|From:||Rode Heath (SJ809569)|
|Via:||Sandbach, Middlewich, Northwich|
|Distance:||30.3 miles (48.8 km)|
|Meets:||A50, A534, A54, A5018, A556, A5509, A559, A49, A56, A5126, A558, A557, A562|
|Old route now:||B5155|
|Route outline (key)|
The A533 runs diagonally across Cheshire from south-east to north-west. For most of its route it roughly parallels the Trent & Mersey Canal, giving an atypically industrial view of the county. It is primary north of Middlewich, non-primary south of there.
Section 1: Rode Heath – Middlewich
The road starts on the A50 just north of Kidsgrove, near the Staffordshire border. Some atlases have shown the short A5011 which "cuts the corner" between the A34 and A50, as an extension of the A533, but this has not happened on the ground, and according to the OS it's still the A5011.
Leaving the A50 at a left fork, it passes through the village of Rode Heath and then traverses pastoral countryside, crossing the M6 without a junction (although there are access roads to Sandbach services) before briefly multiplexing with the A534 to bypass the centre of Sandbach, famous for its Saxon crosses. A couple of miles further on, now in Elworth, the road crosses the Crewe to Manchester railway line by Sandbach station and soon reaches the Trent & Mersey Canal. The A533 runs alongside the canal, which is lined with industrial premises throughout this section, as far as Middlewich.
Section 2: Middlewich – Barnton
The A533 regains its number well on the way to Winsford. An easy-to-miss TOTSO (miss it and you'll use the original A533 through Bostock Green) leads to a modern section of route that bypasses the picturesque village of Davenham before reaching the A556 Northwich Bypass at a rather strange partial GSJ.
Passing under the A556, it crosses its old route at a signal-controlled crossroads and then bypasses the Northwich suburb of Leftwich, running through an area of modern up-market housing development to reach the busy centre of Northwich. It briefly multiplexes with the A559, crossing the Weaver Navigation by a swing bridge before turning right, climbing a steep hill and then running through an increasingly industrial landscape. This was once the hub of Cheshire's salt-based chemical industry, although much reduced now from its former importance.
At Barnton, the A533 crosses the Weaver Navigation again by a single-track, signal-controlled swing bridge which is a major bottleneck at rush hour. This part of the Weaver Valley is a particularly grim-looking industrial area with several unsightly chemical plants many of them now out-of-use. Until recently it was possible to see seagoing coasters berthed on the Weaver by the works here, but the traffic has now ceased. The famous Anderton Boat Lift linking the Weaver Navigation and the Trent and Mersey Canal is very near to here.
The road leaves the Weaver Valley for the last time by a steep hill, from where the entrance to the Barnton Tunnel on the Trent and Mersey Canal can be seen. It passes through the modern residential village of Barnton and then enjoys a mile-long straight before reaching the A49 at a signal-controlled crossroads.
Section 3: Barnton – Widnes
An undulating, rural stretch follows before passing through the small village of Dutton. Here it goes over the northern end of the Trent & Mersey Canal although that is in tunnel at this point; the Tunnel Top pub marks the spot. The road enters Runcorn New Town via the Whitehouse Industrial Estate. After a brief multiplex with the A56, it follows the Southern, Central and Bridgewater Expressways to end with a final flourish by crossing the magnificent Runcorn-Widnes steel arch bridge, opened in 1961. This bridge is like a copy, in miniature, of the Sydney Harbour bridge in Australia. The bridge can be seen in all its glory by diverting off the A533 on the north side, and parking at Spike Island near the Catalyst museum of the chemical industry, ("brown" signs direct you). The A533 finishes at the GSJ at the north end of the bridge where the A562 does a TOTSO. If you continue across the flyover you will find yourself on the A562 heading towards Liverpool.
A second bridge is to shortly commence construction across the Mersey just upstream of the older bridge, however which bridge the A533 will take has yet to be decided. Those wishing for even more adventure can find the site of the abutments for the old transporter bridge and its offices, by proceeding south down Mersey Road. This bridge often had to be closed in high winds, and locals who had crossed in the morning could find themselves unable to get back home later in the day, except by a lengthy detour via Liverpool or Warrington
The Rode Heath to Middlewich section was a trunk road for twelve years from 1946, part of the "Stoke-on-Trent - Middlewich - Delamere Trunk Road", the purpose of which was presumably to create (together with part of the Swansea-Manchester Trunk Road) a trunk route from Stoke to Chester. In 1958, in connection with the planning of the M6 and the route now known as A500, it was replaced by the "North of Newcastle-under-Lyme - Nantwich - Tarporley - Tarvin Trunk Road".
The bypass of Sandbach town centre dates from about 1987. The bypasses of Davenham and Leftwich and the bridge under the A556 date from about 1998.
Between the A56 and Runcorn the A533 has changed course twice in recent years. It originally followed a sinuous course through the hilltop village of Halton with its ruined castle which is a landmark for many miles around, and terminated on the south shore of the Mersey by the old Transporter Bridge. When the Runcorn-Widnes Bridge opened, it was diverted via the Runcorn Spur Road, a new-build, three-lane road which bypassed Halton and then drove through an already built-up area of Runcorn to terminate at the southern end of the bridge. This included what must have been one of the first non-motorway GSJs in the UK. In the 1970s the A533 was diverted once more along its current course along the Expressway network. The eastern half of the Spur Road was obliterated by the Halton Lea shopping centre (the former "Runcorn Shopping City") but the western half can still be seen, although reduced to a local access road and partly one-way only.
|Image||Name||Classified Road(s)||Grid Reference||More Info||Map|
|Road One Roundabout||A5018||SJ667680|| |
|Whitehouse Roundabout||A56||SJ557798|| |
|Lodge Lane Interchange||A5126||SJ529808|| |
|Halton Lea Junction||B5155||SJ531816|| |
|Halton Brow Junction||SJ531824|| |
|Bridgewater Interchange||A558||SJ532829|| |
|Silver Jubilee South Junction||A557, B5155||SJ508828|| |
|Ditton Roundabout||A562||SJ505850|| |