|Location Map ( geo)|
|Distance:||16.1 miles (25.9 km)|
|Meets:||A38, B3440, A373, M5, B3212, A3015|
|Former Number(s):||A38, B3176|
|Route outline (key)|
The B3181 is basically the old route of the A38 between just east of M5 J27 and Exeter. This was not the original renumbering, however, as the section through Cullompton carried the number B3176 for a while. It is not known why the A38 number was not returned to the road when the M5 swallowed up the Cullompton Bypass, which opened as A38 in 1968.
The B3181 starts at the Waterloo Cross junction with the A38, a roundabout interchange that in the past was a junction between the A38, which used to carry on down the current B3181, and the A373, which was renumbered to A38. The road is a fairly typical bypassed A road, still being an NSL S2 until it reaches Willand, which it passes through without ceremony.
Shortly afterwards, the B3181 passes Diggerland, which is fairly near to northern terminus of the Cullompton Bypass, which has long since been removed. The road remains the same NSL S2 standard it was before Willand up to a roundabout with a new Cullompton relief road, where the 30 mph limit is once again imposed. The relief road is actually unclassified but it does provide a shorter route to a spur of the B3181 leading to M5 J28 and the A373.
Through Cullompton the road squeezes down to be a narrow S2, and a 20 mph zone has been imposed on the section through Fore Street. Once getting out of the town, the 60 mph limit returns until Wescott where there is a 40 mph limit. After this the speed limit alternates between 50 mph, and 40 mph until Broadclyst, with no further NSL for the rest of the road. Parts of this section were clearly once S3 and are now S2+1, with faded kicker arrows for the 'wrong' side still visible. It is around here that a gated access to the M5 exists, which was the southern terminus of the Cullompton Bypass. This is now used as an emergency access for the police.
The B3181 continues on, through Broadclyst and Pinhoe, before forming part of the Exeter Ring Road. Overall, an uninspiring if fairly quiet road.
The section of this road from Waterloo Cross over Leonard Moor may have been a Roman Road. The original route from Cullompton to Exeter went through Bradninch via Killerton and over Stoke Hill. By 1765 the road avoided Stoke Hill by going into Exeter via Broadclyst and Exeter.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the road from Waterloo Cross to Cullompton was run by the Tiverton Turnpike Trust and from Cullompton to Exeter via Bradninch by the Exeter Turnpike Trust. In 1815 a new route from Cullompton to Hazel Stone near Broadclyst opened having been created by the Cullompton Turnpike Trust.
In 1922 it became part of the A38. When the Cullompton Bypass was opened in 1968 the section from Five Bridges to Hele was renumbered as the B3176. When the M5 opened in 1975 it became the B3181. It is not known why the A38 number was not returned to the road at this time.