M1 - M6 - A14

Catthorpe Interchange

Where is it?

M1 junction 19. An indescribably important junction where the main route north from London, the M1, splits to the M1 and M6 for routes to the north east and north west, and on to Scotland. The A14 also ends here, a vital east-west link which exchanges lots of traffic with the M1 and M6 — it's almost a direct eastward extension of the M6.

The junction has been rebuilt since it entered Bad Junctions, which has fixed the problems described here. The text below was written about the previous layout which ceased operation in 2016.

What's wrong with it?

Well, just look at it, it's a joke! The M1 and M6 have had a simple fork here since the 1970's; when the A14 arrived in the 1990's, the junction wasn't so much adapted as worked around. The local Catthorpe — Swinford road that passed quietly under the junction was appropriated and now takes all the A14's traffic under the M1. The two tiny little roundabouts are no way to end a motorway-standard road, and the short drive up an unclassified road to reach the M6 is shameful.

Why is it wrong?

The A14 is a road built recently and on the cheap. It is mostly cobbled together from other roads, with just a few new built bits and a couple of junctions modified. The money was probably not available to do anything more with this junction, especially considering the cost and chaos of diverting the course of the M6 or M1. However, the cost is increased now that an even bigger junction must be remodelled — yes, this one will be rebuilt some time soon.

What would be better?

Anything but this. Except perhaps a signalised roundabout with priority bus lane. The plans proposed generally involve making it an all-access junction, with some links free-flowing and a roundabout underneath to do everything else, which is a pretty sound plan. The only worry is if the Catthorpe — Swinford road is removed from the junction. If that happens, where does non-motorway traffic — which has a legal right to use the A14 — go from here?


Right to reply

Alex Smith 22 October 2015

There's apparently a plan in place for non-motorway traffic that ignores the warnings telling them to leave at junction 1 (perhaps due to some sense of entitlement to use the right of way) to be directed to a layby near the junction, from where they can phone the police to escort them to safety (perhaps through emergency access gates). Inefficient, but it seems unlikely that non-motorway traffic other than learner drivers (who can just swap places with the accompanying driver in the layby) will manage to make it 8 miles down the A14 anyway. (For example, the number of cyclists going that way is reported as 0 for every year since records began; admittedly the number is rounded (and thus could be slightly larger), but it's not going to be high enough to make a difference.)

In other news, this can probably be sent to Purgatory soon, because the new layout has started to open. There's currently a new 1-lane free-flowing sliproad from A14 westbound to M6 northbound (which has already made the junction considerably better). More lanes and movements are due to open over the next few months. (Once either M6 southbound to A14 eastbound, or every movement conflicting with it (there's only one left), have been sent onto new sliproads, the junction will be easily out of Bad status, and when it's finished, may well even qualify as Good.)

Maurice Andrews 18 December 2015

Work continues on the much-needed improvements at J19. The east-west A14 goes under the M1 and joins the M6 north. The A14 westbound now has a direct connection to the M1 north. It's getting better all the time. Sometimes the junction is closed for works, usually late Sunday evening which causes some (not many) problems. The 50mph limit south on the M1 has almost all gone now.

Dave 26 June 2016

I use Catthorpe to do M1-M6 and reverse seven or eight times a year. I went through Thursday and today, very pleased to see the new layout coming to fruition. Particularly enjoyed the northbound slip using the old on-slip from the junction, meaning you pass the M6 chopsticks sign halfway along!

One thing that concerned me on the approach from the M6 is the fact all traffic for the A14 has to get into the right hand lane. With the A14 being absolutely key for freight movement, is this not a bit of an oversight? I don't know whether this is a temporary arrangement during works and there'll be four lanes (two for each) in the final layout.

Still, you can't go wrong with a huge 3 lane carriageway sweeping gracefully over another motorway, like the new M6-M1 viaduct does. Looking forward to completion!

Maurice Andrews 28 July 2016

Early this morning coming home after a long day's trip to Calais we were confronted with the gantry signs 'M1 closed junctions 18-19'. Ongoing works? Chaos for miles around with every local tiny minor road clogged solid. Home via M45 and M69. Soon the Catthorpe junction nightmare will end. One thing is pretty obvious, checking, as I do, 'Incidents' at Catthorpe there are far fewer and less dangerous. It is estimated that a road death costs about £1 million so I think the money has been well spent. Perhaps one day soon we can all raise our virtual glasses and toast the opening of the rebuilt junction.

Hamish 24 August 2016

I wondered why it wasn't like this before but I noticed about a week ago on my new road atlas that it had changed. However as you pointed out, what about the non motorway traffic. Maybe there is another road being built that isn't marked for non motorway traffic. I tried to view this on Google street view but I couldn't because of the fact that (as of 24.8.2016) it hasn't been filmed by the Google video as so recently opened.

Dave 8 January 2017

Further to my last comment - there are indeed two lanes for the A14 eastbound now.

The final result is excellent - at the minute, you can come off the M1 to the roadworks end sign (after 18 monotonous miles at 50!) and indulge in some foot to the floor action as you come round that wide, sweeping left-hander towards the M6.

In the annals of UK motorways, I doubt a junction has seen a renaissance quite as dramatic as this (although M6 J34 is probably hot on the heels!).

Maurice Andrews 7 February 2017

Its about done. The A14 westbound is the 'main' road with the M1 north as a spur off. I have tried the revamped junction in all directions over the last few months and miracle of miracles it works. The M6-A14 east bound can be a little confusing but if you read the signs in advance it works. A great deal of money, effort and time but in the end worth it.

Phil Deer 26 April 2017

I was interested to see that Catthorpe is now finished, and read my comment from 2005. I moved away from the area in 2007 so I no longer have the pleasure of using the A14, but I hope that people using it are enjoying it - now to wait for the Cambridge section to be completed, and I might just have a nostalgic road trip from Ipswich to Coventry...

Pete Langdale 20 May 2018

Regarding non-motorway traffic using the A14 WB, it is directed off the A14 at the junction with the A5199 Northampton Road at Welford. This is some 5km before the Catthorpe interchange proper.

Craig Evans 21 June 2020

The rebuilding of Catthorpe Interchange caused the entire loss of at least a little stretch of the original M1 in order to allow the construction of a bridge to carry the M1 over the western end of the A14.

Fraser Mitchell 23 June 2020

Frankly, I'm puzzled this is still in the Bad Junctions section

It’s not! It’s in Bad Junctions Purgatory, the archive of old entries that have since been fixed. 

Only saw the remodelled junction in Google a couple of weeks ago. All I can say is: Mind. Blown!

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Published5 March 2017

Last updated5 March 2017