Celebrating six lanes

Celebrating six lanes

Growing up in England, I spent a bit of time on the UK’s largely excellent roading system. Well, it’s excellent at 3am when there’s no one else on it, but it can be slower than a village idiot in a math’s quiz during rush hour, an accident or when the ubiquitous roadworks are in full swing.

Seeing as the car is now well and truly over a hundred years old you might have expected motorways to have been around for the majority of that, but that’s not the case.

December 5, 2008 is the 50th Anniversary of the opening of Britain’s first motorway, the Preston By-Pass, now part of the M6 in Lancashire. Championed by the then Transport Minister, Harold Watkinson, and opened by the Prime Minister, Harold MacMillan, this new-style road marked the start of a new era of safer, more reliable road travel for people and goods – an event as significant in the UK’s economic history as the invention of canals, steam power, railways and the internal combustion engine itself.

The opening of the Preston By-Pass on 5th December 1958 was followed by a large section of the southern M1 in November 1959 giving reality to our new motorway era. Guided by early experience in Europe and America, British engineers in the 1950s refined and improved design standards to better fit British needs and perfect what are now Britain’s safest roads, carrying 20% of all traffic including 42% of heavy goods traffic.

Because roading bureaucrats lead a fairly boring and thankless life, any excuse for a knees-up is welcome, so the 50th anniversary of the coming of the motorway era will be celebrated with a series of events and activities, co-ordinated by a steering group of logistics and professional bodies. Sounds like a lot of slightly overweight people with one half of their shirts untucked talking passionately about how they manage their ‘flow’.

If you want to partake in a bit of tarmac partying, details of anniversary events and plans will be published on the 50th Anniversary Website -www.50yearsofmotorways.org. This site will advertise events as they are finalised, and provide a mine of information on the history of the system and prospects for its development.

Growing up in England, I spent a bit of time on the UK’s largely excellent roading system. Well, it’s excellent at 3am when there’s no one else on it, but it can be slower than a village idiot in a math’s quiz during rush hour, an accident or when the ubiquitous roadworks are in full swing.

Seeing as the car is now well and truly over a hundred years old you might have expected motorways to have been around for the majority of that, but that’s not the case.

December 5, 2008 is the 50th Anniversary of the opening of Britain’s first motorway, the Preston By-Pass, now part of the M6 in Lancashire. Championed by the then Transport Minister, Harold Watkinson, and opened by the Prime Minister, Harold MacMillan, this new-style road marked the start of a new era of safer, more reliable road travel for people and goods – an event as significant in the UK’s economic history as the invention of canals, steam power, railways and the internal combustion engine itself.

The opening of the Preston By-Pass on 5th December 1958 was followed by a large section of the southern M1 in November 1959 giving reality to our new motorway era. Guided by early experience in Europe and America, British engineers in the 1950s refined and improved design standards to better fit British needs and perfect what are now Britain’s safest roads, carrying 20% of all traffic including 42% of heavy goods traffic.

Because roading bureaucrats lead a fairly boring and thankless life, any excuse for a knees-up is welcome, so the 50th anniversary of the coming of the motorway era will be celebrated with a series of events and activities, co-ordinated by a steering group of logistics and professional bodies. Sounds like a lot of slightly overweight people with one half of their shirts untucked talking passionately about how they manage their ‘flow’.

If you want to partake in a bit of tarmac partying, details of anniversary events and plans will be published on the 50th Anniversary Website -www.50yearsofmotorways.org. This site will advertise events as they are finalised, and provide a mine of information on the history of the system and prospects for its development.

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