|From:||Barnsdale Bar (SE509136)|
|Length:||19.9 miles (32 km)|
|Meets:||A1, A6201, A628, A645, M62, A656, A6539, A655, A6032, A642, A654, M1, A61, A653|
|Old route now:||A656, A6539, B6481|
|Route outline (key)|
A link from the Great North Road to Leeds, the A639 has lost its importance with the growth of the motorway network.
Section 1: Barnsdale Bar - Castleford
We turn off the A1 at Barnsdale Bar, a few miles north west of Doncaster, where we also meet the A6201, and continue heading northwest on a non-primary NSL S2. This first part of the road is very straight and traces the line of the Roman Ridge Roman Road. After a couple of miles we arrive at a crossroads with the B6474 which we take at up to 40MPH. After that it's up to 50MPH, then down to 30MPH, back up to 40MPH again and finally, as we approach the outskirts of Pontefract, back down to 30MPH, just before we arrive at a junction where the A628 comes to an end. At this junction we will briefly pick up primary status, before we continue into town and meet a signal-controlled crossroads, where the A645 crosses our path and takes our primary status back to the Great North Road (now the A162).
We negotiate Pontefract on a short length of 30MPH D2 that climbs and then immediately drops down as we leave the town centre before approaching a roundabout, where if you fancy a day at the races you would turn left to park.
We pass under the motorway and immediately arrive at a signal-controlled junction. At this point, we used to head straight on, but the route of the A639 has now been moved onto newly built roundabout-infested roads around the south of the Freeport shopping village and Xscape Indoor Skiing and Leisure Centre. We pick up our original course shortly afterwards on a 30MPH S2 as we pass to the south of Castleford Town Centre.
Section 2: Castleford – Leeds
We enter a very short 40MPH zone as we pass through the area of Whitwood, but once we cross the A655 at a roundabout we are back into a 30. There's a slight decline now as we cross the River Calder and pass a very wrong road sign which gives the wrong road number and more than doubles the distance to Leeds from here.
There's a short stretch of NSL just prior to the village of Methley, which is a 40, and then back onto a straight section of NSL for a couple of miles heading towards Oulton, before we arrive at a roundabout with the A642. We need to turn right, onto a 40MPH D2 and then after a couple of hundred yards we encounter another roundabout, where the A642 leaves us on the right and continues north to the A1, and where the A654 comes to an end from the left.
We go straight on and uphill, continuing on our 40MPH D2 with a number of signal controlled junctions for about 2–3 miles before the road levels off and then begins to drop down slightly.
We meet the M1 at its J44, a dumbbell roundabout junction. We go straight on over the motorway and then take the first exit at the second roundabout. The original course of the A639 is signed at this roundabout ahead as the B6481, which is a 30MPH S2 that passes through the industrial estates of Stourton. At rush hour it is quite possible to see a queue the entire length of the B6481 as commuters try to fight their way into Leeds by any road possible. Anyway, I am digressing. The A639 continues briefly as D2 before arriving at a complex junction where the A61 arrives from Wakefield and also where the M621 (formerly M1) empties some of its traffic. Indeed the over-engineering of this junction is as a result of the then-M1 originally ending at this point and therefore needed to merge into the existing road system.
The A639 then seems to disappear at this point, as the road ahead is sign posted A61. However the routing changes of the A61 and A639 in Leeds over the past 40 years could fill an article in itself, but suffice to say that the road ahead is the historical path of the A61. However, the road ahead is now the A639 (the A61 multiplexes along the motorway instead), now a 40MPH S2. We pass the HQ of the First Direct bank on our right before encountering the traffic light junction where the B6481 ex-A639 ends - the point where the A639 used to end on the A61.
We bear to the left and continue towards the City Centre, entering a 30MPH zone and also now on a typical urban D2. We arrive at a large signalled junction where the A61 Hunslet Distributor brings us lots of traffic from the motorway. It briefly shares our route before leaving to the right.
We continue on the Hunslet Road, now more of an S4, through a couple more traffic-light junctions before we sort-of come to an end, where the A653 arrives and hits us head on. It's difficult to pinpoint a particular ending point for the A639, but it seems to be at the junction of Hunslet Road and Crown Point Road.
Original Author(s): Chris W