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A1 road (Great Britain)

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Title: A1 road (Great Britain)  
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Language: English
Subject: A roads in Zone 6 of the Great Britain numbering scheme, B roads in Zone 1 of the Great Britain numbering scheme, Blaydon Bridge, B roads in Zone 5 of the Great Britain numbering scheme, Brampton Hut interchange
Collection: A1 Road (Great Britain), Boroughbridge, Motorways in England, Roads in England, Roads in Scotland, Roads in Yorkshire, Transport in Barnet, Transport in Bedfordshire, Transport in East Lothian, Transport in Edinburgh, Transport in Hertfordshire, Transport in Islington, Transport in Lincolnshire, Transport in Northumberland, Transport in Nottinghamshire, Transport in the Scottish Borders, Transport in Tyne and Wear
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

A1 road (Great Britain)

A1 road shield

A1 road
Route information
Part of E15
Length: 410 mi (660 km)
Major junctions
South end: City of London[1]

A40 A40 road
A406 A406 road
[ M 1  ] M1 motorway
A41 A41 road
[ M 25  ] M25 motorway
A421 A421 road
A428 A428 road
A14 A14 road
A15 A15 road
A47 A47 road
A16 A16 road
A606 A606 road
A43 A43 road
A52 A52 road
A17 A17 road
A46 A46 road
A57 A57 road
[ M 18  ] M18 motorway
[ M 62  ] M62 motorway
A63 A63 road
A64 A64 road
A168 A168 road
A61 A61 road
A66 A66 road
[ A 66 (M)  ] A66(M) motorway
A689 A689 road
A690 A690 road
[ A 194 (M)  ] A194(M) motorway
A1231 A1231 road
A19 A19 road
A69 A69 road
A167 A167 road

A720 A720 road
North end: Edinburgh
Hatfield, Hertford, Stevenage, Huntingdon, Peterborough, Stamford, Grantham, Newark-on-Trent, Retford, Doncaster, Pontefract, Leeds, Wetherby, Harrogate, Scotch Corner, Darlington, Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle upon Tyne, Morpeth, Alnwick, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Haddington, Edinburgh
Road network

The A1 is the longest numbered road in the UK, at 410 miles (660 km). It connects London, the capital of England and the United Kingdom, with Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. It passes through and near North London, Hatfield, Welwyn Garden City, Stevenage, Baldock, Letchworth Garden City, Huntingdon, Peterborough, Grantham, Newark-on-Trent, Retford, Doncaster, Leeds, Harrogate, York, Ripon, Darlington, Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle upon Tyne, and Berwick-upon-Tweed.[2]

It was designated by the Ministry of Transport in 1921, and for much of its route it followed various branches of the Great North Road, the main deviation being between Boroughbridge and Darlington. The course of the A1 has changed where towns or villages have been bypassed, or where new alignments take a slightly different route. Several sections of the route have been upgraded to motorway standard and designated A1(M). Between the M25 (near London) and A696 (near Newcastle upon Tyne) the road is part of the unsigned Euroroute E15 from Inverness to Algeciras.


  • History 1
  • Inns 2
  • Route 3
  • Overview and post-First World War developments 4
  • Recent developments 5
    • A1 Peterborough to Blyth grade separated junctions 5.1
    • A1(M) Bramham to Wetherby motorway 5.2
    • A1(M) Dishforth to Leeming motorway 5.3
  • Proposed developments 6
    • A1(M) Leeming to Barton motorway 6.1
    • A1 (Lobley Hill) 6.2
    • Ellington to Fen Ditton scheme 6.3
    • Sandy-Beeston Bypass 6.4
    • Other proposals 6.5
  • A1(M) 7
  • Cultural references 8
  • Junctions 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


The A1 is the latest in a series of routes north from London to York and beyond. It was designated in 1921 by the Ministry of Transport under the Great Britain road numbering scheme.[3][4] The earliest documented northern routes are the roads created by the Romans during the period from AD 43 to AD 410, which consisted of several itinera (plural of iter) recorded in the Antonine Itinerary.[5] A combination of these were used by the Anglo-Saxons as the route from London to York, and together became known as Ermine Street.[6] Ermine Street later became known as the Old North Road.[7] Part of this route in London is followed by the current A10.[8] By the 12th century, because of flooding and damage by traffic, an alternative route out of London was found through Muswell Hill, and became part of the Great North Road.[7][8] A turnpike road, New North Road and Canonbury Road (A1200 road), was constructed in 1812 linking the start of the Old North Road around Shoreditch with the Great North Road at Highbury Corner.[9] While the route of the A1 outside London mainly follows the Great North Road route used by mail coaches between London and Edinburgh, within London the coaching route is only followed through Islington.[10]

The A1 route was modified in 1927 when bypasses were built around Barnet and Hatfield. In the 1930s bypasses were added around Chester-le-Street and Durham, and the Ferryhill Cut was dug. In 1960 Stamford, Biggleswade and Doncaster were bypassed, as were Retford in 1961 and St Neots in 1971. During the early 1970s plans to widen the A1 along Archway Road in London were abandoned after considerable opposition and four public inquiries during which road protesters disrupted proceedings.[11] The scheme was finally dropped in 1990.[12] The Hatfield cut-and-cover was opened in 1986.[13]

A proposal to upgrade the whole of the A1 to motorway status was investigated by the Government in 1989[14] but was dropped in 1995, along with many other schemes, in response to road protests against other road schemes (including the Newbury Bypass and the M3 extension through Twyford Down).[15]


The Angel Inn at Wetherby is a coaching inn on the former A1, bypassed since the 1950s.

The inns on the road, many of which still survive, were staging posts on the coach routes, providing accommodation, stabling for the horses and replacement mounts.[10] Few of the surviving coaching inns can be seen while driving on the A1, because the modern route now bypasses the towns with the inns.


The A1 runs from New Change in the City of London at St. Paul's Cathedral to the centre of Edinburgh. The road skirts the remains of Sherwood Forest, and passes Catterick Garrison. It shares its London terminus with the A40, in the City area of Central London. It runs out of London through Islington (where Upper Street forms part of its route), up Holloway Road, through Highgate, Barnet, Potters Bar, Hatfield, Welwyn, Stevenage, Baldock, Biggleswade, Sandy and St Neots.

Continuing north, the A1 runs on modern bypasses around Stamford, Grantham, Newark-on-Trent, Retford, Bawtry, Doncaster, Knottingley, Garforth, Wetherby, Knaresborough, Boroughbridge, Scotch Corner, Darlington, Newton Aycliffe, Durham and Chester-le-Street, past the Angel of the North sculpture and the Metrocentre in Gateshead, through the western suburbs of Newcastle upon Tyne, Morpeth, Alnwick, Berwick-upon-Tweed, into Scotland, past Haddington and Musselburgh before arriving in Edinburgh at the East End of Princes Street near Waverley Station, at the junction of the A7, A8 and A900 roads.

Scotch Corner, in North Yorkshire, marks the point where before the M6 was built the traffic for Glasgow and the west of Scotland diverged from that for Edinburgh. As well as a hotel there have been a variety of sites for the transport café, now subsumed as a motorway services.

Overview and post-First World War developments

Most of the English section of the A1 is a series of alternating sections of dual carriageway and motorway. From Newcastle upon Tyne to Edinburgh it is a trunk road with alternating sections of dual and single carriageway. The table below summaries the road as motorways and non-motorways sections,[16]
Road Name Junctions Length Ceremonial counties/
Primary destinations
miles km
A1 16.58 26.68 London
A1(M) 1–10 24.14 38.84 Hertfordshire Hertford
A1 26.25 42.24 Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire
A1(M) 13–17 12.84 20.66 Cambridgeshire Peterborough
A1 72.99 117.44 Cambridgeshire, Rutland
Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire
Stamford, Grantham
Newark on Trent
A1(M) 34–38 15.13 24.34 South Yorkshire Doncaster, Rotherham
A1 7.51 12.08 South Yorkshire
West Yorkshire
A1(M) 40–51 51.14 82.29 West Yorkshire
North Yorkshire
Selby. Leeds
A1 7.67 12.34 North Yorkshire Thirsk
Scotch Corner
A1(M) 56–65 34.46 55.45 North Yorkshire, County Durham
Darlington, Bishop Auckland
Teesside, Durham
A1 128.29 206.42 Northumberland, Berwickshire
East Lothian, Edinburgh
Gateshead, Newcastle upon Tyne
Morpeth, Alnwick
Berwick-upon-Tweed, Haddington
Total 397.00 638.78
A single carriageway section of the A1 skirting the Scottish coastline just across the border from Northumberland.

A 13-mile (21 km) section of the road in North Yorkshire, from Walshford to Dishforth, was upgraded to motorway standard in 1995.[17] Neolithic remains and a Roman fort were discovered.

A 13-mile (21 km) section of the road from Alconbury to Peterborough was upgraded to motorway standard at a cost of £128 million (£197 million as of 2015),[18]which opened in 1998[19] requiring the moving the memorial to Napoleonic prisoners buried at Norman Cross.[20]

A number of sections between Newcastle and Edinburgh were dualed between 1999 and 2004, including a 1.9-mile (3 km) section from Spott Wood to Oswald Dean in 1999, 1.2-mile (2 km) sections from Bowerhouse to Spott Road and from Howburn to Houndwood in 2002–2003 and the 8.5-mile (13.7 km) "A1 Expressway", from Haddington and Dunbar in 2004. The total cost of these works was some £50 million.[21]

Plans to dual the single carriageway section of road north of Newcastle upon Tyne were shelved in 2006 as they were not considered a regional priority by central government. The intention was to dual the road between Morpeth and Felton and between Adderstone and Belford.[22]

In 1999 a section of A1(M) between Bramham and Hook Moor opened to traffic along with the extension of the M1 from Leeds.[23] Under a DBFO contract,[24] sections from Wetherby to Walshford and Darrington to Hook Moor were opened in 2005 and 2006, taking the section to a junction.

Recent developments

A1 Peterborough to Blyth grade separated junctions

Between August 2006 and September 2009 six roundabouts on the A1 and the A1(M) to Alconbury were replaced with grade-separated junctions. These provide a fully grade-separated route between the Buckden roundabout (just north of St Neots and approximately 8 miles (13 km) north of the Black Cat roundabout) and just north of Morpeth.[25] This project cost £96 million.[26]

Blyth (A614) Fully operational May 2008
Apleyhead (A614/A57) Fully operational January 2008
Markham Moor (A57) Fully operational April 2009
Gonerby Moor (B1174) Fully operational March 2008
Colsterworth (A151) and the junction with the B6403 Fully operational September 2009
Carpenters Lodge (Stamford) (B1081) Fully operational December 2008

A1(M) Bramham to Wetherby motorway

Upgrading the 6.2 miles (10 km) of road to dual three-lane motorway standard between the Bramham/A64 junction to north of Wetherby to meet the section of motorway at a cost of £70 million began in 2006, including a road alongside for non-motorway traffic. The scheme's public inquiry began on 18 October 2006 and the project was designed by James Poyner. Work began in May 2007, the motorway section opened in July 2009 and remaining work on side roads was still ongoing in late August and was expected to be completed by the end of 2009.[27]

A1(M) Dishforth to Leeming motorway

Upgrading of the existing dual carriageway to dual three-lane motorway standard, with a local road alongside for non-motorway traffic, between Dishforth (A1(M)/A168 junction) and Leeming Bar, began in March 2009 and opened to traffic on or about the scheduled date of 31 March 2012.[28]

Proposed developments

A1(M) Leeming to Barton motorway

It had originally been proposed that the road would be upgraded to motorway from Dishforth to Barton (between Scotch Corner and Darlington), which was the start of current northernmost section of A1(M). In 2010 the section between Leeming and Barton was cancelled as part of government spending cuts[29] but was reinstated in December 2012.[30] Work began on 3 April 2014 and is expected to be completed by Spring 2017. Once implemented, it will provide a continuous motorway-standard road between Darrington (south of M62 junction) and Washington, and will provide the North East and North Yorkshire with full motorway access to London (via the M1)

A1 (Lobley Hill)

In his Autumn Statement on 5 December 2012, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that the government would upgrade a section of road at Lobley Hill, Gateshead at a cost of £64m.[31]

Ellington to Fen Ditton scheme

The planned A14 Ellington to Fen Ditton scheme would require a new junction at Brampton, north of which the A1 will be widened to a three-lane dual carriageway from Brampton to the Brampton Hut interchange. The new two-lane dual carriageway section of the A14 would run parallel with the A1 on this section.[32]

Sandy-Beeston Bypass

Sandy-Beeston Bypass
Location Bedfordshire
Proposer Highways Agency
Cost estimate £67 million
Start date 2016

In 2003 a proposal for a bypass of Sandy and Beeston, Bedfordshire, was put forward as a green-lighted scheme as part of a government multi-modal study, with a cost of £67 million.[33] However, the Highways Agency was unwilling to confirm the information as the study was preliminary and intended for future publication.[34] In 2008 the proposal was submitted for consideration in the pre-2013/14 Regional Funding Advice 2 Programme of the East of England Development Agency.[35]

Other proposals

The Highways Agency has been investigating an upgrade of the A1 Newcastle/Gateshead Western By-Pass to dual three-lane motorway standard to alleviate heavy congestion which in recent years has become a recurrent problem.[36]

Improvements to junctions near the village of Elkesley, Nottinghamshire are planned: the village's only access to the rest of the road network is via the A1.[37]

Consideration is being given to widening the Brampton Hut interchange to Alconbury sections to a three-lane dual carriageway.[32]


A1(M) looking southwards from junction 2 at Hatfield

Some sections of the A1 have been upgraded to motorway standard. These are known as the A1(M) and are part of European route E15. These include:

M25 to Stotfold

The M25 to Stotfold section is 23 miles (37 km), and was constructed between 1962 and 1986. The main destinations are Hatfield, Welwyn Garden City, Stevenage, and Letchworth It opened in five stages: junctions 1 to 2 in 1979; 2 to 4 in 1986; 4 to 6 in 1973; 6 to 8 in 1962; and 8 to 10 in 1967.

Alconbury to Peterborough

The Alconbury to Peterborough section is 14 miles (23 km), and opened in 1998.

Doncaster bypass

The Doncaster bypass opened in 1961 and is one of the oldest sections of motorway in Britain.[38] It is 15 miles (24 km) long, and runs from Blyth to Carcroft.

Darrington to Leeming

The Darrington to Leeming section was constructed between 1995 and 2012. It is 34 miles (55 km), and opened in sections:

  • Walshford to 49 in 1995
  • Junctions 43 to 44 in 1999
When this section opened it ended at a temporary terminus south of the M1. There was a final exit into Micklefield Village for non-motorway traffic onto what is now the access road. During the first week of June 2009, Junctions 44 and 45 were renumbered 43 and 44. At the same time the A1/A659 Grange Moor junction became A1(M) Junction 45.[39] As a result many atlases show incorrect junction numbering for this stretch of motorway.
  • Junction 46 to temporary junction at Walshford opened in 2005[40]
  • Junction 40 to south of 43 opened in 2005 & 2006
The northern section of the upgrade, bypassing Fairburn village opened in April 2005 with a temporary connection with the A1 between Fairburn and Brotherton. The southern section, with a free-flow interchange with the M62 motorway opened on 13 January 2006.
  • Junctions 44 to 46 opened in 2009[41]
  • Junctions 49 to 51 opened as of 31 March 2012. Work began in March 2009 to upgrade the Dishforth to Leeming section to dual three-lane motorway standard with existing connections being replaced by two new junctions.[42] This work was completed on 31 March 2012.
Scotch Corner to Gateshead

The Scotch Corner to Gateshead section is 30 miles (48 km), and opened in stages:

  • Junctions 56 to 59 in 1965
  • Junctions 59 to 63 in 1969
  • Junctions 63 to 65 in 1970

Cultural references

The A1 is celebrated in song. It is mentioned by Jethro Tull on the title track of the album Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die! "Up on the A1 by Scotch Corner". "Scotch Corner," by the Welsh band Man, on the album Rhinos, Winos and Lunatics is about an encounter there. Near the southern end, signs saying "Hatfield and the North" inspired the eponymous 1970s rock band Hatfield and the North. The A1 is mentioned in The Long Blondes' song, "Separated By Motorways", along with the A14. The A1(M) is mentioned in the song "Gabadon" by Sheffield band, Haze. Andrew Blackman's 2009 novel "On the Holloway Road", inspired by Jack Kerouac's On the Road, centres on a road trip along the A1.[43]


A1(M) Motorway junctions - South Mimms to Stotfold
Northbound exits (A carriageway) Junction Southbound exits (B carriageway)
M25 - (M1),

(M3), (M11), (M4), (M40), (M23), (M20), Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted

A1081 - Barnet

South Mimms Services



Road continues as A1 to London
A1001 - Welham Green J2 No access
A1001 - Hatfield

A414 - St Albans

J3 A1001 - Welham Green

A414 - St Albans

A414 - Hertford

A6129 - Welwyn Garden City

J4 A1001- Hatfield

A414 - Hertford

A6129 - Welwyn Garden City

Ramp on Only J5 No access
A1000 - Welwyn J6 A1000 - Welwyn Garden City, Welwyn
A602 - Stevenage J7 A602 - Stevenage, Ware
A602 - Stevenage, Hitchin, Luton Airport J8 A602 - Stevenage, Hitchin, Luton Airport
A505 - Letchworth, Baldock J9 A505 - Letchworth, Baldock
A507 - Stotfold, Shefford,

Baldock Services



A507 - Stotfold, Baldock

Baldock Services

A1 Road junctions - Stotfold to Alconbury
Northbound exits (A carriageway) Junction Southbound exits (B carriageway)
Langford, Edworth, Hinxworth Langford Turn Langford, Edworth, Ashwell, Hinxworth
A6001 - Biggleswade Biggleswade Roundabout A6001 - Biggleswade
A6001 - Biggleswade, Old Warden Old Warden Roundabout A6001 - Biggleswade, Old Warden
A603 - Bedford

B1042 - Sandy

Sandy Roundabout A603 - Bedford

B1042 - Sandy

Blunham Blunham, Tempsford, Little Barford, Everton
A421 - Milton Keynes, Bedford, (M1) Black Cat Roundabout A421 - Milton Keynes, Bedford, (M1)
A428 - Cambridge, St Neots, Eaton Socon A428 - Cambridge, St Neots, Eaton Socon
B645 - Kimbolton

B1048 - St Neots

B645 - St Neots
Little Paxton, St Neots Little Paxton, St Neots
B661 - Kimbolton, Buckden Buckden Roundabout B661 - Kimbolton, Buckden
Brampton, RAF Brampton Brampton, RAF Brampton
A14 - THE MIDLANDS, Kettering, Corby, Huntingdon, (M1), (M6) A14 Junction A14 - THE MIDLANDS, Huntingdon, Harwich, Felixstowe, (M1), (M6)


  1. ^
  2. ^ Roadlists
  3. ^ Chris Marshall (2011). "CBRD » In Depth » Road Numbers » How it happened". Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2011. 
  4. ^ "Memorandum on Route Numbering".  
  5. ^ Thomas Codrington (1903). Roman Roads in Britain – Antonine Itinerary. (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge). Retrieved 23 August 2011. 
  6. ^ Thomas Codrington. "LacusCurtius • Codrington's Roman Roads in Britain — Chapter 4". Retrieved 23 August 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Frank Goddard (2004). Great North Road. Frances Lincoln Ltd. p. 14.  
  8. ^ a b Christopher Hibbert, Ben Weinreb (2009). The London Encyclopedia. Pan Macmillan. p. 343.  
  9. ^ Christopher Hibbert, Ben Weinreb (1983). The London Encyclopedia. Macmillan. p. 541.  
  10. ^ a b Norman W. Webster (1974) The Great North Road
  11. ^ Adams, John (1981). Transport planning, vision and practice.  
  12. ^ "Road Victories" (PDF). Road Block. Archived from the original on 16 February 2008. Retrieved 22 January 2008. 
  13. ^ "A1(M) Hatfield Tunnel Refurbishment". 
  14. ^ "". Hansard. 
  15. ^ "Column: 1180". Hansard. 20 December 1995. Archived from the original on 9 February 2008. Retrieved 20 January 2008. 
  16. ^ The table was drawn up by reading values from the AA Route Planner for the journey Bank of England, London to Waverley Station, Edinburgh via Wittering. Adjustments were made for sections of the route that were not part of the A1."Route planner". AA. Archived from the original on 31 January 2011. Retrieved 15 January 2011. 
  17. ^ "A1(M). Walshford to Dishforth". Retrieved 20 February 2010. 
  18. ^ UK CPI inflation numbers based on data available from Gregory Clark (2014), "What Were the British Earnings and Prices Then? (New Series)" MeasuringWorth.
  19. ^ "A1(M) Alconbury to Peterborough". Highways Agency. 
  20. ^ "Norman Cross Eagle Appeal". Local Heritage Initiative. Archived from the original on 9 February 2008. Retrieved 22 January 2008. 
  21. ^ "A1 expressway opened". 
  22. ^ "A1 dualling hopes dashed"Northumberland Today – . Northumberland Today. 13 July 2006. Retrieved 20 January 2008. 
  23. ^ CBRD » Photo Gallery » Spontaneous Motorway
  24. ^ "Darrington to Dishforth". Highways Agency. p. 1. Retrieved 20 February 2010. 
  25. ^ "A1 Peterborough to Blyth Grade Separated Junctions Scheme". Highways Agency. Retrieved 20 January 2008. 
  26. ^ "Bigger and bigger pricetag". .
  27. ^ "A1(M) Bramham to Wetherby Improvement Scheme". Highways Agency. Archived from the original on 18 January 2008. Retrieved 20 January 2008. 
  28. ^ "A1(M) upgrade in North Yorkshire nears completion – even more motorway for road users". Highways Agency. Archived from the original on 9 February 2008. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  29. ^ "Details emerge of dumped road schemes". Construction Enquirer. Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  30. ^ Autumn Statement 2012. Her Majesty's Stationery Office. 5 December 2012.  
  31. ^ "Autumn Statement: A1 to be upgraded to motorway status". BBC. 
  32. ^ a b "A14 Ellington to Fen Ditton Scheme". Highways Agency. Archived from the original on 31 January 2008. Retrieved 20 January 2008. 
  33. ^ "List of schemes announced".  
  34. ^ "Route of Proposed Sandy/Beeston Bypass" (PDF).  
  35. ^ "Regional Funding Advice – Transport Update" (PDF).  
  36. ^ Highways Agency – A1 Western By-pass
  37. ^ Highways Agency – A1 Elkesley Junctions Improvement
  38. ^ "The Motorway Archive. Oldest, widest, longest, highest.". 2008. Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  39. ^ "A1(M) Bramham to Wetherby". Highways Authority. Archived from the original on 27 June 2010. Retrieved 17 July 2010. 
  40. ^ "A1(M) Wetherby to Walshford". Highways Agency. Archived from the original on 30 August 2008. Retrieved 6 August 2008. 
  41. ^ "A1(M) Bramham to Wetherby". Highways Agency. Archived from the original on 20 August 2008. Retrieved 6 August 2008. 
  42. ^ "A1 Dishforth to Leeming Improvement Scheme (A1 Dishforth to Barton)". Highways Agency. Archived from the original on 1 July 2010. Retrieved 17 July 2010. 
  43. ^ "On the Holloway Road by Andrew Blackman"

External links

  • BiffVernon: A1-The Great North Road
  • (SABRE)Roader's DigestA1 at
  • roadsUK: A1
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