Opening booklets:
M602 Eccles Bypass

Booklet published to mark the opening of the first stage of the M602
Booklet published to mark the opening of the first stage of the M602

Back in the 1960s, Greater Manchester - then usually referred to as "SELNEC", a clunky agglomeration of "South East Lancashire and North East Cheshire" - had grand ambitions for an urban motorway network serving the twin cities of Manchester and Salford and their numerous satellite towns. The routes proposed in the 1962 SELNEC Highway Plan were so numerous that the Ministry of Transport didn't think there were enough vacant motorway numbers to go around.

It was this realisation that caused the agreement that Manchester (and, later, other cities) could use three-digit motorway numbers. And that, in turn, led to this route in the west of the urban area losing its original number of M64. By the time it opened it had become the M602.

Most of Manchester's urban motorway network never happened, and there are still enough free numbers to go around, so the M602 never really needed its extra-long number. It was never joined by the planned M601 or any other three-digit motorways anywhere nearby (though there is an M606 in Bradford). The M602 itself never made it all the way in to central Manchester, and the other motorways it would have met had it been completed are mostly also missing. But here is a fine slice of 1960s optimism for what was, at that time, one of Lancashire County Council's first bold steps in attempting to build a thrilling future for Greater Manchester as a motoring metropolis.

Picture credits

  • "Eccles By-Pass M.602 and Interchange with M.62 and M.63" (1971) is Crown Copyright and subject to OGL; scans appear here courtesy of John.

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