|From:||Donnington Wood (SJ708122)|
|Via:||Dawley, Madeley, Broseley|
|Distance:||16.7 miles (26.9 km)|
|Meets:||A4640, A442, B5061, B5072, A4169, B4375, B4376, B4364, B4363|
|Former Number(s):||B4380, B4377|
|Old route now:||A5223, B4375|
|Route outline (key)|
The road starts at a roundabout on the A4640 in the Donnington Wood area of Telford. It heads west to cross the A442 at Wombridge Interchange before turning southwards. It then goes over the Shrewsbury to Wolverhampton railway line and the M54 before crossing the B5072 at a roundabout. After going through Dawley and Madeley it descends into the valley of the River Severn at Ironbridge.
At Ironbridge the road turns very sharply left at a roundabout - so sharply, in fact, that traffic is requested to do a full circuit of the roundabout in order to make the turn (northbound traffic moves normally). The road then runs eastward along the bank of the Severn past the Bedlam Furnaces before reaching a bridge and crossing the river at the Jackfield Free Bridge.
The road doubles back on itself, running westward along the river for a short distance, before climbing out of the valley via a very tight hairpin bend. It levels out and passes Broseley, meeting the B4375 before bending left on reaching a spur of itself which runs back to the B4375 in Broseley.
The road reaches open country shortly afterwards and the B4376 to Much Wenlock turns off to the right. The B4373 then crosses the Dean Brook and continues south via Nordley, eventually reaching Bridgnorth.
On the northern edge of Bridgnorth town centre there is a mini-roundabout. The road to the right, Old Smithfield, is the obvious route to avoid the town centre - but this is unclassified and the B4373 still goes straight on, through the low, narrow North Gate onto the High Street. There is then a one-way loop: southbound traffic follows the unclassified road past the town hall (built in the middle of the road) before turning right onto Listley Street to pass the library and join northbound traffic at a mini-roundabout. Northbound traffic turns right at a mini-roundabout onto a useless multiplex along the B4364 before having to TOTSO if it does not want to use Old Smithfield.
As may be expected for a road through Telford, the route of the B4373 has changed considerably over the years.
At the Bridgnorth end, there has only been one change. The road originally used West Castle Street and New Road, ending at a sharp angle on the A458 (which originally went along Underhill Street and Hollybush Road).
The original northern end of the B4373 was on an unclassified road on the edge of Benthall. It headed east through Broseley and along its current spur to its current mainline at The Dunge. In 1935, the B4375 gained its current route and the B4373 was extended north along what was the B4377 (crossing the River Severn by the Iron Bridge itself). Following a short multiplex west along the B4380 along the river bank it headed north through Coalbrookdale along the former B4381 to Lawley and the B4382 which gave it a spur to Dawley.
The above paragraph is bending the facts slightly when it states that the B4373 crossed the Iron Bridge. Although this is true - and the road is still shown as crossing this bridge in the 1960s - the bridge was actually closed to vehicular traffic in 1934, when it still carried the B4377. Traffic was diverted downstream to cross the river at the unclassified Jackfield Free Bridge (so called because it was not a toll bridge like the Iron Bridge). Given that this bridge existed in 1922, it is not known why the route did not use this bridge from the beginning. By the 1950s classification had caught up with reality and the B4373 was shown on maps as crossing the Severn at both bridges, with the Iron Bridge declassified by the 1970s (although the B4373 retained a spur along Ladywood for a few more years). The Jackfield Free Bridge slowly deteriorated for most of the 20th century, eventually being declared unsafe in the 1980s and replaced by a Bailey bridge that was narrow enough to be controlled by traffic lights and so B4373 traffic had to TOTSO at both ends. The current bridge was opened in 1994.
The 1960s saw the creation of the A4169, to provide A-road access into Shifnal from the southwest. This road was quickly extended along the B4380 into Ironbridge and then along the northern section of the B4373 through Coalbrookdale to end on the A442 in Lawley. This cut the B4373 back to end in Ironbridge, although the spur that used to be the B4382 retained Class II status (its number is not known owing to its short length).
The development of Telford New Town altered the road numbering considerably. The A4169 was rerouted to bypass Ironbridge and then cross the river to Much Wenlock. As such, its route from Ironbridge to Lawley, at one time part of the B4373, is mostly bypassed, although some of the A5223 follows the same line.
The B4373 has also been extended north of Ironbridge once again. It has taken over part of the B4380 and A442 but most of it is new build. At one time the section over the railway line past Wombridge was a multiplex along the A518 but that road no longer runs this far west.
The vast majority of the northern section of B4373 is laid out as one of a pair of carriageways, with the space for the second carriageway being grassed over. This is due to it being one of Telford New Town's Secondary Distributor Roads, which were designed as full dual carriageways, but differed from the Primary Distributor Roads (such as the A442 Queensway) in having at-grade roundabout junctions along them. Indeed, the B4373 was probably to be the most important of the Secondary Distributors, running mostly north-south through the centre of the planned urban area.