|Location Map ( geo)|
|To:||Balterley Heath (SJ745506)|
|Distance:||7.1 miles (11.4 km)|
|Meets:||A34, B5369, B5367, A531|
|Route outline (key)|
The B5500 was originally part of the A52 (becoming a trunk road in 1958). It was downgraded in the 1980s when the A500 "bypass" was built, thus making the journey from Newcastle-under-Lyme to Nantwich so much easier.
The road leaves the A34 at a set of traffic lights approximately 1.5 miles north of Newcastle town centre, adjacent to Wolstanton Golf Club. This section is signposted for local traffic only and has a weight restriction, which must be quite a difference from when it was a major through route! It soon meets a roundabout, where it joins the B5369 from Wolstanton and a minor road leading to the speedway stadium.
On the far side of the roundabout, the B5500 passes along the main street of the former mining village of Chesterton. Then, at a raised junction with traffic lights, the road turns left at a poorly-signed TOTSO onto Victoria Street. The TOTSO is explained by the fact that the original route of the A52 was along the steep and narrow (and now one-way) Castle Street, meaning that any sort of re-routing was preferable! For some years the B5500 had to give way to Apedale Road just past the Victoria Street/Castle Street junction (presumably to deter through traffic) but priorities have been changed again and we have the through route. The road seems more rural immediately, despite the brickworks on the left.
About half a mile later, a roundabout is reached. Here, an unclassified road leads back to the A34, acting as a Chesterton northern bypass. This is the way through traffic is directed, which poses the question as twhy the B5500 still goes through the middle of Chesterton. Soon afterwards, the road bends to the left at Bignall Hill. The summit of the hill to the north is marked by Wedgwood's Monument (a memorial to John Wedgwood the coal mine owner rather than any of the famous pottery family) and the B5500 then passes through the hamlet of Bignall Hill before entering the village of Bignall End.
Bignall End is separated from Audley (the most important village on the B5500) by a short stretch of open country and the Dean Brook, after which there is quite a climb. Immediately to the north is the remains of a motte where Audley Castle once stood, emphasising its strategic importance. A mini-roundabout is soon reached, where the minor road provides quick access to the A500. The suburbs of Audley stretch on for some distance and it is not long after once more reaching open countryside that the B5367 joins from the left immediately before the B5500 crosses a bridge over the M6 at the hamlet of Shraleybrook.
If the section of the B5500 to the east of the M6 was rather winding, the section to the west is surprisingly much straighter. After leaving Shraleybrook the road straightens out completely. It passes through the hamlet of Balterley before entering Balterley Heath. After a crossroads, the county boundary between Staffordshire and Cheshire runs along the road for a short distance. Finally, the B5500 ends at a T-junction with the A531 just inside Staffordshire, next to the prominent Broughton Arms pub. The A52 used to TOTSO here (perhaps emphasising it would not leave Staffordshire without a fight) but now the A531 passes through logically.