A5 road (Great Britain)

A5 road (Great Britain)

UK road routebox

road= A5
direction= North-west - South-east
start= Marble Arch, Westminster
destinations= St Albans
Milton Keynes
end= Admiralty Arch, Holyhead

The A5 is a major road in the United Kingdom. It is also the first Roman built road in England hence the name Roman Road. It runs for about 260 miles (including sections concurrent with other designations) from London to Holyhead, following in part a section of the Roman Iter II route which later took the Anglo-Saxon name Watling Street.


The history of the A5 begins with Thomas Telford in the early nineteenth century. Following the Act of Union 1800, which unified Great Britain and Ireland, the government saw the need for improving communication links between London and Dublin. A Parliamentary committee led to an Act of Parliament of 1815 that authorised buying out existing turnpike road interests and, where necessary, constructing a new road, to complete the route between the two capitals. This made it the first major civilian state-funded road building project in Britain since Roman times.

Through England, the road largely took over existing turnpike roads, which mainly followed the route of the Anglo-Saxon "Wæcelinga Stræt" (Watling Street), much of which had been historically the Roman road Iter II.

From Shrewsbury and through Wales, Telford's work was more extensive. In places he followed existing roads, but he also built new links, including the Menai Suspension Bridge to connect the mainland with Anglesey and the Stanley Embankment to Holy Island.

Telford's road was complete with the opening of the Menai Suspension Bridge in 1826.

Notable Features

The road was designed to allow stagecoaches to carry post between London and Holyhead, and thence to Ireland. Therefore throughout its length the gradient never exceeds 5%.

The route through Wales retains many of the original features of Telford's road and has, since 1995, been recognised as an historic route worthy of preservation. These features include -

* many surviving and distinctive toll houses
* 'depots' along the route, being roadside alcoves to store grit and materials
* distinctive milestones at each mile - many originals having survived and been restored, others now replaced by replicas
* distinctive gates in a 'sunburst' design, a few of which have survived
* a weighbridge at Lon Isaf, between Bangor and Bethesda

Tŷ Nant Cutting

In 1997, a section of bends on Telford's road between Tŷ Nant and Dinmael, in Wales, was by-passed by a modern cutting. However in 2006, investigations revealed that the rock face in the cutting had become unstable, and the A5 was closed from the end of May 2006 [ [http://new.wales.gov.uk/about/cabinet/cabinetstatements/2006/967635/?lang=en Closure Of A5 Trunk Road Between Ty Nant And Dinmael] ] . Traffic was diverted onto the old A5 route, on a stretch known as the Glyn Bends, whilst the rock face was made safe. This involved the removal of 230,000 tonnes of rock and alluvial deposits. In July 2007, the A5 through the reconstructed cutting was reopened. [ [http://www.jones-bros-ruthin.co.uk/news2.html A5 at Ty Nant reopens ahead of schedule] ]


Starting at Marble Arch in London, the A5 runs north-west up the Edgware Road through Kilburn and Cricklewood. The A5 number disappears near Edgware, but the Roman Road continues as the A5183 through Elstree, Radlett, St Albans and Redbourn, to junction 9 of the M1, where it becomes the A5 again. From there on, it passes through Dunstable, where it crosses and briefly multiplexes with the A505. The stretch through Dunstable is mostly single carriageway with a 30mph speed limit and at-grade pedestrian crossings, and as a result serious traffic jams are frequent on this stretch. North of Dunstable the A5 passes through the village of Hockliffe, before becoming a dual carriageway and bypassing Little Brickhill. After a large roundabout with the A4146, the road becomes a fully grade-separated dual carriageway and passes through Milton Keynes. This stretch, known locally as the 'A5D', was built in 1981 and enabled the older route to be incorporated into the Milton Keynes grid road system. After passing Old Stratford, the dual carriageway ends at a large roundabout with the A508. The single carriageway then continues to pass through Potterspury and then Towcester. After crossing the A43 at a small roundabout, the road accompanies the Grand Union Canal and the M1 Motorway through the Watford Gap. As it passes close to Rugby the road is diverted slightly around the DIRFT complex which was built in 1997. The next phase to the Welsh border takes it through Hinckley before it bypasses the northern fringes of Nuneaton.After this the road formally passed straight through Tamworth, but a dual carriageway bypass has now been provided in a similar vein to the one in Milton Keynes (see above). From this point the road is a dual carriageway up until its junction with the M6 toll. After this junction it passes through Cannock and Telford, where it meets the M54 motorway. It then runs to Shrewsbury and Oswestry before entering Wales just west of Chirk. From the English border, it continues through Llangollen, Corwen, Capel Curig, and Bangor before arriving at Holyhead via a bridge between Wales and Anglesey.

Alternative routes

Parts of the A5 have been replaced by sections of the M1 north of London, the M54 through Telford, the M6, and the M6 Toll. The A55 route in North Wales is now the usual way to get from Chirk to Holyhead, avoiding the mountainous A5 route through Snowdonia and instead going via the much gentler Cheshire gap and along the coast.

Road Safety

In June 2008, a 16km stretch of the A5 between Daventry and Rugby was named as the most dangerous road in the East Midlands. [ [http://www.eurorap.org/library/pdfs/20080627_GB_High_RISK_Regional.pdf Highest risk road sections in each UK Government Office Region (2004-2006)] ] This single carriageway stretch had 15 fatal and serious injury collisions between 2004 and 2006, and was rated as Red -- the second highest risk band -- in the EuroRAP report publish by the Road Safety Foundation.


* Quartermaine "et al" (2003) "Thomas Telford's Holyhead Road: The A5 in North Wales", Council for British Archaeology ISBN 1-902771-34-6

ee also

*A5 road (Isle of Man)
*A5 road (Northern Ireland)

External links

* [http://www.sabre-roads.org.uk/roadlists/f99/5.shtml Society for All British Road Enthusiasts entry for the A5]
* [http://www.road-to-nowhere.co.uk/route-guides/A5/ Road to Nowhere: A5]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/2873107.stm Nesscliffe bypass opened 21 March 2003.]
* [http://www.milestonesweb.com/features/telford.htm Milestonesweb entry]
* [http://www.eurorap.org/ EuroRAP GB Tracking Survey Results 2008]
* [http://www.roadsafetyfoundation.com/ Road Safety Foundation]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • A2 road (Great Britain) — Infobox road marker state= highway name= A2 name notes= start=City of London end=Dover alternate name= maint=Highways Agency section= map custom=yes length mi= length round= length ref= length notes= established= decommissioned= direction a=… …   Wikipedia

  • A1 road (Great Britain) — UK road routebox road= A1 length mi= 409 length km= 658 direction= South North start= City of London destinations= Watford Hemel Hempstead St Albans Hatfield Hertford Stevenage Bedford Huntingdon Cambridge Peterborough Stamford Grantham Newark on …   Wikipedia

  • A80 road (Great Britain) — UK road routebox road= A80 length mi= length km= direction= West East start= Glasgow destinations= end= Stirling construction date= completion date= junctions= The A80 is a trunk road in Scotland, linking Glasgow to Stirling. The road, which has… …   Wikipedia

  • A24 road (Great Britain) — UK road routebox road= A24 length mi= length km= direction= North east South west start= Clapham destinations= Sutton Dorking Horsham end= Worthing construction date= completion date= junctions= ukmotorwaysmall|25 ukroadsmall|25 ukroadsmall|27… …   Wikipedia

  • Road Casualties Great Britain — (RCGB), formerly Road Accidents Great Britain (RAGB) is the official statistical publication of the UK Department for Transport (DfT) on traffic casualties, fatalities and related road safety data. It is a primary source for data on road… …   Wikipedia

  • Great Britain at the 1912 Summer Olympics — Great Britain at the Olympic Games Flag of the United Kingdom – Fl …   Wikipedia

  • Great Britain national rugby league team game results (1960–1979) — Main article: Great Britain national rugby league team Year Winning Team Losing Team Scoreline Ground 1979 New Zealand Great Britain …   Wikipedia

  • Great Britain national rugby league team game results (1940–1959) — Main article: Great Britain national rugby league team Year Winning Team Losing Team Scoreline Ground 1959 Great Britain Australia …   Wikipedia

  • Great Britain national rugby league team game results (1991 and beyond) — Main article: Great Britain national rugby league team Year Winning Team Losing Team Scoreline Ground 2007 Great Britain …   Wikipedia

  • Great Britain at the 2004 Summer Olympics — Infobox Olympics Great Britain games=2004 Summer competitors=271 sports=22 flagbearer=Kate Howey (opening) Kelly Holmes (closing) gold=9 silver=9 bronze=12 total=30 rank=10Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the name under which the United… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.