|To:||Battlefield, Shrewsbury (SJ516167)|
|Distance:||55.1 miles (88.7 km)|
|Meets:||A6, A515, A5004, B5059, A54, A523, A520, B5051, A5009, A5272, B5050, A50, A5010, B5046, A500, B5369, A52, A527, A34, A519, A5182, A51, B5026, B5415, A529, A41, A442, B5063, A49, A5112, A5124|
|Old route now:||A525, B5352, A5112, A5191|
|Route outline (key)|
The A53 runs from Buxton to Shrewsbury via Stoke-on-Trent. It consists of two sections of excellent rural single-carriageway road at either end, with a great contrast in scenery, sandwiching a dreary, congested, urban stretch running through the Potteries.
Buxton – Newcastle
It starts on the A6 in Buxton, already over 900 feet above sea level although at one of the lowest points in the town. It runs through the town centre, with a TOTSO at the junction with the A5004, which harks back to the days when the A53 branched off the A6 at this point. Climbing steadily, it runs out into open countryside. The A54 to Congleton and Chester forks off on the right. From here as far as Leek, the A53 follows an old Roman road. Continuing to climb, it runs along the side of the limestone ridge of Axe Edge, eventually reaching a height of over 1500 feet above sea level. It then crosses a bleak plateau in one of the highest parts of the Peak District. This stretch is often blocked by snow in the winter. In 2008 the speed limit was reduced from NSL to 50 mph along this stretch, while he speed limit rises again when the Staffordshire border is crossed.
As it begins to descend again, it passes the spectacular outcrop of Ramshaw Rocks on the right. The area around here was once home to a colony of wallabies which escaped from a private collection in the 1930s and continued to breed for over fifty years, although now believed to be extinct. The A53 passes through some less harsh, more pastoral scenery and enters Leek, a busy market town which is one of the largest towns in Britain without a rail service. The town centre, which lacks any kind of bypass, is frequently congested as the A523 Manchester–Derby trunk road also passes through Leek. Indeed, the A523 is the dominant partner in a short multiplex.
The section from Leek to Stoke-on-Trent passes through several straggling villages such as Longsdon, Endon and Stockton Brook which straddles the city limits. The speed limit is mostly 30 with a large number of speed cameras. At Sneyd Green, the A5272 (formerly B5049) passes overhead on the Holden Bridge (built 1930 and replacing an earlier bridge), with ramps linking it to the A53. Passing through a very run-down part of the Potteries, it skirts Hanley, the "centre" of Stoke-on-Trent, to the north, over a GSJ with the A5010 and approaches the A500 "D-road" via half a mile of high-quality dual carriageway which originally had a 50 mph limit but was reduced at a stroke to 30 a couple of years ago. It was later put back up to 40, albeit with several Gatsos. There's a grade-separated junction with the A500, which has an underpass beneath the roundabout.
The A53 then climbs over a small ridge to reach the town centre of Newcastle-under-Lyme. Before reaching the ring road, there is a short one-way system. Outbound traffic (i.e. towards Leek) follows the A53 whereas inbound traffic is routed onto the A52. The A53 multiplexes with the A527 and A34 for a short distance around the ring road, although until the 1980s when it was pedestrianised the A53 went along the Ironmarket.
Newcastle – Shrewsbury
The original route of the A53 out of Newcastle was across Pool Dam and Seabridge Road until the current route was built in the late 1920s (with the old road becoming the A525 and B5352). The road now climbs out of the town centre through a cutting and emerges into the countryside for the first real time since before Leek just before crossing the M6. It does not have a junction with it; the A5182, which joins it from the east at a new roundabout, links it to junction 15 (Hanchurch) and is the more obvious route for through traffic, avoiding Newcastle.
The section on to Shrewsbury runs first through hilly, wooded country on the Staffordshire/Shropshire border, and then through the lush dairy country of North Shropshire. This section now has several tedious 30 limits through Baldwins Gate and Loggerheads. The attractive market town of Market Drayton, with many half-timbered buildings, is now bypassed, as is Hodnet, but it still passes through the village of Shawbury. The A53 seems to run counter to the grain of the landscape, crossing various other traffic routes: the A51 at Blackbrook (which it crosses at an unusually long uncontrolled staggered junction where the Swan with two Necks pub sits); the A529 just north of Market Drayton; the A41 at Ternhill; the A442 on the Hodnet bypas;, and the main West Coast rail line at Baldwins Gate. The pub at Baldwins Gate, the Sheet Anchor, once backed on to one of Davenports' Beer at Home distribution depots (anyone remember those TV ads from the early 70s?)
The A53 comes to an end where it joins the A49 at Battlefield Roundabout, about three miles north of Shrewsbury. The A49 Shrewsbury Bypass – a very wide and straight single-carriageway road – heads off to the left, with the A5112 continuing straight on into the town centre. This road was the A49 until the bypass was built – but until the 1940s it was the A53 itself; our road's original western end was on the A49 by the station.