Opening booklets

Nobody celebrates a new road these days. There's no fanfare, no mementos for the locals to keep. There's only sometimes a ribbon to cut, and a distinct shortage of little bronze plaques. And, of course, there's no glossy booklets to record what an achievement it all was.

Partly this is because it isn't an achievement: we've built a lot of roads in the last century and it's not a big thing any more. And partly it's because roads just aren't something to celebrate any more. Today new roads are often opened quietly for fear of a backlash, as if building a road gives civil servants a guilty conscience and the whole thing is better forgotten.

Until the 1970s, though, someone would usually issue a booklet of some kind to mark the opening ceremony of a new road - whether that was the Ministry of Transport, a local council or sometimes even just one of the companies involved in building it.

This part of the site lets you see just what was in them - rare, archive photos of newly-opened roads that have changed beyond all recognition and, just sometimes, a glimpse of what was planned at the time but never saw the light of day.

Page 1 of 12

Add new comment

About text formats

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
All comments posted to Roads.org.uk are moderated before appearing online. Your comment won't be visible immediately.

In this section

What's new

Up for adoption

For most people, highway maintenance is not a day to day concern. But not every road is the responsibility of the local council. What if your street is “unadopted"?

Gifts for road lovers

Keep being asked what you want for Christmas? No problem: here’s our pick of road-related Christmas treats for 2021.

Go west! New Ringways pages are here

A new set of Ringways pages are now online, looking at unbuilt motorways and road projects west of London.

Share this page

Have you seen...

Clear and legible

A century ago, one short memorandum issued by the Ministry of Transport laid the groundwork for a system of standardised, uniform road signs and a great deal more.