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.

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Comments

Geoff Whiley 13 April 2022

M25: As interesting as the brick-like carphone's £899 price tag (*small print: + VAT etc.!), are BT's and as publishers, DoT/CoI's apparent endorsement of 70 mph motorway driving, one hand on wheel, other hand holding it to ear, eyes looking - where? At least he's remembered clunk/click but if there's a collision: handset/face... cord/neck...!

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In this section

What's new

South London's lost motorways

Completing the story of London's epic Ringways, we've just published the Southern Radials, five more motorways that never saw the light of day.

To the north east!

Two new additions to our collection of Opening Booklets take us to Darlington and Middlesbrough.

The ghost junction

The only UK motorway that didn’t connect to ordinary roads finally got its own interchange in 2019. But it's not open, because it still doesn’t touch any ordinary roads.

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Have you seen...

Croydon Ring Road

Common sense suggests that you shouldn't be able to spend so much money on heavy engineering and end up with such a terrible road system.

About this page

Published27 January 2018

Last updated6 April 2022