A3 road

A3 road

UK road routebox
road= A3
direction= North east- South west
start= City of London
destinations= Kingston upon Thames
end= Portsmouth Harbour
junctions= ukmotorwaysmall|25

The A3, known as the Portsmouth Road for much of its length, is a trunk road in Southern England, connecting London to Portsmouth.


The historic Portsmouth Road once had great strategic significance as the major link between the capital city and one of its major sea ports. Many of the towns and villages that it passed through gained income and prestige as a result — such as Kingston upon Thames, Esher, Guildford, Godalming, Haslemere and Petersfield. The modern A3 follows the general route of the Portsmouth Road, but bypasses many of the towns and villages along the way, leaving the various stretches of the old Portsmouth Road for local traffic — for instance, the A307 through Esher, also known as the Portsmouth Road. For some of its length, the road follows a similar line to the Portsmouth Direct Line railway, although one of the major exceptions is that the A3 does not go through or closely bypass Havant.

However, a programme of road improvements starting in the 1920s transformed the road so that is now predominantly a two or three lane dual carriageway, bypassing the town centres, with a section of motorway, the A3(M), just before the road reaches the A27 at Havant. The construction of the Kingston and Guildford bypasses in the 1920s and 1930s made use of temporary narrow gauge railways to move the construction materials. The stretch of road between Guildford and Tolworth is three lanes with a good hard shoulder, and thus almost motorway standard.

The road was once the haunt of highwaymen. For example, the legendary Jerry Abershawe terrorised the area around Kingston and led a gang based at the Bald Faced Stag Inn on the Portsmouth Road. Another particularly dangerous location was in the vicinity of the Devil's Punch Bowl, Hindhead, about 8 miles (13 km) south-west of Guildford.

Future improvements

Today Hindhead is an area better known for being held up in a very different way, by traffic jams. This is because it remains one of the very few stretches of single carriageway on the A3, and is heavily used by commuters. It is estimated that on average this area of road carries 28,400 vehicles per day resulting in long queues build up here, particularly during the morning peak hours. A 1.2 mile (1.8 km) twin bore tunnel bypassing the Devil's Punch Bowl (a Site of Special Scientific Interest) is set to be built, with advanced works beginning in 2007 and the main works to start in 2008. Once complete (target date 2011) the £371 million Hindhead Tunnel will be the longest non-estuarial road tunnel in the UK, and will convert the last remaining single carriageway section of the A3, outside of London and Portsmouth, to dual carriageway. [ [http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/projects/3832.aspx Highways Agency - A3 Hindhead Improvement] ] [ [http://www.gnn.gov.uk/environment/fullDetail.asp?ReleaseID=237687&NewsAreaID=2&NavigatedFromDepartment=False Government News Network - "£371 million A3 improvements will go ahead " - 26/10/2006] ] [ [http://www.tunnels.mottmac.com/projects/?mode=type&id=3402 A3 Hindhead Tunnel - Mott MacDonald Project Page] ]

Cycle paths

There are several shared pedestrian and cycle paths on the A3, although many seem to be very infrequently used. One cycle path links the village of Liss with the town of Petersfield on the Portsmouth-bound side of the A3 Petersfield bypass. However, an alternative cycle route would be the B2070 or 'Old A3' which was the main route from Liphook and Liss to Petersfield before the construction of the bypass. This road is much steeper between Petersfield and Liss, however.

Another links the village of Greatham with West Liss. The path is on the London-bound side, linking to a bridge over the A3 to West Liss. This means cyclists and pedestrians are not required to cross the dual carriageway on foot at the Ham Barn roundabout as would be the case if they went to West Liss on Farnham Rd (the B3006). There is another path on the Portsmouth-bound A3 between Longmoor Rd (near Greatham) and Liphook via Griggs Green.

There is also a cycle path between Greatham and Liphook, and nearer Portsmouth there is a cycle path between Clanfield and the Queen Elizabeth Country Park, a large forest near Petersfield next to the A3. There is, however. no cycle path between Petersfield and the Queen Elizabeth Country Park.

After the Hindhead crossroads, between Thursley and Milford (near Guildford), cycle-crossings of the sliproads have been constructed on both sides of the carriageway for the few cyclists travelling on this dual carriageway.


In Central London, the A3 starts at London Bridge, going south-west along Borough High Street and Newington Causeway to the Elephant and Castle roundabout. It continues along Newington Butts, Kennington Park Road, Clapham Road and Clapham High Street. The road then passes the north side of Clapham Common and through Wandsworth to Wimbledon Common. It bypasses Kingston upon Thames in outer London, where it is known as the Kingston By-pass.

The Kingston By-pass had first been proposed in 1912 but with the advent of World War I plans were shelved. By the early 1920s traffic in Kingston town centre had increased by over 160 per cent in 10 years and the decision was taken to revive the plans. Work finally started in 1924 on what was to become one of the first arterial roads in Britain. As such it was sufficiently important to be opened by no less than the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Stanley Baldwin MP on 28 October 1927. It covered a distance of 8.5 miles (from the Robin Hood Gate of Richmond Park to the outskirts of Esher). The opening ceremony concluded with refreshments provided for 800 invited guests in large marquees near what is now the Merton fly-over.

The construction of the Kingston By-pass immediately attracted developers wishing to build houses where access was already provided. The 1935 Ribbon Development Act came too late to prevent this building, which is especially notable where the A3 winds through Tolworth and New Malden.

Today a traffic black spot during peak hours is just outside London going northbound before the Hook underpass. The road is, before that point, three lanes, yet has to go down to two in order to go in the underpass. The speed limit at this point also changes from 70mph to 50 mph. Also, the traffic from the A309 comes in just before the underpass creating congestion. The traffic is often busy in that section from about 7:50AM to 8:30AM and from 5:15PM to 5:50PM because of the sheer volume of the traffic.


From just north of Horndean southwards the A3 separates from the A3(M) (below) and continues as London Road as far as Hilsea, south of which it is Northern Parade (London Road continues as the A2047). It runs along the west side of Portsea Island, roughly parallel with the M275, into the centre of the town where, after passing the Catholic cathedral, it meets with the A3020. It then continues through Old Portsmouth passing the Anglican cathedral and the old 15th century harbour where it comes to an end.


UK motorway routebox
motorway= A3(M)
length-mi= 5
length-km= 8.5
direction= North - South
start= Horndean
destinations= Portsmouth
end= Bedhampton
opening-date= 1979
completion-date= entire motorway
junctions= none
This section of the road was opened in 1979 [ [http://www.iht.org/motorway/m27scmstat.htm The Motorway Archive - M27 Dates Page] ] and acts as a bypass of the A3 road in this part of Hampshire.


ee also

*Great Britain road numbering scheme
*List of motorways in the United Kingdom
*British industrial narrow gauge railways


External links

* [http://www.cbrd.co.uk/motorway/a3/ CBRD Motorway Database - A3 and A3(M)]
* [http://www.tab-msas.co.uk/photos/a3m.shtml TAB-MSAs: Photos: A3(M)]
* [http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/projects/3832.aspx A3 Hindhead Improvement] – Highways Agency page
* [http://pathetic.org.uk/current/a3m/ Pathetic Motorways - A3(M)]
* [http://www.sabre-roads.org.uk/roadlists/f99/3.shtml Society for All British Road Enthusiasts entry for the A3]
* [http://www.tunnels.mottmac.com/projects/?mode=type&id=3402 A3 Hindhead Tunnel - Mott MacDonald Project Page]

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