This page should help you learn a little more about SABRE - where it comes from, what it does and what plans it has.
What is SABRE?
SABRE is The Society for All British and Irish Road Enthusiasts. The Society exists for the discussion and education of roads in Britain and Ireland. Anyone with an interest in British or Irish roads is welcome to join and participate. The site is overseen by a management team which is elected every year.
SABRE originally stood for "Study and Appreciation of the British Roads Experience". The original SABRE website was started by Brad Jackson in 1999 as a way of encouraging discussion about and study of roads in the United Kingdom, and there was a major update in August 2001 when an MSN community was introduced to allow visitors to discuss roads issues.
Unfortunately, for health reasons, Brad hasn't been able to take part in the site since the end of 2001, although he does "pop in" occasionally. The name was changed to "The Society for All British Road Enthusiasts" in March 2002 (with Brad's approval) to reflect the diverse and inclusive nature of the community. In spring 2005, after much discussion, SABRE moved to its new home here at sabre-roads.org.uk, with members mucking in to set up the forums, photo gallery and website. In 2009, to reflect the growing number of Irish members and the frequent discussion of the Irish road network, the society's name was changed to "The Society for All British and Irish Road Enthusiasts"
Membership of SABRE is open to all who have an interest in the British and Irish road networks. SABRE now has over 5,000 members and this is growing at a very healthy rate! Members are often affectionately known as "Sabristi" - the singular is "Sabristo" (masculine) or "Sabrista" (feminine), so don't be surprised if you hear these terms bandied about occasionally! You can join us and dive into the discussion for free - just go over to the Forums and click the "Register" link in the blue menu.
Politics and Viewpoints
We are neither a pro-roads nor an anti-roads site. We have no formal links with motorists' organisations or the road construction industry; neither do we have associations with the environmental lobby or road protestors' groups. Rather, we are interested in the history, geography and structure of the British and Irish road networks. Individual members may of course have views on the politics of the network, and we debate the issues from time to time, but SABRE is not primarily intended as a platform for those with an axe to grind.
What does SABRE do?
Primarily, SABRE is interested in roads! There are, however, several facets to this. Below is the "SABRE Mission Statement" originally written by founder Brad Jackson.
1 To promote the study and appreciation of existing, obsolete, shelved, renumbered, declassified, defunct, projected, planned and fantastic roads.
2 To act as a forum for the exchange of ideas and opinions held by the individual. These could range from the shelving of 1960s motorway schemes to your favourite road to Bath.
3 To be the hub through which snippets of information can be exchanged. It is hoped that we can all increase our knowledge of this subject through the unfettered movement of info.
4 To generate a better understanding of the UK Road Network. It is in everyone's interest to know your geography.
5 To gain a good understanding of the history of our roads.
Today, we are pushing these ideas further than ever. When Brad wrote his "mission statement" over 20 years ago he imagined a way to build up our knowledge of UK roads, something that was difficult to find information about. We now have a huge knowledge base at our fingertips - almost all of it available to members and visitors alike through our website - and we are the UK's leading source of information about our roads, and we're working on getting there for Ireland! We are gradually seeing more and more interest from the press and broadcast media.
The main place for our discussions are the Forums here on the SABRE website. The multiple boards are to subdivide discussions into topics more closely related to each other. You can, however, view all the message boards at once if you like to see everything that is happening in a snapshot. Just click the "View all topics" link in the blue menu.
As well as discussion of roads, the forums also have sections for discussion of other modes of transport and issues relating to driving and traffic law, and a general chat section known as "Sabristi Unleashed!". This is the place to talk about anything that would be off-topic on the main roads forums (see the Mission Statement above for a guide).
A major SABRE project is the SABRE Wiki: The Roaders' Digest. This is a development of three of SABRE's original projects: the Roaders' Digest, Roads by 10 and The First 99.
As a result of these projects SABRE has a more complete directory of roads in the UK than the Government, a wide coverage of roads across Ireland, and a comprehensive archive of plans, road signs, traffic signals and street lighting. There's still lots to be done - which means there are plenty of opportunities for new society members to get involved and add their knowledge to the project.
SABRE's other major project is SABRE Maps, containing many historic maps of Britain and Ireland. This allows anyone to easily see what the road network was like in the past, that goes far beyond what Brad imagined when he created a small selection of map scans on the original site. As an example, it's the only place on the Internet where you can find a full set of the 1922-23 Ministry of Transport Road Maps, the original official set of maps showing those new-fangled road numbers within Great Britain, as well as different editions of the Northern Ireland equivalents.
Work continues on improving the accuracy and increasing the content of available maps; if you have old maps that you think would be useful for SABRE, we'd love to hear from you.
This is not the only side of SABRE though! We hold real world meet-ups - "Awaydays" - in various locations around the country where we chat about roads, maps and whatever else takes our fancy. These are advertised well in advance and you are most welcome to attend! We also hold "Roadtrips", which are exactly what they suggest, members going out and seeing interesting road features during a day. Again, these are advertised well in advance and all members are welcome to attend. Occasionally, we also have some behind-the-scenes visits to relevant and interesting places - we've visited such as Highways England's National Traffic Control Centre, Wolverhampton's Urban Traffic Control Centre, Gloucestershire's Fire Service College and its "practice motorway", the towers on the Severn Bridge and many more.
SABRE isn't just on the internet. Members have appeared on radio and television as our collective knowledge has grown, and we've uncovered information of interest to the wider world. Both BBC and local commercial radio stations have approached SABRE asking for their views and expertise on the road network. If you're looking for information as part of a research project that you think SABRE can help with, please get in touch via the "Contact Us" page.