Road Numbers

There is nothing straightforward about the seemingly simple business of giving roads a number.

Road numbers have been with us for more than a century now. These pages explore the alphanumeric designations of the UK’s roads in detail, covering the detailed rules for allocating A- and B-roads and the multiple confusing systems used to number motorways.

Then, we step back in time to see how we ended up with road numbers in the first place, and how they were first applied over a hundred years ago. You can also read a very enjoyable account of the numbering scheme, written back when it was still something of a novelty.

Celebrating 100 years of road numbers

From A1 to B9993, the system that has put every number in its place for over a hundred years.

M-numbers and A(M) numbers, and the confusing mish-mash of overlapping systems that allocate them.

A deep dive into the numbers that are misplaced, lost, recycled, invented, duplicated, nonsensical, mistaken or just plain wrong.

One hundred years ago a numbering system was produced that's still with us today. How did it work - and why was it done in the first place?

In autumn 1934 a journalist turned up at the Ministry of Transport hoping to gather some information for an article about road numbering. This is what he wrote.

Page 1 of 6

Picture credits

  • The photograph of the C14 signs appears courtesy of Mike Burns.

In this section

What's new

We need to talk about Wisley

National Highways are spending a third of a billion pounds rebuilding one of the most congested junctions on the M25. Is it money well spent?

Oxford's Ground Zero

Oxford's Zero Emission Zone is just a trial, but transport policy in Oxford has become the catalyst for pitched battles and drawn in protestors from across the UK. What's happening to this genteel university town?

2023 end of year message

It’s been a quiet year for, but we will be back to our usual schedule soon.

Share this page

Have you seen...

Harry Yeadon

A civil engineer, working principally in the North West of England, responsible for many of the area's motorways.

About this page


Last updated