Opening booklets:
Western Avenue Extension

Booklet published to mark the opening of the Western Avenue Extension
Booklet published to mark the opening of the Western Avenue Extension

The Western Avenue Extension - opened as A40(M), now part of the A40 - is known to everyone by its official name, Westway. Celebrated and loathed in equal measure, this elevated motorway snaking through the rooftops of West London has never been made to feel particularly welcome by its neighbours.

Not that you'd know that from the book that was published to mark its opening. This booklet describes the exciting motorway programme for London - of which this was effectively the first part, and of which almost none of the rest was ever built. Published by the Cement and Concrete Association, it perhaps predictably concentrates on the engineering and construction of the road, with lots of diagrams of the various structures that support it. If you want to build your own Westway, the diagrams you need are in here. What is missing is almost any sign of interest or acknowledgement of the huge scar that was cut through residential districts to make way for it.

It's a fascinating read all the same, not just for its single-minded determination - after all, it's celebrating what is, undeniably, an extraordinary feat of engineering and a unique road - but also for the unshakeable feeling of optimism and progress that shines through every page. Nobody writes about roads like this any more.

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Sir James Drake

County Surveyor and Bridgemaster for Lancashire in the 1950s and 60s, Drake was instrumental in the motorway revolution.

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Published27 June 2018

Last updated6 April 2022