|Location Map ( geo)|
|Places related to the A379|
|Places related to the A381|
Kingsbridge is a small, inconsequential town in south Devon, so why is it that over the last 90 years the roads around here seem to have been renumbered more than most? There is no obvious answer, but this page is designed to guide you through some of the many versions of road numbering - the Kingsbridge way!
All drawn maps use the 1946 OS NPE Sheet 188 as a base map for copyright purposes
At the dawn of road numbering in 1922, Kingsbridge had a very simple layout, with the A379 passing through the town centre from north to south, with the B3197 passing east to west, with the B3209 bypassing the town to the west.
No changes are visible on the 1927-28 MoT map, meaning that for the first few years all was quiet.
The only A road at this time was the A379, passing from east to west on its coastal route between Exeter and Plymouth. This saw it passing through the middle of Kingsbridge. Entering the town from the north we also have the B3196 and B3197, the latter of which passes through, continuing to Salcombe. Providing a link to the north from the B3197 to A379 is the B3194, which also crosses the B3196. Meanwhile, to the west the B3209 also links the A379 and B3197.
Technically, the B3194 is not marked on the source map, but the evidence so far suggests that this was an omission, rather than meaning it did not exist in that location in 1932.
Map Data Source - 1932 OS 10inch map
It is unlikely that any changes were made after the renumberings of 1935 before the war, so this map from 1946 almost certainly illustrates the changes made in 1935.
By now, the A381 has journeyed south to reach the unchanged A379 in Kingsbridge, and so removed most of the B3197's route. However, that road has, as compensation, gained the route of the B3209 as a spur. The B3194 and B3196 to the north remain unchanged.
Map Data Source - 1946 OS NPE Sheet 188
The biggest change for the 1960s is that the A381 has now been extended all the way into Salcombe, although not to the end of the former B3197. Instead, this short piece of road through the town remains a B-road whose number has not been identified as yet. This leaves the once mighty B3197 as a mere homeless stub of a road, occupying the route of the former B3209. The other routes remain unchanged at this point.
Map Data Source - 1961 OS 7th Series Sheet 188
In the early 1990s, Devon County Council undertook a major assessment of the classified routes in the county and changed rather a lot of them. To make matters worse, this process still seems to be underway.
As a result, Kingsbridge was left with the rather bizarre situation where the A379 and A381 met each other end-to-end in the centre of Kingsbridge and also somewhere to the east of Churchstow, but the roads between were B-roads at best. The route that served the most obvious link was the 'new' B3264, running along the former A379. The A381s old route was completely declassified, as it was diverted along the ex-B3194. At the same time, the B3196 had been shortened, terminating at Loddiswell to the north. Finally, however, the B road in Salcombe is identified as the B3204 in the 2003 Philips Book.
Map Data Source - 1996 Readers Digest Book of the Road; 2003 Philips Devon Street Atlas
As for now, well Devon County Council seem to have returned to sanity and liked the stray ends of the two A-roads together once more. The A379 has been reinstated to its original (1922) route, and the A381 multiplexes with it to continue its journey. However, quite which way this goes is uncertain, as the road continues into Salcombe along the original route of the B3197, and has also absorbed the former B3197 (ex-B3209) spur into its route!
This leaves us with the strange situation of only having one B road remaining in the area - the B3204 in Salcombe itself - a road which didn't exist in 1922.
Map Data Source - 2009 AA Road Atlas Britain; 2007/9 OS Online Mapping Data
You may well be wishing that this was the end of the story, but sadly it isn't. While the OS online mapping broadly seems to confirm what is outlined above (Landranger 1:50,000 mapping still shows the 1996 layout), other online mapping - Google and Bing - show a different story. They retain the A379 on its traditional route, but only show the A381 reaching West Alvington. From here the only other classified road shown is the B3197 stub heading north back to the A379. The road into Salcombe has been completely declassified. To further the case for the unreliability of these sources, the A379-A381-B3197-A379 route is shown as primary...