The M1 is Britain's first full-length motorway and possibly its most iconic. (The Preston Bypass was the first, of course, but was not very long. It was part of the M6.) It is also one of the most important, forming the main road north from London, serving the industrial East Midlands and the most populous areas of Yorkshire before handing the north-south baton to the A1(M) near Leeds. It's part of the route from London and the south east to the West Midlands, Lancashire and Scotland. It does everything, in other words, short of making the tea.

Its first section ran from St Albans to Rugby and opened in December 1959. At the time it was stunning - the idea of a road on which you could maintain breakneck speeds (and with no speed limit), that gave you three full traffic lanes for fifty miles or more, that had flyovers and bridges to get all cross-traffic and other obstructions out of the way - well, it was unbelievable. Its architecture and bridges reflect its futuristic ambition, and those that survive from that era - designed by Owen Williams, who also created the iconic Twin Towers at the old Wembley stadium - are just as striking and unique as they were fifty years ago.

Today, it has seen a number of expensive upgrades to help it cope with modern traffic. Its original specification called for road that would carry 13,000 to 14,000 vehicles per day; today it carries 130,000 to 140,000. Widening and junction improvements between the M25 and Luton make the section closes to London more bearable, but sadly those changes meant destroying the highly unusual architecture of the original motorway. North of there, as far as Milton Keynes, it's been turned into a Smart Motorway, which isn't quite so good for capacity but has allowed Owen Williams' bridges to survive.

The M1 was mostly completed in the sixties, with a continuous road from London to Leeds finished by October 1968. There were plans to extend north, passing west of Leeds to meet the A1 at Dishforth, which were shelved in the 1970s. The problem of getting traffic north beyond Leeds remained, however, and in 1999 about eight miles of new motorway were tacked on to the top of the M1 to make it swing east of Leeds and connect to the A1(M) at Hook Moor.

Start
London
End
Hook Moor
Passes
Northampton, Leicester, Nottingham, Derby, Sheffield, Wakefield, Leeds
Length
200 miles
Open Junctions Section
Nov 1959 J5-18 Berrygrove → Crick Including M10 and M45 spurs
Nov 1965 J18-24 Crick → Kegworth
May 1966 J24-25 Kegworth → Sandiacre
Nov 1966 J4-5 Brockley → Berrygrove
Nov 1966 J25-26 Sandiacre → Nuthall
Apr 1967 J40-42 Wakefield → East Ardsley
May 1967 J2-4 Page Street → Brockley
May 1967 J26-28 Nuthall → Pinxton
Jul 1967 J32-34 Thurcroft → Tinsley
Oct 1967 J42-44 East Ardsley → Stourton
Nov 1967 J28-32 Pinxton → Thurcroft
Jun 1968 J34-36 Meadowhall → Tankersley
Sep 1968 J36-38 Tankersley → Darton
Oct 1968 J38-40 Darton → Wakefield
Jul 1977 J1-2 Brent Cross → Page Street
Feb 1999 J42-48 Stourton → Hook Moor

Exit list

Junction   Northbound               Southbound  
A1(M) J43
318.5 km
The NORTH
Wetherby
A1(M) Link
NORTH
A1(M)


A1(M)
The SOUTH
Hull (M62 Link)
A1(M) Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 3 lanes 1 mile, 3 lanes
47
316.6 km
Garforth
A642
Castleford
A656
B1217 A656

A642
Garforth
A642
Castleford
A656
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 3 lanes 3 miles, 3 lanes
46
312 km
Leeds (E) & Airport
A6120
Selby
A63

A63

A6120
Leeds (E)
A6120
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
2.5 miles, 3 lanes 2.5 miles, 3 lanes
45
307.5 km
Leeds (Cen)
A63
A63 Leeds (Cen)
A63
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1.5 miles, 3 lanes 1.5 miles, 3 lanes
44
305.2 km
Leeds (S)
A639
B6481

A639
A639 Leeds (S)
A639
(M621 Link)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 3 lanes 1 mile, 3 lanes
43
303.5 km
Leeds (Cen)
M621 Link
The NORTH
Leeds (E)
M1
M621
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1.5 miles, 5 lanes 1.5 miles, 5 lanes
42
300.7 km
Manchester
Bradford
Hull
M62 Link
M62 M62 Hull
Manchester
M62 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
2 miles, 5 lanes 2 miles, 4 lanes
41
298.1 km
Wakefield
A650
A650 A650 Wakefield
Morley
A650
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
3 miles, 4 lanes 3 miles, 4 lanes
40
294.5 km
Dewsbury
Batley
Wakefield
A638
A638 A638 Wakefield
Dewsbury
A650
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
3 miles, 4 lanes 3 miles, 4 lanes
39
289.4 km
Wakefield
A636
A636 A636 Denby Dale
A636
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
2 miles, 3 lanes 2 miles, 3 lanes
286.5 km Services Woolley Edge Services Woolley Edge
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 3 lanes 1 mile, 3 lanes
38
284.5 km
Huddersfield
A637
A637

A637
Huddersfield
A637
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
5 miles, 3 lanes 5 miles, 3 lanes
37
277 km
Barnsley
Manchester
A628
A628 A628 Barnsley
Manchester
A628
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
4 miles, 3 lanes 4 miles, 3 lanes
36
270.7 km
Barnsley (S)
A61
A61 A61 Sheffield (N)
A61
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 3 lanes  
35A
268.2 km
Manchester
A616
(A616)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
2 miles, 4 lanes 4 miles, 4 lanes
35
265.8 km
Rotherham
A629
A629 A629 Rotherham
A629
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
3 miles, 4 lanes 3 miles, 4 lanes
34
260.5 km
Sheffield (Meadowhall)
Rotherham & Airport
A6178
A6109

A6178

A631
A6109

A6178

A631
Sheffield (Cen)
Rotherham & Airport
A630
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
3 miles, 4 lanes 3 miles, 4 lanes
33
256.2 km
Sheffield (Cen)
Rotherham & Airport
A630
A630 A630
(A631)
Sheffield (Cen)
Rotherham & Airport
A630
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
3 miles, 4 lanes 3 miles, 4 lanes
32
251 km
The NORTH
Doncaster
Hull
M18 Link
M18 The NORTH
Doncaster
Hull
M18 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
2 miles, 4 lanes 2 miles, 4 lanes
31
248 km
Worksop
A57
A57 A57 Worksop
A57
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
3 miles, 4 lanes 3 miles, 4 lanes
242.5 km Services Woodall Services Woodall
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
2 miles, 4 lanes 2 miles, 4 lanes
30
239 km
Sheffield (S)
A6135
Worksop
(A619)
A6135 A6135
(A616)
(A619)
Chesterfield
Newark
A616
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
3 miles, 4 lanes 3 miles, 4 lanes
29A
234 km
Markham Vale
A6192
Bolsover
(A632)
A6192


A6192
(A632)
Markham Vale
A6192
Bolsover
(A632)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
4 miles, 4 lanes 4 miles, 4 lanes
29
228.5 km
Chesterfield
A617
A617

A6175
A617 Mansfield
A617
Matlock
(A632)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
4 miles, 4 lanes 4 miles, 4 lanes
222 km Services Tibshelf Services Tibshelf
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
3 miles, 4 lanes 3 miles, 4 lanes
28
217.5 km
Mansfield
Matlock
A38 Link
B6091

A38
A38 Derby
A38 Link
Matlock
(A615)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
4 miles, 4 lanes 4 miles, 4 lanes
27
212 km
Mansfield
A608
A608 A608 Heanor
Hucknall
A608
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
6 miles, 4 lanes 6 miles, 4 lanes
26
203 km
Ripley
Nottingham
A610
A610 A610 Nottingham
Ilkeston
A610
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
3 miles, 4 lanes 3 miles, 4 lanes
199.5 km Services Trowell Services Trowell
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
3 miles, 4 lanes 3 miles, 4 lanes
25
193.5 km
Nottingham
Derby
Ilkeston
A52
A52 A52 Nottingham
Derby
A52
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
5 miles, 3 lanes 4 miles, 3 lanes
24A
186.5 km
(A6)
(A50)
Derby
Stoke
A50 Link (A6)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
  1 mile, 3 lanes
24
185 km
Nottingham (S)
A453


A50



A453

A6
East Midlands Airport
A453
Loughborough
A6
Services Donington Park
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 4 lanes 2 miles, 4 lanes
23A
182.5 km
East Midlands Airport
A453
Stoke (A50 Link)
Derby (A6)
Services Donington Park
A453


A42
(M42)


The SOUTH WEST
Tamworth
Birmingham
A42 (M42) Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
5 miles, 3 lanes 5 miles, 3 lanes
23
175.5 km
Loughborough
A512
A512 A512 Loughborough
Ashby
A512
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
5 miles, 3 lanes 5 miles, 3 lanes
22
168 km
Coalville
Ashby
A511
A511 A50 Leicester
A50
Coalville
A511
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
6 miles, 3 lanes 6 miles, 3 lanes
21A
159.5 km
Leicester
Newark
A46
(A46)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 4 lanes 2 miles, 4 lanes
157.5 km Services Leicester Forest East Services Leicester Forest East
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 4 lanes 1 mile, 4 lanes
21
155 km
Coventry
M69 Link
Leicester
A5460
M69
(M6)
A5460 Coventry
Birmingham
M69 Link (M6 Link)
Leicester
A5460
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
11 miles, 3 lanes 11 miles, 3 lanes
20
138 km
Lutterworth
A4303
Market Harborough
A4304
A4303
(A426)
A4303 Lutterworth
A4303
Rugby
(A426)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 3 lanes 3 miles, 3 lanes
19
132.5 km
The NORTH WEST
Coventry (N)
Birmingham
M6 Link
M6 A14 Felixstowe
Kettering
A14 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
4 miles, 4 lanes 4 miles, 4 lanes
18
126.5 km
Hinckley
A5
Rugby
A428
Rail Freight Terminal
A428
(A5)
(A361)
A428 Daventry
A428 (A361)
Rail Freight Terminal
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
2 miles, 4 lanes  
17
123.5 km
Coventry (S)
M45 Link
M45
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs Signs
2 miles, 4 lanes 4 miles, 4 lanes
121.3 km Services Watford Gap Services Watford Gap
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
6 miles, 4 lanes 6 miles, 4 lanes
16
109.5 km
Daventry
A45
A45 A4500 Northampton (W)
A4500
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
4 miles, 3 lanes 4 miles, 3 lanes
15A
104 km
Northampton (N)
Oxford (M40 Link)
A43
Services Rothersthorpe



A43
(M40)



A43
Northampton (S)
Oxford (M40 Link)
A43
Services Rothersthorpe
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 3 lanes 3 miles, 3 lanes
15
100 km
Northampton (S & E)
A45
A508 A45 Northampton (E)
A45
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
9 miles, 3 lanes 9 miles, 3 lanes
84.6 km Services Newport Pagnell Services Newport Pagnell
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 3 lanes 3 miles, 3 lanes
14
80.5 km
Milton Keynes
Newport Pagnell
A509
A509 A509 Milton Keynes
Newport Pagnell
A509
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
5 miles, 3 lanes 5 miles, 3 lanes
13
72.8 km
Milton Keynes (S)
Bedford
A421 Link
Ampthill
A507
A421




A421



A507
Bedford
A421 Link
Woburn
Ampthill
A507
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
7 miles, 3 lanes + HSR 7 miles, 3 lanes + HSR
12
62.5 km
Flitwick
Woburn
A5120
A5120 A5120 Flitwick
Houghton Regis
A5120
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
1 mile, 3 lanes + HSR 1 mile, 3 lanes + HSR
61 km Services Toddington Services Toddington
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
2 miles, 3 lanes + HSR 2 miles, 3 lanes + HSR
11A
57.8 km
Aylesbury A5
Houghton Regis
Dunstable A5505
A5

A5505
Aylesbury A5
Houghton Regis
Dunstable A5505
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
2 miles, 3 lanes + HSR 2 miles, 3 lanes + HSR
11
54 km
Luton
Dunstable
A505
A505 A505 Luton
Dunstable
A505
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
3 miles, 3 lanes + HSR 3 miles, 3 lanes + HSR
10
49 km
Luton (S)
Luton Airport
A1081
A1081 Luton (S)
Luton Airport
A1081
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
2 miles, 4 lanes 2 miles, 4 lanes
9
45 km
Dunstable
Redbourn
A5183
A5183 A5183 Dunstable
Redbourn
A5183
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
5 miles, 4 lanes 5 miles, 4 lanes
8
39 km
Hemel Hempstead
A414


A414
Hemel Hempstead
A414
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
1 mile, 2+4 lanes 1 mile, 4+2 lanes
7
36.5 km
A414

St Albans
Hatfield
A414
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
2 miles, 4 lanes 2 miles, 4 lanes
6A
33.5 km
M25
(M3)
(M4)
(M40)
M25
(M11)
(M20)
Stansted Airport (M11 Link)
Dartford (M20 Link)
Heathrow Airport
(M40 Link, M4 Link, M3 Link)
M25 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
1 mile, 3 lanes 1 mile, 3 lanes
6
31.7 km
St Albans
A405
(M25 E Link)
A405 A405 Watford (N)
A405
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 3 lanes 2 miles, 3 lanes
5
28 km
Watford
A4008
Aylesbury
A41
A41
A4008
A41
Harrow
A41
Watford
A4008
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
5 miles, 3 lanes 4 miles, 3 lanes
4
21.5 km
(A41) Edgware
A41
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
  1 mile, 3 lanes
18.5 km Services London Gateway
(Scratchwood)
Services London Gateway
(Scratchwood)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
5 miles, 3 lanes 3 miles, 3 lanes
2
15 km
(A1)
(A406)
North Circular Road (E)
(A406 Link)
The City
A1 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
  2 miles, 3 lanes
1
11 km
N/A A406






SOUTH
A406
(A41)





North Circular Road (E)
West End (A41)
A406 Link
North Circular Road (W)
Heathrow Airport
A406 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes SignsSigns LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes SignsSignsSigns
Routes

With thanks to Clive Jones, John Morgan, Robert Sprigge, Moogal, Duncan Childs, Ian Hooper, Lewis, Phil Reynolds, Paul Berry and Nick for information on this page.