Mickleham Bends

The 1930s saw considerable work to expand and improve the road network of mainland Britain, with many new arterial roads built around London and many other bypasses and improvements to roads in major cities across the country. It was still fairly unusual, however, to see new rural bypasses built as dual carriageways.

The Mickleham Bypass in Surrey was different, taking a tricky section of A24 south of Leatherhead and improving it with a second carriageway through the wooded Mole Valley and a new road avoiding the centre of the village. It was opened in two stages, in November 1937 and June 1938. Virtually unmodified to the present day, it had become notorious for its atrocious accident record, mainly because of the narrow southbound carriageway in the Mole Valley where the original road had not been widened or straightened as part of the dualling works, and because of the incredibly tight bend north-west of Mickleham itself.

Until the mid-1990s there were extravagant plans for a tunnel to straighten the line of the A24, but inevitably the cost was too high and in the end Surrey County Council chose to reduce the speed limit and close one lane of the deadly southbound carriageway. Today it's not as slow or as adrenaline-fuelled as it once was, but is still a fascinating and scenic road that's well worth a tour.

You can see the Mickleham Bends in video too - it's part of our Retro Collection of archive video tours.


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