Studland Motor Road

The UK's first motorway is unclassified, tolled and links a small Dorset village to a chain ferry. Sounds rather improbable, yes, but we don't make claims like that lightly.

It wasn't until 1949 that the Special Roads Act provided the legal framework for motorways, and most history books will tell you that while the likes of Lord Beaulieu sought legal powers for motorways much earlier than that date, none were ever granted. But that's not quite true. In 1923 an act of Parliament was passed to enable the building of the UK's first road that was reserved solely for the use of motor vehicles. And so was formed...

The Bournemouth-Swanage Motor Road and Ferry Company

Just how did this corner of Dorset come to have the UK's first motor road? And just why exactly do all the signs in Studland refer to a "toll ferry"?

A look around this unique and unassuming road - one that shows no sign of being a part of Britain's road history.

Page 1 of 3

With thanks to Jonathan Winkler for suggesting the Studland Motor Road as a topic that might reward further research. It certainly did!

In this section

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...

Mistakes

Making road signs is a tricky business, but fortunately the professionals who design them get it right. Usually.