Looking north towards junction 37 on one of the few stretches that remains 3 lanes, as was originally built.
|Part of |
|Maintained by Highways England|
|Length||193.5 mi (311.4 km)|
|South end|| Staples Corner, London (A406)|
J6a → M25 motorway
J17 → M45 motorway
J19 → M6 motorway
J21 → M69 motorway
J32 → M18 motorway
J42 → M62 motorway
J43 → M621 motorway
|North end||Hook Moor, West Yorkshire (A1(M))|
|Counties||Greater London, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire|
| London |
The M1 motorway connects London to Leeds, where it joins the A1(M) near Aberford, to connect to Newcastle. It was the first inter-urban motorway to be completed in the UK;the first motorway in the country was the Preston By-pass, which later became part of the M6.
The motorway is 193 miles (311 km) long and was constructed in four phases. Most of the motorway was opened between 1959 and 1968. The southern end was extended in 1977 and the northern end was extended in 1999. It forms part of the unsigned European route E13.
There had been plans before the Second World War for a motorway network in the United Kingdom. Lord Montagu formed a company to build a 'motorway like road' from London to Birmingham in 1923,but it was a further 26 years before the Special Roads Act 1949 was passed, which allowed for the construction of roads limited to specific vehicle classifications, and in the 1950s, the country's first motorways were given the government go-ahead.
The first section of motorway was the Preston Bypass in Lancashire, now part of the M6 motorway, which opened in 1958.The M1 was Britain's first full-length motorway and opened in 1959. The early M1 had no speed limits, crash barriers, or lighting, and had soft shoulders rather than hard.
The first section of the motorway, between Junction 5 (Watford) and Junction 18 (Crick/Rugby), opened on 1 November 1959, together with the motorway's two spurs, the M10 (from Junction 7 to south of St Albans originally connecting to the A1) and the M45 (from Junction 17 to the A45 and Coventry). Parts of the Hertfordshire section were built using steam rollers.
The M1 was officially inaugurated from Slip End (close to Luton), celebrated by a large concrete slabon the bridge next to the village, with inscription "London-Yorkshire Motorway – This slab was sealed by the Rt Hon Harold Watkinson M.P. – Minister of Transport – Inauguration Day – 24th March 1958". It was relocated, during widening works in 2007–08, to the eastern side of junction 10.
This section of the M1 broadly follows the route of the A5 north-west. It started at the Watford Bypass (A41), which runs south-east to meet the A1 at Apex corner, and ended on the A5 at Crick. The M10 spur motorway connected the M1 to the North Orbital Road (A405/A414, a precursor of the M25) where it also met the A5 (now renumbered here as the A5183) and, 2 miles (3.2 km) to the east via the A414, the A6, which subsequently became part of the M25.
Although the whole of the first section opened in 1959, it was built in two parts, with the northern part (Junctions 10 to 18) being built by John Laingand the southern part (the St Albans Bypass) being built by Tarmac Construction.
The continuation of the motorway from Junction 18 towards Yorkshire was carried out as a series of extensions between 1965 and 1968. Diverging from the A5, the motorway takes a more northerly route through the East Midlands, via Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham to Sheffield, where the M18 splits from the M1 at Junction 32 to head to Doncaster.
Originally, the M1 was planned to end at Doncaster but it was decided to make what was going to be the "Leeds and Sheffield Spur" into the primary route, with the 11-mile (18 km) section to the A1(M) south of Doncaster given the separate motorway number M18.
From Junction 32, the motorway passes Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Wakefield, reaching the original end of the motorway at (the original) Junction 44 to the east of Leeds. There were plans to route the M1 from just south of Junction 42, where it interchanges with the M62, round the west of Leeds to the A1 at Dishforth. The chosen route passes to the east of Leeds. With the M62 and M621, the M1 forms a ring of motorways around the south of Leeds.
In 1972, an extension of the M1 was opened into central Leeds as the Leeds South Eastern Motorway, where it met the Leeds South Western Motorway (M621) coming north-east from the M62 at Junction 3.
In July 1972, the then UK Minister for Transport Industries, John Peyton, announced that 86 miles (138 km) of UK motorway particularly prone to fog would benefit from lighting in a project that "should be" completed by 1973. Sections to be illuminated included the M1 between Junctions 3 and 14, and between Junctions 16 and 24. In August 2011, the Highways Agency announced that, despite being converted to Smart Motorway status, the lights will be switched off on stretches of the motorway between Junctions 10 (Luton) and 15 (Northampton) without affecting road user safety. The motorway junctions and their approaches, and a section of the M1 on either side of Junction 11 (north Luton), would have lighting columns replaced and remain lit. All lighting columns from Junctions 10 to 14 were removed completely, apart from some on slip roads. But as more and more of the motorway is upgraded to Smart Motorway status, carriageway lighting columns are increasingly being completely removed, save for
An increasing official interest in secondary safety was evident in an announcement in March 1973 that work would begin shortly on erecting "tensioned safety barriers" along the central reservation of a 34-mile (55 km) section of the M1 between Kegworth (J24) and Barlborough (J30).
Between 1996 and 1999, the M1 section north of the M62 underwent a major reconstruction and extension to take the M1 on a new route to the A1(M) at Aberford. The new road involved the construction of a series of new junctions, bridges and viaducts to the east of Leeds. When the new section of M1 was completed and opened on 4 February 1999,the Leeds South Eastern Motorway section of the M1 was re-designated as the M621, and the junctions were given new numbers: M621 Junctions 4 to 7.
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The M1 was extended south towards London from its original starting point at Junction 5, in three stages. The first stage, opened in 1966, took the motorway south-east, parallel to the A41, to meet the A5 at junction 4 south of Elstree. The second phase continued east to Scratchwood (London Gateway Services occupies the location of the missing junction 3 from where an unbuilt spur would have connected to the A1 at Stirling Corner to the north-east). The M1 then runs south alongside the Midland Main Line towards Hendon, where it meets the A1 again at Junction 2 via a tightly curved flyover section. These flyovers connecting from the A1 were originally both for northbound traffic: the left one as the on-ramp to the M1, the right one going over the A1/A41 junction beneath to rejoin the A1 northbound.
Junction 2 is about 2.5 miles (4 km) south of the original Junction 3. Before the completion of Junction 2, southbound traffic left the motorway via a slip road which passed around the back of the now disused Homebase and under the A41/A1 Mill Hill Bypass, and looped round to join it at Fiveways Interchange. This slip road is still visible to southbound traffic approximately 650 yards (590 m) before Junction 2, and was maintained until the early 2000s, even though not accessible to traffic. The northbound slip road from the A1 is now partially used as the entrance way to a retail park and was once carried by bridge, but no longer reaches the northbound carriageway, because it is cut off by the motorway continuing south.
The final section of the M1 was opened to Junction 1 at Staples Corner in 1977. There the motorway meets the North Circular Road (A406) at a grade separated junction and roundabout. Unrealised plans from the 1960s would have seen the motorway continue through the junction on an elevated roadway to end at West Hampstead, where it would have met the North Cross Route, the northern section of the London Motorway Box, a proposed ring of urban motorway around the central area. The layout of the Staples Corner junction was originally built in accordance with those plans, although most of the London Ringways Plan had been cancelled by 1973. Around the same time, the section between the then-M10 and Junction 5 was widened from the original two lanes to three.
On its completion, the M1 acted as a fast link road between London and Birmingham via the M6. It also provided a link to London Luton Airport for those regions, and its proximity to the site of the Milton Keynes new town (designated in 1967) meant that it was soon providing a vital transport link to another major area.
In 2006, plans were published for the widening of 91 miles (146 km) from Leicester through to Leeds (Junctions 21–42) to four lanes each way.
Escalating costs across the whole of the Highways Agency programme, including the M1 project, on which costs had risen to £5.1 billion, as well as increasing opposition to major road expansion, as well as criticisms by the Transport Select Committee and the National Audit Office, led to wide-ranging re-assessments of the Agency's project costs. Widening was scaled back to the Junctions 6A to 10 scheme that was already in progress, and from Nottingham and Mansfield (Junctions 25–28), and hard shoulder running was to be used for other sections.
Many later developments, including Smart Motorway schemes, have been made to the M1, and these are detailed below.
The route of the Dunstable Northern Bypass proposal and route options for the connecting Luton Northern Bypass.
|Status||Completed (summer 2017)|
|Cost estimate||£171 million to £217 million|
The A5-M1 Link (Dunstable Northern Bypass) is a two-lane dual carriageway running east from the A5 north of Dunstable joining the M1 at a new Junction 11a south of Chalton. km Woodside Link to connect the new junction 11a to the industrial areas of Dunstable and Houghton Regis. Most of the road opened to traffic in autumn 2016 with the remaining section connecting to junction 11a.Here, it is intended to join with a proposed Luton Northern Bypass to form a northern bypass for the wider conurbation. The A5-M1 Link aims to alleviate traffic congestion in Houghton Regis and Dunstable, reduce journey times for long-distance traffic travelling through Dunstable and improve the regional economy. The Highways Agency detrunked the A5 through Dunstable when the A5-M1 Link opened to the public in May 2017. As part of the Dunstable Town Centre Masterplan, Central Bedfordshire Council built the 2.9
There is a proposal to widen the M1 to dual 4-lane or dual 5-lane between Junctions 21 and 21a and construct a new link road between the M1 and the M69. During this work the Leicester Forest East services would be closed, and possibly relocated. As of April 2020 [update] , work on this scheme has still not begun.Consultation took place in 2007.
Following the report of a public inquiry in March 2013, the Secretary of State for Transport announced on 18 July 2013 that work to update the Catthorpe Interchange at junction 19, between the M1 motorway, M6 motorway and A14 road close to Catthorpewould go ahead. Work on the £191 million three-layer interchange started in January 2014 and the scheme was fully opened to traffic in December 2016.
Work began on the 10-mile (16 km) section between the M25 and Luton (Junctions 6A and 10) in 2006 and opened in 2009, which included the construction of new parallel collector-distributor lanes between Junctions 7 and 8.
The M10 spur was built as a motorway because it inevitably led to the M1, but as non-motorway traffic could now travel between the A414 at Hemel Hempstead and Park Street Roundabout without having to access the M1, the M10 was downgraded to an A road, and designated as part of the A414 to allow for this. The widening or replacement of eleven underbridges on one or both carriageways, and replacing seven overbridges million. A variable mandatory speed limit system was installed, making this the first Smart Motorway scheme on the M1.at a cost of £294
Work to introduce dynamic hard shoulder running on approximately 15 miles (24 km) of motorway between Luton and Milton Keynes (J10-13) was completed in December 2012, at a total cost of £327 million. This made the hard shoulder available to be opened as a traffic lane where additional capacity was necessary. Modifications were made to Junctions 11 and 12, to allow for four lanes running through each junction, and the A421 road from Junction 13 to the Bedford southern bypass was also upgraded to two lanes each way during this period. The scheme will likely be converted to all lane running at some point in the 2020 decade, alongside all other dynamic hard shoulder running schemes. This was because a Government review into smart motorways found dynamic hard shoulder running was too confusing for drivers, leading to plans to convert all dynamic hard shoulders into permanent running lanes.
Work to widen the 15-mile (24 km) section from Nottingham to Mansfield (J25-J28) to four lanes each way began in January 2008 and was completed in 2010, at a cost of £340 million. A 50 mph limit, enforced by average speed cameras, was imposed for the period of construction, but it proved to be so effective that a permanent variable mandatory speed limit system was installed.
Plans to dual the A421 from Junction 13 to Milton Keynes and to add capacity from Junction 10a on the Luton spur are being developed.There are plans to reduce speed between M1 junctions 33 to 34, by Rotherham to 60mph, to reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide. The plans are to be implemented before October 2020 and the trial period is expected to last from 12 to 15 months.
|M1 motorway junctions|
|mile||km||Southbound exits (B carriageway)||Junction||Northbound exits (A carriageway)||Coordinates|
|7.0||11.3||North Circular (West), Brent Cross, Wembley, Hanger Lane, (A406 West)||J1|
|Start of motorway|
|Central London (The City), Holloway |
North Circular (A406)(E) A1
|12.0||19.3||London Gateway services||Services||London Gateway services|
|Harrow, Edgware A41||J4||No access|
| A41 |
|North Watford A405||J6||(M25 East)|
St Albans A405
| M25 |
|St Albans, Hatfield A414||J7||No access|
|Hemel Hempstead A414||J8||Hemel Hempstead A414|
|St Albans (N) A5183||J9||Redbourn A5183|
|Luton (S) & Airport ||J10|| Luton (S) & Airport |
|Luton (C), Dunstable (C) A505||J11||Luton (C), Dunstable (C) A505|
| Aylesbury A5, (A505) |
Dunstable (N), Luton A5505
|J11A||Aylesbury A5, (A505)|
Dunstable (N), Luton A5505
|38.9||62.6||Toddington services||Services||Toddington services|
|Flitwick, Westoning A5120||J12||Flitwick, Westoning A5120|
|Steppingley A507||J12A||Steppingley A507|
| Bedford A421 |
Woburn, Ampthill A507
|J13||Bedford, Milton Keynes (South) A421|
|Milton Keynes, Newport Pagnell A509||J14||Milton Keynes, Newport Pagnell A509|
|53.7||86.5||Newport Pagnell services||Services||Newport Pagnell services|
| Northampton, Wellingborough A45 |
|J15||Northampton, Wellingborough A45|
| Oxford A43 (M40) |
Northampton (W) A43
|Northampton (W) A4500||J16||Daventry A45|
|75.1||120.8||Watford Gap services||Services||Watford Gap services|
|No access||J17||Coventry (S) M45|
|Daventry A428 (A361) DIRFT||J18|| Hinckley A5 |
Rugby, DIRFT (A428)
|Felixstowe, Kettering A14||J19|
|The North West |
Coventry, Birmingham M6
| Lutterworth A4303 |
Market Harborough A4304
| Coventry, Birmingham M69 (M6)|
|97.7||157.2||Leicester Forest East services||Services||Leicester Forest East services|
|No access||J21a||Leicester (N), Newark A46|
|Leicester A50, Coalville A511||J22||Ashby, Coalville A511|
|Loughborough, Shepshed A512||J23||Loughborough, Shepshed A512|
|The South West, Tamworth, Birmingham, A42 (M42)||J23a |
| East Midlands |
| Nottingham, East Midlands |
|J24|| Stoke A50|
Nottingham (S) A453
|Nottingham, Derby A52||J25||Derby, Nottingham A52|
|124.1||199.8||Trowell services||Services||Trowell services|
|Nottingham A610||J26||Ripley, Nottingham A610|
|Heanor, Hucknall A608||J27||Mansfield A608|
|Derby A38 |
|138.3||222.5||Tibshelf services||Services||Tibshelf services|
|Mansfield A617 |
|Markham Vale A6192 |
|J29a||Markham Vale A6192|
|J30|| Sheffield (S) A6135 |
|151.3||243.5||Woodall services||Services||Woodall services|
|Worksop A57||J31||Sheffield (SE), Rotherham (S) A57|
|The North, Doncaster, Hull M18||J32|
|The North, Doncaster, Hull, Rotherham (E) M18|
|Sheffield (C), Rotherham (C) A630||J33||Sheffield (C), Rotherham (C) A630|
|Sheffield (E), Rotherham (C), Meadowhall A6109:||J34||Sheffield (E), Rotherham (C), Meadowhall A6178:|
|Rotherham (N) A629||J35||Rotherham (N) A629|
|No access||J35a||Manchester A616|
|Sheffield (N), Barnsley A61||J36||Barnsley (S) A61|
|Barnsley, Manchester A628||J37||Manchester, Barnsley A628|
|Huddersfield A637||J38||Huddersfield A637|
|178.5||287.2||Woolley Edge services||Services||Woolley Edge services|
|Denby Dale A636||J39||Wakefield A636|
|Wakefield, Dewsbury A638||J40||Dewsbury, Wakefield A638|
|Wakefield, Morley A650||J41||Wakefield A650|
|Hull, Pontefract, Manchester, Bradford M62||J42|
|Manchester, Bradford, Leeds Bradford |
|No access||J43||Leeds M621|
|Leeds A639 |
|J44||Leeds (S) A639|
|Leeds A63||J45||Leeds (SE) A63 |
Leeds Skelton Lake services
|Leeds (E) A6120||J46||Leeds (E), Leeds/Bradford |
| Castleford A656 |
The South (A1(M))
|197.7||318.1||Start of motorway||A1(M), J43|
|The North, Wetherby A1(M) |
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi|
The M25 or London Orbital Motorway is a major road encircling almost all of Greater London, England. The Dartford Crossing (A282) is part of the orbital route but is not part of the motorway. The M25 is one of the most important roads in Britain and one of the busiest. The final section was opened by the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1986; on opening it was the longest ring road in Europe at 117 miles (188 km).
The M60 motorway, Manchester Ring Motorway or Manchester Outer Ring Road is an orbital motorway in North West England. Built over a 40-year period, it passes through most of Greater Manchester's metropolitan boroughs except for Wigan and Bolton. Most of Manchester is encompassed within the motorway, except for the southernmost part of the city which is served by the M56.
The M4, originally the London-South Wales Motorway, is a motorway in the United Kingdom running from west London to southwest Wales. The English section to the Severn Bridge was constructed between 1961 and 1971, and the Welsh element was completed in 1993. On the opening of the Second Severn Crossing in 1996, the M4 was rerouted over it.
The A1 is the longest numbered road in the UK, at 410 miles (660 km). It connects London, the capital of England, with Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. It passes through or near North London, Hatfield, Welwyn Garden City, Stevenage, Baldock, Letchworth Garden City, Huntingdon, Peterborough, Stamford, Grantham, Newark-on-Trent, Retford, Doncaster, York, Ripon, Darlington, Durham, Sunderland, Gateshead, Newcastle upon Tyne, Alnwick and Berwick-upon-Tweed.
The M40 motorway links London, Oxford and Birmingham in England, a distance of approximately 89 miles (143 km).
The M62 is a 107-mile-long (172 km) west–east trans-Pennine motorway in Northern England, connecting Liverpool and Hull via Manchester and Leeds; 7 miles (11 km) of the route is shared with the M60 orbital motorway around Manchester. The road is part of the unsigned Euroroutes E20 and E22.
The M2 is a motorway in Kent, England. It is 26 miles (42 km) long and acts as a bypass of the section of the A2 road to run past the Medway Towns, Sittingbourne, Faversham, and to provide an alternative route to the Port of Dover, supplementing the M20. It feeds into the A2(M) - the motorway section of the A2 - forming a 62 mile long motorway from London to (almost) Dover.
The A38, parts of which are known as Devon Expressway, Bristol Road and Gloucester Road, is a major A-class trunk road in England.
The M5 is a motorway in the United Kingdom linking the Midlands with South West England. It runs from junction 8 of the M6 at West Bromwich near Birmingham to Exeter in Devon. Heading southwest, the M5 runs east of West Bromwich and west of Birmingham through Sandwell Valley. It continues past Bromsgrove, Droitwich Spa, Worcester, Tewkesbury, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Bristol, Weston-super-Mare, Bridgwater, Taunton, terminating at junction 31 for Exeter. Congestion on the section south of the M4 is common during the summer holidays, on Friday afternoons and bank holidays.
The M20 is a motorway in Kent, England. It follows on from the A20 at Swanley, meeting the M25, and continuing on to Folkestone, providing a link to the Channel Tunnel and the ports at Dover. It is 50.6 miles (81.4 km) long. Although not signposted in England, this road is part of the European route E15.
The A66 is a major road in Northern England, which in part follows the course of the Roman road from Scotch Corner to Penrith. It runs from east of Middlesbrough in the ceremonial county of North Yorkshire to Workington in Cumbria. It is anomalously numbered since west of Penrith it trespasses into numbering zone 5; this is because it originally terminated at the A6 in Penrith but was extended further west in order to create one continuous east–west route. Most of what is now the A66 west of Penrith was originally A594 – only a small stub of this road numbering remains, from Maryport to Cockermouth.
The A14 is a trunk road in England, running 127 miles (204 km) from the Port of Felixstowe, Suffolk to its western end at the Catthorpe Interchange; a major intersection at the southern end of the M6 and junction 19 of the M1 in Leicestershire. The road forms part of the unsigned Euroroutes E24 and E30.
The A12 is a major road in England. It runs north-east / south-west between London and the coastal town of Lowestoft in the north-eastern corner of Suffolk, following a similar route to the Great Eastern Main Line. A section of the road between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth became part of the A47 in 2017. Between the junctions with the M25 and the A14, the A12 forms part of the unsigned Euroroute E30. Unlike most A roads, this section of the A12, together with the A14 and the A55, has junction numbers as if it were a motorway.
The M7 motorway is a motorway in Ireland. The motorway runs continuously from the outskirts of Naas in County Kildare to Rossbrien on the outskirts of Limerick City. The M7 forms part of the Dublin to Limerick N7 national primary road. The section of the motorway bypassing Naas, an 8 km stretch, was the first section of motorway to open in the Republic of Ireland, in 1983. Following substantial works to extend the M7 to Limerick; by the end of 2010, the motorway replaced all of the old single-carriageway N7 route which is now designated as R445. At 166.5 km, the M7 is the longest motorway in Ireland.
For other roads with the same name see List of A21 roads.
The A63 is a major road in Yorkshire, England between Leeds and Kingston upon Hull. A section between South Cave and Hull forms the eastward continuation of the M62 motorway and is part of the unsigned Euroroute E20.
A dual carriageway or divided highway is a class of highway with carriageways for traffic travelling in opposite directions separated by a central reservation. Roads with two or more carriageways which are designed to higher standards with controlled access are generally classed as motorways, freeways, etc., rather than dual carriageways.
A1(M) is the designation given to a series of four separate motorway sections in England. Each section is an upgrade to a section of the A1, a major north–south road, which connects London, the capital of England, with Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. The first section, the Doncaster Bypass, opened in 1961 and is one of the oldest sections of motorway in Britain. Construction of a new section of A1(M) between Leeming and Barton was completed on 29 March 2018, a year later than the anticipated opening in 2017 due to extensive archaeological excavations. Its completion linked the Barton to Washington section with the Darrington to Leeming Bar section, forming the longest A1(M) section overall and reducing the number of sections from five to four.
The A505 is an A-class road in England. It follows part of the route of the Icknield Way and the corresponding Icknield Way Path and runs from Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire to the A11, Cambridgeshire near Abington and Sawston. Being built in the East of England countryside, the majority of the road is flat, and some of the road is raised.
The A556 is a road in England which extends from the village of Delamere in Cheshire West and Chester to the Bowdon Interchange in Cheshire East, bordering Greater Manchester. The road contains a mixture of single and dual carriageway sections and forms a large part of the route between Manchester and Chester. It also acts as a major access route to Chester/North Wales to the west & to Manchester to the east for the conurbation of towns and villages around the Dane Valley centering on Winsford and Northwich, the central part which forms the Northwich Bypass Between Davenham and Lostock Gralam suffers because of the sheer amount of commuter traffic from this area. The part of the route between the M6 motorway junction 19 and the M56 motorway junction 7 is a major route into Manchester and has been recently upgraded to a four-lane dual carriageway.
Temporary cameras installed for widening road works between Junctions 25 and 28 have proved so effective they will stay, it has been confirmed.
Eyewitnesses say the accident happened after a military transporter jack-knifed and scattered armoured vehicles across the carriageway