A34

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Route of the A34

The A34 is the local kid made good, whose proud parents no doubt were pictured in the local papers when their little A34 went on to great things. It started life in 1922 as the road from Winchester to Oxford, and that was that — but in a numbering review in 1934, was picked from scores of hopefuls in a road-themed talent contest to be extended north all the way to Salford via Birmingham, Stoke and Manchester. The X Factor judges were looking for a single route to link the south coast ports to the industrial north-west, and the A34's tear-jerking rendition of "Unchained Melody" in the semi-final made it the obvious choice.

The arrival of the motorway age has seen much of it replaced, so while you could still stubbornly choose to follow the A34 right up to Salford, you'd have a much easier time taking the M40, M42 and M6. The road is still there, except for a gap created parallel to the M40.

The southern section — which, as it happens, is the original bit — is still performing its time-honoured function, linking Winchester to Oxford and providing the first part of that route from the south coast to the north. Today it is a fast inter-city highway, touching on motorway standard in places, all vastly upgraded over the years, and that's the part described in the Motorway Database. The final upgrades happened in recent years, with the opening of the highly controversial Newbury Bypass in the 1990s, and then finally the upgrades to the M4 interchange that now let the A34 pass through non-stop. Those works have effectively completed the route, creating a free-flowing dual carriageway from the M3 to the M40.

That's not to say that it's all sunshine and happiness on the A34 — in fact the cracks are beginning to show. The road is only two lanes each way for its entire length, which are often inadequate — especially around Oxford where it doubles up as the ring road. And at each end it still smashes headlong into a roundabout where it terminates on the motorway. But all things considered, there are worse ways to travel between Oxford and Winchester — even if its singing voice is not all it once was.

You're not looking at the whole A34

This page only deals with the parts of the A34 that are classed as motorway or that have motorway characteristics. Any other sections of this road won't be featured here and will not count towards the mileage shown below.

Factfile

Start Wendlebury (M40)
Finish Winchester (M3)
Passes Oxford, Newbury
Length 70 miles
Connects to M3, M4, M40, A303

With thanks to Johnny for information in this section.