|To:||West Altham (SD753302)|
|Distance:||6.5 miles (10.5 km)|
|Meets:||A666, A6077, B6236, B6234, A679, A6185, A680|
|Old route now:||A679|
|Route outline (key)|
The B6231 is a very busy commuter route between Blackburn and Accrington.
The road has a very humble start on the A666 directly underneath the M65 flyover at Earcroft, where the road commences as Sandy Lane and heads northeast down a steep hill into Lower Darwen village centre, where it reaches a mini-roundabout with the C618 Branch Road (signposted as B6231 also) outside the Uncle Jack's pub (originally The Swan, but renamed after the man - Jack Walker - who made Blackburn Rovers a premiership side in 1992). This junction was originally just a standard T-junction with the B6231 having to give way to Branch Road, but the mini-roundabout was installed in the mid 1990s. The petrol station that overlooks this junction attracts quite a bit of traffic so there can be queues here during the day.
Once clear of the roundabout, the road crosses over Stocks Bridge - the River Darwen beneath - and passes the village stocks which give the bridge its name. Sadly, the stocks are in very poor condition, something local hoodlums are all too aware of! Soon after, another mini-roundabout is crossed, which was installed in 1998 to give access to Darwen via an unclassified road. The B6231, however, continues straight on underneath the Ribble Valley Line at Rakes Bridge. This somewhat impressive viaduct was built in 1847 and has only been renovated once, in 1997 to celebrate its 150th birthday, when it was sandblasted. The railway above may just yet be re-doubled following singling post-Beeching.
There is little time to admire the viaduct before the B6231 sweeps past the Hindle Arms and climbs the 1 in 8 (12%) Stopes Brow. Until the early 1990s, the large ROF Blackburn site was on the right hand side of the road, but the factory is now another housing estate which has done nothing but exacerbate the traffic problems the road suffers. Some bizarre proposals existed at one point to close the road off here after the M65 opened but it was made obvious early on that it was a ridiculous idea and therefore it has never happened. A later proposal, one which still surfaces from time to time, was to bypass this section entirely by building a new link road from Rakes Bridge to Walker Industrial Park. This will also facilitate a massive housing development.
The next obstacle is Blackamoor Crossroads. This junction was signalised in 1977 as it was causing serious congestion on all approaches (the C613 intersects here, along the line of the Roman Road from Manchester to Ribchester). Once clear the B6231 is ruler-straight to Guide, passing the abandoned Guide Square on the left and empty former Walkersteel plant on the right. A signalised junction dating from 2008 guards the entrance to the Walker Industrial Park (although the road is much older than that), and then we run straight to Guide Crossroads, which gives access to the A6077 and M65 at junction 5. This used to be a crossroads with signals and was notorious until 1997 when a roundabout arrangement appeared to accommodate the motorway. The whole area was best avoided at rush hour, as thousands of commuters come to and from the new Shadsworth Business Park to the north, but in 2015 the roundabout was removed and a new signalised junction provided which has, for now, eased the problems.
Beyond Guide the B6231 enters a rural segment as School Lane and then Lottice Lane, which in 2009 was reduced to 50mph from National Speed Limit. The reason for this was linked in with the replacement of the terrible Britannia Crossroads with a roundabout to reduce the number of casualties that have happened over the years. The roundabout has a 40mph limit as does the B6231 beyond it, which is a bit low and regularly ignored. The descent into Oswaldtwistle is marked by a severe bend before it turns into New Lane and meets the B6234 at a mini-roundabout and turns right onto Union Road. This next section is heavily built-up through the town centre before the road passes through Church and meets the A679. In the 1980s the numbers were reviewed here so the B6231 vanishes under the rerouted A679 up until the junction with the A6185 Dunkenhalgh Way (providing access to the M65 at junction 7).
The B6231 shakes off the A-roads here, and commences up a steep hill through Dill Hall and eventually crosses into Altham West. At this point it meets the A680 at a set of signals and abruptly terminates. The road ahead is unclassified but links back to the A679 near the A56 Accrington Bypass.