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Route of the M40

The M40 was built in two sections. Originally it ran from London to Oxford, basically bypassing the congested A40, and this part was complete by 1974. In the late 1980s and early 1990s it became the last big construction project when it was eventually extended to hit the M42 at Birmingham, to take strain off the M1/M6 route.

Until very recently there were no services on the M40, meaning a drive from Folkestone to Birmingham could be done (M20, M26, M25, M40, M42) without passing one service area. Services now, thankfully, exist on the M20, M25 and M40. However, for a while the M40 was only serviced by a set of Portaloos at what is now Cherwell Valley.

Both of England's famous Universities, Oxford and Cambridge, have a direct motorway connection to London. But the M40 reached Oxford almost a decade before the M11 got as far as Cambridge. Rumour has it that this is because more members of Parliament had gone to Oxford than Cambridge at the time the schemes were being discussed...

Factfile

Start London (A40)
Finish Solihull (M42)
Passes Beaconsfield, High Wycombe, Oxford, Banbury, Royal Leamington Spa, Warwick
Length 89 miles
Terminates A34
Spurs None
Meets M25

With thanks to Oliver Newbury, Mick McCarthy, Gareth Allingham, Tom, Peter Harris and CJ for information in this section.