|Location Map ( geo)|
|To:||Pixmore Way, Baldock (TL262345)|
|Via:||Codicote, Hitchin, Letchworth, Baldock Town|
|Distance:||15.5 miles (24.9 km)|
|Meets:||B197, A1000, A1(M), B651, A602, A505, B197, A507|
|Former Number(s):||A600, A505|
|Route outline (key)|
The B656 is an L-shaped B-road in Hertfordshire.
The road starts in Welwyn at the northern roundabout at A1(M) J6, which provides access to the motorway's northbound onslip, as well as the A1000 and B197. From here the B656 heads west along the town's northern relief road before turning right at a roundabout to head north alongside the River Mimram. The road becomes semi-rural as it winds north before going through the village of Codicote and finally reaching open country.
After passing the hamlet of The Node the road goes through a wood on the western edge of the Knebworth estate and then descends through Langley and Rush Green before meeting the B651. The road then continues past St Ippolyts to reach the outskirts of Hitchin. It crosses a roundabout on the A602 southern bypass before entering the town centre along Park Street.
The road skirts the eastern edge of Hitchin town centre along Queen Street, which does provide access to one of the main car parks, before bearing right onto Walsworth Road. A couple of roundabouts later the A505 is reached just after passing the station. There is then a multiplex east for over two miles into Letchworth Garden City; when the A505 bears right at a roundabout towards the A1(M) the B656 reappears and continues ahead.
The road heads northeastwards through the suburbs and then an industrial estate/retail park before going under the A1(M) to enter Baldock. The road runs along Hitchin Street into the town centre and meets the B197 High Street at a mini-roundabout before crossing the A507 at traffic lights. The B656 now heads east out of town along Royston Road and reenters open country just before ending at a dumbbell GSJ on the A505.
The B656 is a rehash of previous road numbers. The section from Welwyn to Hitchin was originally part of the A600 but this was downgraded in the 1960s following the construction of the A1(M). For some years the road ended in Hitchin, although the exact end moved following the declassification of the High Street and construction of the A602 southern bypass.
Following the opening of the A505 Baldock bypass in the 2000s the B656 number was allocated to the bypassed road, thus giving the B656 a multiplex followed by an extension through Baldock. A short section of the road, between the present B197 and A507 in the town centre, runs along the Great North Road, the original line of the A1.