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(Great Britain) Fiftieth anniversary of M1 (opened November 2, 1959)


J N Winkler:
Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of 55 miles of motorway--most of it on the M1, but also including the entire lengths of the M45 (connecting the M1 to Coventry) and the M10 (southern flank of the St. Albans bypass).  This was Britain's first true interurban motorway.

Press coverage:

Road enthusiast websites (including SABRE Wiki):

And a few historic images . . .

Was this the first motorway in the United Kingdom?

It always amazes me how early the first motorway in the Netherlands opened, already in 1937. It took until the late 50's until significant progress was made with the network though. Only a few sections opened before/during WWII.

Here's another picture, as posted on the Skyscrapercity forums:

J N Winkler:
The M1 was not actually the first motorway to open--that was the Preston Bypass (now part of the M6), which opened on December 5, 1958.  But the length of M1 which opened in 1959 was much longer and not simply a town bypass, like at Preston.

In the late 1930's in Britain, there were serious proposals for roads which would not have been motorways per se but would have had closed central reservations and comprehensive grade separation.  In 1938, approval was given to build a bypass of the A20 around Maidstone to that general standard, but the war intervened before construction could begin.  These Maidstone bypass plans were shelved and redeveloped into what is now the M20 past Maidstone.


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