M1 Motorway

A new word came into the English language at the end of the 1950s – motorway. The first of these, from north London to Crick in Northamptonshire made its route a few miles away from Wolverton at Newport Pagnell and Laing earth moving and construction vehicles became a common sight.

The average speed of travel on ordinary roads was probably about 30 miles and hour in the 1950s, largely because passage through towns seriously slowed traffic. The A5, for example, which was a major route to the north west, meant that traffic had to slow down or stop every ten miles or so. The village of Markyate, then on the A5, had a very narrow high street and lorries routinely chipped bricks off buildings.
So the motorway was much welcomed and it is surprising to look at this photograph now, taken from the bridge on the Haversham-Gayhurst road in 1960, how light traffic was.