|Distance:||60.7 miles (97.7 km)|
|Meets:||A61, M1, A6120, A642, B6137, A656, B1222, A1246, A1(M), A162, A1238, A19, A1041, B1230, B1228, A614, M62, B1230, A1034, B1231, A15, A1166, A1079, A1165, A1033|
|Former Number(s):||A1, A1033|
|Old route now:||B6159, A6120, A1238, B1230|
|Route outline (key)|
The A63 is the main road heading east of Leeds. It is still primary although the majority has been bypassed (and some even taken over completely) by the M62. The easternmost section is trunk, but the majority was detrunked following hte 1998 consultation A New Deal for Trunk Roads in England.
Section 1: Leeds – Selby
Until 2009, the A63 branched off the A64 at Killingbeck in east Leeds. Usually higher-numbered roads branch off lower-numbered roads, so this was a bit of an oddity. With the opening of the East Leeds Link Road, that little anomaly has been corrected: the A63 now begins in Hunslet, south-east Leeds, branching off the A61 at the north end of Crown Point Bridge.
The East Leeds Link Road strikes out east over the railway and curving through some former school playing fields to join the line of what used to be called Pontefract Lane. Previously this was a tatty access route to some run-down industrial premises and the disused Skelton Grange power station. It's now a dual carriageway punctuated with regular roundabouts, subject to a 40 mph limit and rush hour High Occupancy Vehicle lanes. This makes it sound rather depressing, but it's actually a good standard road and a more pleasant drive than most other approaches to Leeds. In any case, a new dual carriageway radial route that reaches the centre of Leeds should probably be considered nothing less than incredible in the current political climate.
The East Leeds Link Road terminates at the M1's junction 45, which remained built but unopened (with a minor road using the roundabout above) from completion of the motorway in 1999 until the ELLR was ready ten years later. The famous "ghost junction" is now a real junction. The signage doesn't indicate an onward route for A63 traffic, but we turn left here to join the M1 northbound, hopping along one junction and exiting at number 46, signposted for Selby. A right turn at this junction returns us to the original line of the A63. This roundabout also forms the eastern terminus of the A6120 Outer Ring Road, which has taken over a short section of ex-A63 (the remainder now being the B6159).
We set out from the M1 as a dual carriageway, once called the "golden mile" by speed-hungry locals but now subject to a 50 mph limit. At Garforth the dual carriageway ends, and after crossing the A642 at a roundabout, a broad single-carriageway carries us along the southern fringe of the town at 40 mph. In the days when the A63 was a trunk route, and the main access to Leeds from the A1, there were plans for a Garforth Bypass, but these are now long gone as the area's various motorways are able to do the job. Having said that, this road is still primary and the only link between the M1 and A1(M) between the M62 some distance to the south and Hook Moor Interchange where they meet – but northbound traffic must continue on the northbound A1(M).
After crossing the A656 at another roundabout, we hit the former A1 at the Boot and Shoe Inn and turn right to join another dual carriageway. This is the former A1, complete with a grade-separated junction with the B1222 halfway along, while the new motorway runs a little way to the east. When this was the A1 we entered and left the multiplex at grade-separated junctions ourselves - but the junctions have been demolished and at-grade roundabouts built. A right turn at the Selby Fork sees us exit the old A1, with the A1246 continuing straight ahead. A burst of dual carriageway takes us to the dumbbell interchange at A1(M) junction 42, and then we're on the open road – once the Leeds to Hull turnpike.
Another roundabout soon arrives where we cross the A162, and on to the intriguingly named Monk Fryston. Beyond the narrow and twisty lanes of the village we re-emerge onto the Vale of York and some amazingly level land – the road here is vary narrow and very straight, enticing many drivers to travel at alarmingly high speeds on this claustrophobic road.
At Hambleton we pass through the village in an orderly manner, and then after the railway bridge a large, new roundabout marks the beginning of the Selby bypass. Locals here had been campaigning since the 1930s to get the market town off the main road, their case strengthened by the single bridge over the Ouse which was in private hands and tolled until the late 1990s. The bypass didn't arrive until 2005, however, and until then the A19 and A63 had to share the narrow streets and the bridge in order to pass through.
The bypass provides relief from all this - a broad single-carriageway, well laid out and provided with such extravagances as frequent lay-bys and plenty of lighting. It meets the A19 and A1041 at roundabouts. The former still follows its old route through the town centre and so we meet it again at a roundabout marking the other end of the bypass. That road then takes priority in a short multiplex, even though we've seemed the more important road in Selby (the A19 must be pulling rank or something). The A63 – until 2005 a trunk route – turns right at the end of the multiplex at a basic T-junction at which westbound A63 traffic has to wait at a Give Way sign to proceed.
Section 2: Selby – Hull
From here, the road is somewhat quieter, passing Osgodby to the south and then opening out: a fast, rural trunk route of the old school. It pauses here and there to wind through a number of small villages before reaching a point about a mile west of the small market town of Howden. Here the A63 turns south from its original route through the town centre and traffic heading for Hull – the route's ultimate destination – is deflected along what was formerly a part of the B1228 to Boothferry, where a sharp left turn then leads it, via a section of the A614, to junction 37 of the M62.
Thus begins a nearly 10-mile gap in the A63. The road's original route through and east of Howden (as far as junction 38 of the M62) is now the B1230, though it still bears the hallmarks of a main route, with a couple of stretches of dual carriageway where it passes through the villages of Gilberdyke and Newport.
The A63 itself re-emerges where the B1230 meets the M62 at the eastern end of the motorway (junction 38) near North Cave. From here, it is dual carriageway all the way into Hull (though it's often been suggested that the M62 should have been continued from its rather arbitrary eastern terminus to complete the journey in to the city). We continue east, past the village of Brough and through a new flyover junction at Melton where, until 2006, everything stopped for a notorious set of traffic lights.
Once past the village of Ferriby, the Humber Bridge comes into view, and the A63 diverts off its old route. It may have been mired in controversy and poor financial planning, but the bridge does indeed look spectacular, especially from the viewpoint of the A63 Clive Sullivan Way as it passes underneath the northern end. This dual carriageway was built in the mid 1980s and named in remembrance of the Hull Rugby player. The old route of the A63 used to take traffic on what is now the A1105, north of Hessle, which remains a dual carriageway and looks every bit the trunk route it once was.
Clive Sullivan Way hugs the Humber, brushing past docks and various retail outlets, before meeting the A1079 at a traffic-lighted roundabout; often the cause of a morning queue. This part of the road is still a trunk route and Highways England still has plans to provide it with some sort of flyover or underpass in the future.
Still dual, despite passing so close to the city centre, we now skirt the southern end of the city before crossing over the River Hull. Finally we reach the end of the line at the junction with the A1033, the Hedon Road leading to the North Sea ferries.
Much of the road from Leeds started life as the Leeds to Selby Turnpike, a broad new road that manages to avoid many towns and villages along the way and which, as a result, forms a high standard road even today. The section eastwards out of Leeds breaks away from the old Selby Road at Halton, and runs from Austhorpe to Garforth on what is now the unpaved track called Barrowby Lane.
East Leeds Link Road
Leeds City Council (and its predecessors, the Leeds City Corporation and the West Riding County Council) had held plans since the 1930s for a new alignment for the A63 approaching the city from the east. These plans were finally realised in 2009 with the opening of the East Leeds Link Road, but this follows a radically different alignment from one that had been protected for most of the previous 70 years. The new route mostly follows Pontefract Lane and was an upgrade to an existing lane through brownfield areas, whereas the intended route went further to the north, skirting the southern fringe of suburban development at Halton on what is now Halton Moor Road.
The ex-A63 dual carriageway up Halton Hill continues up an unclassified road to this day, while the main road branches off at the top of the hill. This was intended to continue a short distance up Temple Newsam Road to meet the realigned A63, which would have run along the line of Broadway. Eastwards from there a protected line (now partially developed into suburban housing) is visible running between Field End Garth and Temple Grove; through a sliced-off corner of school playing fields; along the north side of Templegate Walk; across open land and through a small development called Manor Close; then through a very obvious corridor of open land between housing estates to arrive at a conveniently empty point on the A6120 Outer Ring Road, previously the point where the latter met the A63 out of Leeds.
This line appears to have lost protected status during the 1990s when the current ELLR route was first proposed, and has now been partially built on. It looks extremely unlikely that any road proposal will now be developed along this line.
- Highways England: A63 Castle Street improvements consultation summary - 2017 (hosted on archive.org)
- The A63 Liverpool-Leeds-Hull Trunk Road (North & West Yorkshire) (Revocation and Detrunking) Order 2009