Articles

Explore the road network in serious detail — from historical accounts to investigations, detailed tours of specific roads and biographies of the people who had a major impact on the way we travel.

Wherever these articles take you, they try to help you understand not just what is there, but also why things are the way they are.

Opening booklets

In days gone by, new roads were often celebrated with a grand opening ceremony and the issue of a commemorative booklet heralding the exciting new highway. You'll find some of them here, complete with a glimpse of all that empty tarmac and a healthy dose of modernist optimism.

Histories

Clear and legible

A century ago, one short memorandum issued by the Ministry of Transport laid the groundwork for a system of standardised, uniform road signs and a great deal more.

Histories

To the Limit

Speed limits are more emotive and divisive than almost anything else about the road network. How do you sort the fact from the opinion? And how did we end up with the speed limits we have?

Guides

The Heads of the Valleys

The A465 Heads of the Valleys Road is one of the most spectacular trunk roads in the UK, and building it required some of the most remarkable civil engineering. This is the story of how the road was built in the 1960s, and how it's being rebuilt today.

Routes
Histories

Operation Stack

If there's trouble crossing the Channel, you'll see the lorries queuing on the M20. What is Operation Stack? Why does it cause so much trouble? And why, more than twenty years after it started, are we still using it?

Routes
M20
Guides

Low Emission Zone

A first step towards emissions-based road pricing, a pointless measure to enforce something that's happening anyway, or another leap forward in traffic planning from the people who created the Congestion Charge? It's hard to say.

Guides

Road Numbers

We'd be lost without them. Find your way around road numbering - how it works, how it was done and how it doesn't always work all that well.

Guides

Roundabouts

The UK has been driving in circles for a hundred years now, and this humble road junction has become part of British culture. Just what is so special about roundabouts?

Histories

Burdock Way

The humble West Yorkshire town of Halifax may well be the creator of the most adventurous urban road scheme in the country. It's astonishing, but what was built isn't even the half of it.

Routes
A58
Histories

Oxfordshire Signs

This is the story of one man at Oxfordshire County Council who pre-empted the development of modern road signs - much to the annoyance of the men from the Ministry.

Routes
A40
Histories

Sir James Drake

County Surveyor and Bridgemaster for Lancashire in the 1950s and 60s, Drake was instrumental in the motorway revolution.

Biographies

Timeline

A whistle-stop tour of the motor age, from the turn of the twentieth century to the present. No pedestrians, horse drawn vehicles, invalid carriages or motorcycles under 50cc please.

Histories

Underways

Proposed at the same time as the Ringways, but ten times as ambitious - and to think the government considered building them both!

Histories

Daniel "Swampy" Hooper

Britain's most famous anti-road protester, who shot to fame in the mid-1990s and came to represent the whole environmental movement.

Biographies

EuroRoute

Today you can catch a train to France. You can even put your car on it, and be there in less than an hour. But in the 1980s, Euro Tunnel had competition - including plans to build a motorway across the English Channel.

Histories

Harry Yeadon

A civil engineer, working principally in the North West of England, responsible for many of the area's motorways.

Biographies

B7076 and B7078

What sound at first like a pair of forgotten country lanes turn out to have had a major part to play in the history of Scotland's roads.

Routes
Tags
Tours

Liverpool Inner Motorway

There's almost no evidence of Liverpool's 1960's plans for an inner ring road on the ground - but the motorway that never materialised would have been astonishing. The full details on the route, and the missing part the M62, are here.

Routes
M62
Histories

M4 in Wales

One man's account of the building of the M4 through Wales, seen as he grew up in Swansea and witnessed it stage by stage - a tour of the motorway from its construction to the present day.

Routes
Histories

What's new

Go west! New Ringways pages are here

A new set of Ringways pages are now online, looking at unbuilt motorways and road projects west of London.

No smoke without ire

London's Ultra Low Emission Zone has just expanded to cover the whole inner city, and across the UK, other cities are implementing their own Clean Air Zones. Is this the future?

Devon help us

Road signs are colour coded for different types of road, but in Devon there are more colours than anywhere else. What do Devon's colourful signs mean?

Have you seen...

Hogarth Flyover

It makes the traffic situation in one part of West London much more bearable but it should have been removed more than quarter of a century ago. It's amazing what you can do with a big Meccano kit.