Blackpool is busy enough to require a direct motorway connection to the M6 and the wider world, and the M55 is here to do the job. It begins to the north of Preston and runs to the outskirts of Blackpool where traffic is dispersed onto a number of smaller approach roads.

During the summer, it's often thick with traffic, and accounts for about half of the traffic load of the M6 around Preston. In winter months it tends to be noticeably quieter. Even so, Blackpool and Preston are large urban centres in their own right, and the motorway remains reasonably well used all through the year.

There's no junction 2 on the M55, which was reserved for the Preston Western Bypass. This road was first proposed in the 1950s, and when the M6 was first built it was supposed to be one side of a complete box around the city. The plan reappeared in the 1980s, and eventually was cancelled for good. Its fate was sealed when the M6 Preston Bypass was widened to dual four-lanes instead.

The original plan was to extend the M65 to join the M55 at J2, and construct an M59 from the missing junction on the M58 to the south-west of Preston. The Western Bypass, complete with a new crossing of the Ribble, is now back on the cards as a future proposal for a local road to allow Preston's westward expansion.

The M55 is perhaps the candidate for most unassuming bit of road to be a crucial part of British motoring history. The section of motorway from the M6 to M55 junction 1 was built as the northernmost part of the Preston Bypass, meaning that it was once Britain's first motorway.

Start
Preston
End
Blackpool
Passes
None
Connects to
Length
12 miles
Open Junctions Section
Dec 1958 J0-1 Preston Eastern Bypass
Jul 1975 J1-4 Preston Northern Bypass

Exit list

Junction   Eastbound               Westbound  
M6 J32
25.5 km
The NORTH WEST
Lancaster
M6 Link
The SOUTH
Manchester (M61 Link)
Liverpool (M58 Link)
M6 Link






M6
EAST






M6
(M58)
(M61)
N/A
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 4 lanes 1 mile, 2+2 lanes
1
24.5 km
Preston
Broughton
A6
A6



A6



Preston
Broughton
A6
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
7 miles, 3 lanes 7 miles, 3 lanes
3
13 km
Kirkham
Fleetwood
A585
A585 A585 Kirkham
Poulton-le-Fylde
Fleetwood
A585
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
4 miles, 3 lanes 4 miles, 3 lanes
4
6.5 km
N/A A583






A5230
WEST
A583





Blackpool & Airport
Lytham St Anne'
s
A5230
Great Marton
North Shore
A583
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
Routes

Picture credits

With thanks to Aran Smithson and Martyn Clapham for information on this page.