|Location Map ( geo)|
|To:||King's Heath (SP073814)|
|Via:||Acocks Green, Stockfield|
|Distance:||5.9 miles (9.5 km)|
|Meets:||A41, A4040, B4217, A34, A435|
|Old route now:||A4040|
|Route outline (key)|
The B4146 is an unusually shaped road in the southeastern suburbs of Birmingham. Throughout most of its length it acts as an alternative route to the A4040, with most of its sections leaving that road and then rejoining it later on.
The B4146 starts on the A41 in Tyseley and heads northeast, notwithstanding the fact that the other end of the road is to the southwest of here. This first stretch of the B4146 is not signed as a B-road, but rather as "(A4040) Alternative Route for H.G.V.s". This sign appears, strangely, in both directions; from the east end of this section of the road, which is on the A4040, the HGVs are directed down the B4146 and A41 back to the A4040, and from Tyseley Station, which is very near to the west end of the section, the HGVs are directed to the A4040 along the B4146 in preference to the A41. The alternative route seems most likely to be necessary because of gradients; the first few tens of yards of the B4146 are on a steep uphill slope that forks into two roads, with lorries banned from one half of the fork (being directed along the other half), and there is also a steep uphill slope on the A4040 from the B4146 to the A41. This stretch of road, along Wharfdale Road, is highly industrial, being mostly flanked by factories and warehouses.
There is a short multiplex north along the A4040 to a roundabout (which is unusual for having numbered Local Direction Signs and no corresponding navigational flag signs). After this, the B4146 heads south along Yardley Road, which unusually still has a sign marking it as a ring road. (Birmingham's outer ring road was normally considered to follow the A4040, back when it existed. The number 11 "Outer Circle" bus route, which typically follows the ring road, also goes via the B4146 through this section; this may be further evidence that the B4146 was once part of the ring road, but might simply be a convenient diversion to serve Acocks Green.)
The B4146 crosses the A41 again at a staggered crossroads/roundabout combo before following Westley Road back to the A4040, joining it at a longabout. Opposite is not the continuation of the road, but a bus garage; and although another B-road connects to the longabout on the other side, it is not a continuation of the road either, but the B4217. However, this is not the end of the B4146, which instead multiplexes south along the A4040 for about a mile.
The road reappears at a roundabout and heads west this time along a range of roads: School Road, changing to Cole Bank Road as it crosses the A34, Swanshurst Lane, and Coldbath Road. At its crossing of the River Cole, the road passes Sarehole Mill, which has Tolkien connections. This section is signposted as the B4146 (except southbound near its south end, where it is signposted as the "(A4040)"), and signed northbound as an alternative to the A4040 that passes through specific local destinations (Yardley and Acocks Green), although interestingly both these destinations are beyond the point at which the B4146 rejoins the A4040 (i.e. if you follow the signs, you will leave the A4040, rejoin it some time later during a multiplex, and then leave for the B4146 once more).
At the end of Coldbath Road, the B4146 cannons off the A4040 down Brook Lane (which seems designed to be a typical urban B-road: S2 with no parking allowed), and Addison Road (which is pretty much just a residential street); traffic generally seems to be discouraged from using this section via turning restrictions and the omission of the road's name or destinations from signposting. The road ends on the A435 Alcester Road in King's Heath.
That might not be the end of the story, though. The B4146's function is as an alternative to the A4040 (in fact, as explained below, the east section of the A4040 was constructed as a series of bypasses of the B4146), so it might be unexpected to see both ends on other roads. The north end is easily explained by the signposting: the alternative route to the A4040 that the B4146 provides also runs along the A41, a much more important road which thus gets the dominant number in the signposting (and the B4146 thus conceptually runs along the A41 for some distance after it ends). The south end is more interesting: there is an obvious direct route back to the A4040 along a short length of the A435 and the B4122 (and this is in fact the route the number 11 bus takes). The most likely reason why the B4122 and B4146 have not been renumbered to share a number (which would be pretty easy, given that the B4122 is unsigned) is that most traffic cannot turn directly between the two roads, as no-right-turn restrictions prevent traffic turning onto the A435 in the correct direction (regardless of which direction you try to bypass the A4040); there is an exception for taxis and buses, most likely to allow them access to King's Heath and at Camp Hill School.
The history of the B4146 is just as convoluted as its route. The above was all unclassified in 1922, even the multiplexes along the A4040. The B4146 started on the A45 in South Yardley and headed north to Stechford to end on the A47. By 1932 the B4146 had been extended at both ends along formerly unclassified roads to form a sort of Birmingham eastern bypass: it headed north to the A4097 (now A38) Tyburn Road in Birches Green and south along its current route (the A4040 did not exist then) to King's Heath and the A435.
1935 saw the beginning of change. The northernmost section of B4146 (from the A4097 to the A47) was renumbered as part of the new A4040, which at that time was a short road bypassing Aston. The section through Tyseley was also classified at this time, presumably as a spur of the B4146 but no maps make its number clear.
Later still, the A4040 was extended to form a full ring around Birmingham. It took over the whole of the B4146 north of the A45 but to the south only took over parts of the road, allowing the remnants of the B-road still to exist between sections. This accounts for the current fragmentary nature of the B4146.