Once planned as London's most obscure radial motorway, today an early 1990s expressway connects Watford to Aylesbury.
The A41 is, of course, the London to Birkenhead road, but these days much of its once-grand route has been bypassed or superseded by motorways and other modern contrivances. Between Bicester and the edge of Birmingham, the A41 doesn't exist at all, a gaping hole in its route having been caused by the creation of the M40.
But, in sections, it's still an important route, albeit on a regional rather than national scale. One of its finest moments is on the journey from the outskirts of Greater London to Aylesbury, through the rolling hills of Hertfordshire, where the road is more or less a motorway. That's the part we're here to discuss.
The importance of this section of trunk road was recognised even back in the late 1960s, when a motorway was proposed from Watford (or thereabouts) to Aylesbury, to be called the A41(M). Construction started on it, with a tiny bit of isolated motorway called the Tring Bypass opening in 1973. But fashions change and tides turn, and in the same way that other parts of the A41 were being overlooked in favour of other roads, so the A41(M) plan fell down the list of priority road schemes until it vanished completely. In 1987 things looked so bleak that the Tring Bypass lost motorway status, reverting to A41 and appearing for all the world like a bit of dual carriageway and nothing more.
But every story can have a happy ending. In 1993, twenty years after the first bit of the proposed road had opened, another twelve miles of grade-separated dual carriageway were built, linking the Tring Bypass to the M25. It is, admittedly, just the A41 and not a motorway, and the junctions are far too small, with tight corners and inadequate merges, but it does at least exist, and it's precisely on the route of the former motorway proposal. The A41(M) in disguise, if you like.
Since then, a further bit of road was added to the far end, bypassing Aston Clinton, and completing the dual carriageway connection from Aylesbury to Greater London. It might be long and it might be fast, but the A41's glory days are behind it. In 2003 the Highways Agency handed over control of this section to Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire County Councils, so the motorway-like road here isn't even a trunk road any more, reflecting its regional and local importance and the fact that, as a through route, it effectively stops at Aylesbury. But at least it eventually got finished.
You're not looking at the whole A41
This page is about the parts of the A41 that are designated a motorway or that have motorway characteristics. Other sections of this road will not be featured here and will not count towards the length of the road as shown below.