The M53 forms a spine road along the Wirral, beginning at the Wallasey (Kingsway) Tunnel under the Mersey and passing through the industrial areas of Ellesmere Port before reaching the Chester Bypass.

This is a road that turned out very differently to the original plan. The M53 was what became of a 1940s proposal to build a road running the length of the Wirral to link to new docks at Bidston Moss. By the 1960s, it had grown into a motorway linking Birkenhead's new tunnel with the A55 near Queensferry.

When it was finished as far as Bebington, it connected to the new M531 Ellesmere Port Bypass towards Chester, with the intention that it would become a spur of the M53 when the motorway was finished, even though for the time being it was a direct continuation. When it became clear that the M53 would never be extended any further, the M531 was absorbed into the M53. It was then extended south from the end of the Ellesmere Port Bypass to join the A55 east of Chester.

Between junctions 4 and 5, the carriageways split where the M53/M531 junction should have been. Driving through this part is very strange: it looks for all the world like a junction, and it's painfully clear that one road is turning into another, despite the continuous number. Until the early 2000s, there was even an unused flyover wide enough for a three-lane motorway standing across the northbound carriageway.

The Ellesmere Port Bypass section often feels like the little brother of the road to the north of there. In many ways it is. It was originally opened as an unclassified dual carriageway called the Hooton Industrial Road, intended to carry traffic to the motor plant and other heavy industry, before being hastily upgraded to carry the motorway. This is why it has such closely-spaced junctions and some surprisingly tight corners.

The M53 is also unusual in starting on a road with a number that's actually a name. At the northern end it flows directly into the Mersey Tunnel, whose road number is "(Tunnel)". This is confirmed by signs, which read "(Tunnel)" in yellow as if it were any other number. However, some early plans for the Kingsway Tunnel showed it as part of the M53, and even today the roadside marker posts are calibrated from a zero point at the Liverpool end of the tunnel, not from the start of the motorway in Wallasey.

Start
Wallasey
End
Chester
Passes
Birkenhead, Ellesmere Port
Connects to
Length
20 miles
Open Junctions Section
Feb 1972 J1-5 Mersey Tunnel → Hooton
Jun 1975 J5-10 Hooton → A5117 Opened as M531
Mar 1981 J10-11 A5117 → Stoak
Jul 1982 J11-12 Stoak → Chester

Exit list

Junction   Northbound               Southbound  
1
9.0 km
Wallasey
Birkenhead
A554
All Docks Vehicle Ferry
A5139
Liverpool
(Tunnel)







A554
NORTH
(Tunnel)




A5139



A554
N/A
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes SignsSigns LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes SignsSigns
2 miles, 3 lanes 2 miles, 3 lanes
2
11.5 km
Upton
Moreton
Hoylake
A551
(A551) Upton
Moreton
Hoylake
A551
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 3 lanes 2 miles, 3 lanes
3
14.0 km
Heswall
West Kirkby
(A551)
Birkenhead
A552
A552
(A551)
A552 Heswall
(A551)
Birkenhead
A552
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 3 lanes 3 miles, 3 lanes
4
19.5 km
Clatterbridge
Heswall
A5137
Bebington
Port Sunlight
B5137
A5137

B5151
B5151

B5137
Clatterbridge
Heswall
A5137
Bebington
Port Sunlight
B5137
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 3 lanes 3 miles, 3 lanes
24.5 km
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
5
25.0 km
Birkenhead
Queensferry
A41
A41
(A550)
A41 Queensferry
(A550)
Eastham
Hooton
A41
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
0.1 miles, 3 lanes 0.1 miles, 3 lanes
6
26.0 km
Vauxhall (Cars Only)
Eastham Oil Terminal
Vauxhall (Cars Only)
Eastham Oil Terminal
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
0.7 miles, 2 lanes 0.7 miles, 2 lanes
7
28.5 km
North Road Ind. Est.
Overpool
Whitby
B5132
B5132 North Road Ind. Est.
Overpool
Whitby
B5132
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
0.7 miles, 2 lanes 0.7 miles, 2 lanes
8
29.5 km
Netherpool Ind. Est.
Rossmore Ind. Est.
Docks


B5463
A5032 Netherpool Ind. Est.
Rossmore Ind. Est.
Docks
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
0.5 miles, 2 lanes 0.5 miles, 2 lanes
9
30.6 km
East Port Centre
A5032


A5032
A5032


East Port Centre
Stanlow
A5032
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 2 lanes 2 miles, 2 lanes
10
34.0 km
Queensferry
Stanlow
A5117
A5117 A5117 Queensferry
Stanlow
A5117
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 3 lanes 1 mile, 3 lanes
11
35.5 km
Runcorn
Warrington
Manchester & Airport
M56 Link (M6 Link)
M56 M56
(M6)
Runcorn
Warrington
Manchester & Airport
M56 Link (M6 Link)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 2 lanes 3 miles, 2 lanes
12
40.0 km
N/A A56









A55
SOUTH
A56








Helsby
A56
Chester
A56
NORTH WALES
Holyhead
Queensferry
A55 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
Routes

Picture credits

With thanks to Kieron, Clive Wilkins, Mark Cleave, Tom Bathurst and Chris McKenna for information on this page.