Mow Cop Castle (Folly), which is the birthplace of the Methodist movement. The road then climbs the meadows before rejoining the old route at a pair of roundabouts just before Knypersley Crossroads at Knypersley church and Knypersley First School. A mile and a half due south we come to the Stoke City boundary, and already the scenery is redolent of the mining history of the area.
Section 2: Brindley Ford – Newcastle-under-Lyme
Just as we go through the hamlet of Brindley Ford, we pass under the overhead power lines and there's a milestone: "Macclesfield 14, Newcastle 6". The ill-fated Chatterley-Whitfield mining museum was here on the left, accessed by a new roundabout. The road goes through the suburbs of Oxford, Fegg Hayes, Great Chell (A5272 junction) and Pitts Hill. Originally it ran by Victoria Park into the centre of Tunstall, along The Boulevard and onto the High Street at the town hall. It then continued down Brownhills Road and through Porthill and Wolstanton. However, with the building of the Tunstall bypass, the A527 was rerouted.
The first section of the Tunstall bypass was the dual-carriageway section, which opened with the number A527, although it had no connection to any other part of the road. Later it was extended west to meet the A500 and the old A527 between the A50 and the A500 was renumbered A5271 (or perhaps B5999). This meant that the A527 had to multiplex with the A500 for a short distance. A few years later, the bypass was extended east from the A50 almost as far as the A5272 and another section of A527 had the extra 1 added to its number. In 2007, Porthill and Wolstanton was bypassed by rebuilding the old colliery access road leading downhill from the southern edge of town to the A500 and the A527 was rerouted along this, lengthening the multiplex. The old road was renumbered by extending two local B-roads, although many maps (but not the road signs) still claim it to be part of the A527.
Heading towards Newcastle along the A527, we leave the A500 at the Wolstanton junction before climbing a steep hill and turning left at a set of traffic lights to regain the original route. We pass through May Bank and arrive in Newcastle at the Nelson Place roundabout with the A52 and A53. The last part of our road is the Barracks Road section of the ring road, ending at the A34/B5043 roundabout at the end of High Street.
History of the A527's alignment through Tunstall:
19th century and the draft 1922 route for the A527: Pitts Hill (St Michael's Road) - Furlong Road - High Street (N/S) - Brownhills Road
Most of 20th century: St Michael's Road - Victoria Park Road - The Boulevard (renamed from Station Road in the 1960s) - High Street (S) - Brownhills Road
Bypassing the High Street: St Michael's Road - Victoria Park Road - The Boulevard - Scotia Road (multiplex with A50) - Williamson Street - Brownhills Road
Now: Pitts Hill - James Brindley Way - Reginald Mitchell Way