Welcome to your Lancashire

History of the M602

THE MOTORWAY ARCHIVE


M602 Motorway - Eccles Bypass
From the M60/62 Interchange to A576 Eccles Old Road
including Eccles Interchange
W M Johnson MBE BEng CEng FICE FIHT

M602

Picture:   Looking west along the M602 from Polygon West Bridge. The bridge in the background is the Clarendon Footbridge which, as designed, was an ‘open’ bridge but had to be enclosed to inhibit the activities of vandals. Taken in 2002, the photograph shows the established appearance of the landscaping.

Contents

Abbreviations...............................................................................................................

Introduction..................................................................................................................

Inception......................................................................................................................

In a programme...........................................................................................................

The Route....................................................................................................................

Earthworks..................................................................................................................

Drainage......................................................................................................................

Structures....................................................................................................................

Pavement....................................................................................................................

Unusual Features........................................................................................................

The opening.................................................................................................................

Abbreviations



BC

Borough Council

BR(B)

British Rail (ways Board)

CB(C)

County Borough (Council)

CPO

Compulsory Purchase Order

CS

County Surveyor and Bridgemaster [of LCC]

DRE

Divisional Road Engineer [MoT]

EBP

Eccles By Pass

GPO

General Post Office

H&B

Highways and Bridges Committee [of LCC]

LCC

Lancashire County Council

LNWR

London & North Western Railway (pre 1927 component of LMSR)

MB(C)

Municipal Borough (Council)

MCWD

Manchester Corporation Waterworks Department

MoT

Ministry of Transport

MP

Member of Parliament

NWRCU

North Western Road Construction Unit [of MoT]

RCU

Road Construction Unit [of MoT]

RE

Resident Engineer

S.E.L.N.E.C.

South East Lancashire and North East Cheshire [area]

SLM

South Lancashire Motorway

UD(C)

Urban District (Council)


Introduction

An authority named Lancashire County Council (LCC) has existed for over 100 years. In the last 28 years, however, there have been major changes creating, in fact or effect, new authorities. The original administrative county included the area from the Manchester Ship Canal in the south to the southern Lake District in the north and the Pennines in the east but excluded the major conurbations, classified as County Boroughs. County Boroughs were, in present-day jargon, unitary authorities, virtually independent of County Councils but there was a ‘lesser’ class of borough, known properly as Municipal Boroughs of which the Borough of Eccles was a relevant example. These latter were only highway authorities in their own right for the lowest category of public roads, namely unclassified roads. Most other roads within the borough ‘belonged’ to the County Council which often delegated work on them such as maintenance and some improvements to the Borough Council[1]. The other highway authority which must be briefly mentioned at this stage was the Government in the shape of the Ministry of Transport (MoT) or its successor manifestations[2] which ‘owned’ Trunk Roads. Trunk Roads were roads considered to be of strategic national importance and were financed completely by the Treasury. As the government also made grants varying in size from 50% to 100% of the cost of local authority schemes on classified non-trunk roads, Ministry approval was required for capital expenditure on those roads. Salford City, being a County Borough and a highway authority in its own right, dealt with all highway matters in its area, negotiating directly with the MoT. It was in this capacity that, in September 1970, it made the orders required for the extension of the Eccles By Pass eastwards into Salford.

To bring relevant local government boundaries up to date, in 1974 after the opening of Eccles By Pass, the southern part of the County of Lancashire was divided between Cheshire and the newly formed Metropolitan Counties of Greater Manchester and Merseyside. At the same time, County Boroughs were dissolved and their areas were incorporated into the new Counties. Unfortunately the new county was named ‘Lancashire’ thus placating traditionalists at the expense of clarity.

In December 1958, the Minister of Transport floated the idea of assessing and planning for the long-term highway requirements of major conurbations outside London. The Minister suggested that “working parties of Surveyors[3] [Engineers] to County Councils and County Borough Councils should investigate and formulate proposals”. This led to a consortium of local authorities with a common interest in the sub-region known as the S.E.L.N.E.C. (South East Lancashire North East Cheshire) area. It included the pre-1974 Counties of Lancashire and Cheshire together with the County Boroughs in the area such as Manchester and Salford. Though the S.E.L.N.E.C. area was, in some ways, a prototype for the Greater Manchester County, which came into being in 1974, there were substantial differences.

The extent of the two shire counties’ involvement in the S.E.L.N.E.C. area may surprise those unfamiliar with local government before the 1974 reorganisation but an example from my own experience may help. As the last Divisional Surveyor of Lancashire’s Division 6, which covered part of the area, I had under my wing no fewer than 23 local authorities later incorporated into Greater Manchester varying in size from extremely small Urban Districts such as Wardle (population 5,090 in 1972) to large Municipal Boroughs like Eccles (38,080) and Stretford (53,470). It is worth emphasising that the Lancashire County Council was far from parochial in its attitude to the wider problems within the geographical county, as witness its concern with the problems of St Helens (see page 9) and Liverpool, both county boroughs, and with the transport problems of the north west region and the country as a whole.

One further member of the cast of dramatis personae should be mentioned. In April 1967, with James Drake, Lancashire’s County Surveyor, seconded to the MoT as its first Director, the first regional Road Construction Unit (RCU) was formed. Its effect on the construction of the Eccles By Pass was nil and on the Eccles Interchange minimal[4]. RCUs were set up to take over from County Councils and other authorities, the work of design and supervision of construction of major trunk road including trunk motorway projects which the local authorities had previously carried out as agents of the Ministry. I have read that some people believe that the formation of the NWRCU was the main factor in developing a highway network in Lancashire which others envied. This is one of those historical matters which may be argued about ad infinitum and upon which I take, not for the first time, an unorthodox, some would say ‘unreasonable’, position. However it is indisputable that a substantial part of the Lancashire network was planned built or conceived under LCC auspices before RCUs were even contemplated. There will be ample evidence in this paper, for example on page 9, of the fact that, in many cases, the originator of new road proposals was the County Council. In 1958, the first motorway in the country was opened in Lancashire, planned designed and supervised by Lancashire County Council on behalf of the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation. By 1972, when it could be said that the RCUs began to have an effect, there were 153 miles already built and a further 154 miles either under construction, planned or in a programme. History is full of imponderables. If the NWRCU had not been established, would not the same people, working for the County Council directly instead of for the MoT directly or indirectly, given the same financial resources, have produced the same, or better, motorways? Would the finance have been made available if the government of the day could not have taken direct credit for the programme? Who knows? All I know is that it is not possible to say that the establishment of the NWRCU covering Lancashire made any difference or, indeed, that it didn’t The case that RCUs made an improvement nationally is, I think, more clear cut and much less easy to argue against. Whether or not the RCUs were significant in the long term, the Eccles Interchange was built before they had a chance to influence it in any meaningful way.

My own involvement in pre-contract work on what became known as the M602, Eccles By Pass, was very brief spanning about a year towards the end of the contract preparation period. After completing the construction of the A666 Farnworth-Kearsley By Pass, on which contract I was the County Council’s engineering site representative, known as the Resident Engineer (RE), I was brought into the design office at Prospect Hill, Walton-le-dale to manage the small (and very good) design team, then in the later stages of the preparation of the Eccles By Pass contract. It was understood that with my, by then, 15 years of ‘outside’ experience, I would be a suitable person to be Resident Engineer when the contract was let. I therefore had a vested interest in ensuring that there would be sufficient ‘fat’ in the estimate to allow for the probability of additional, unforeseen, work in the intensively built up area through which the road was to run. It was clear that, when I started, despite previous increases, the estimated cost was considerably on the low side so one of the problems which I had to face was getting the estimate up to a more realistic figure without ‘killing’ the job altogether. In this, as always, I found that ‘coming clean’ to the County Surveyor and Bridgemaster, James Drake (later Sir James) resulted, often after some initial understandable annoyance, in complete support.

In the event, my destiny was not to be RE on Eccles By Pass. One Saturday at Walkden in the autumn of 1969 at a County Council exhibition, James took me aside and told me he was minded to appoint someone else to the job of RE. He said that the Eccles By Pass had a high structures content, that he was always under pressure to appoint a bridge engineer as RE rather than deputy as was more normal, and therefore, Eccles was a suitable job for such a person. He promised me that I would have a similar RE’s position soon. I agreed (there was really little option) and Alan Cockshaw (later Sir Alan) was appointed as RE to Eccles By Pass. In the event, the job which I got was similar in size and also in the fact that it was rather under-estimated; unfortunately, by the time I was involved, it was too late to correct the shortfall but that’s another story[5].

There is a dearth of published material about the Lancashire section of the M602, Eccles By Pass. I only know of the brochure produced for the official opening which took place on 3rd November 1971. This paper largely contains new material derived, in the main, from the minutes of the Highways and Bridges Committee[6] of the pre 1974 Lancashire County Council but I have, on occasion, included an expanded or condensed version of information contained in the brochure for the sake of completeness. I have cause to be grateful for the squirrel-like attributes of Tony Henry, a former member of the staff of the County Surveyor’s Department, who, from his collection of ‘nuts’, produced a few pages of notes which are undated but were presumably produced to help people conducting site visits. Though much of the information duplicates that in the opening brochure, there are some different insights. I am grateful also to John B Firth, a senior engineer in the design staff I inherited who then went on to the Resident Engineer’s staff, thus becoming more steeped in Eccles By Pass than anyone else I can think of. John cast a kindly eye over my effusions and remedied some errors and omissions, in particular giving me some stories from his site experience. I have to accept responsibility for the end product, however, and for any flaws it contains.

I am grateful also to some of the diminishing number of former colleagues and also to other members of staff of what is now the Environment Department of the Lancashire County Council and to Graham Harding, its Director, for humouring my requests for reproductive assistance.

Once again, I must thank as always the staff of the Lancashire County Record Office for their help in uncomplainingly digging out from their archives the weighty minutes of past meetings. Minutes can often be a very frustrating source of information. A far from rare example of the difficulties of historical research comes to light, or rather doesn’t come to light, in January of 1965 when, in a report of a meeting the County Surveyor had with the Divisional Road Engineer[7] of the MoT, it is recorded that, as far as Motorways were concerned, the DRE had said that any information he gave would be have to be confidential. The minutes record that the CS reported verbally to the Committee and no permanent record of what he said exists. Despite this difficulty, I think the story as written here is reasonably accurate in what it says, even if tantalising loose ends may exist.

The map below, reproduced from the opening brochure for the Eccles By Pass, shows the motorways open, under construction or programmed in the South East Lancashire area in November 1971. It may be helpful to readers of this document.

Text Box:

A note on the numbering of Motorways on this map may also be helpful. The map shows the road numbers applying in November 1971. Before this, the Stretford-Eccles By Pass from Stretford to the Worsley Court House junction with A572 (Junction 13 on the map) had been numbered M62. It was, of course, built by Lancashire County Council as a ‘county’ motorway, the first ‘non-Ministry’ motorway in the country, but subsequently became a trunk road. With the decision to number the motorway from Liverpool to Yorkshire M62[8], the length of the Stretford-Eccles By Pass south of the Eccles Interchange was renumbered M63. Much more recently, about the turn of the century, the Manchester outer ring road was renumbered M60 throughout its length. On the map on page7, M63, M62 from Eccles Interchange to its interchange with M66, and M66 south of M62 are all now part of M60. Today, therefore, the intersection at the western end of the M602 links that motorway with M60 and M62 and these current numbers have been used in the sub-title of this piece.

There is also one final warning which I should give to the reader. The fact that parts of this account are drawn from the minutes of the County Council’s Highways and Bridges Committee and their decisions are reported throughout this document using phrases such as “the Committee decided to….” or “the Committee wrote to…” may appear to credit the Committee with a more pro-active role than they actually had. The vast majority of Committee’s decisions resulted from a recommendation by the officers of the County Council, usually the County Surveyor. Except on contentious issues, there would be little or no debate, just an acceptance of the County Surveyor’s report.

Inception

In the brochure produced for the official opening of Eccles By Pass M602, the first words after titles and headings are:-

It was in 1960, soon after his return from a visit to the United States of America, that the County Surveyor first suggested the construction of a motorway between Liverpool and Manchester.

Whilst this may be a reasonably accurate statement, study of the minutes of the Lancashire County Council’s Highways and Bridges Committee makes one feel that any connection between the two events is largely coincidental. There is no doubt, however, that, unlike most other schemes in Lancashire, a motorway between Liverpool and Manchester did not remotely figure in the prescient document, prepared soon after James Drake’s appointment as County Surveyor (CS), the 1949 Road Plan for Lancashire. The tour of the USA was organised by the ‘Pavings Development Group (Concrete and Soil Cement)’[9] and ran from 27th April to 7th May 1960. The CS was to present a report of the tour to the July 1960 meeting of his Committee “with colour slide illustrations” but no mention of the presentation is included in the minutes of that meeting. Indeed, in the minutes of the July meeting is an item headed Lancashire Roads[10] which proposes a campaign putting pressure on the Ministry of Transport to remedy specific deficiencies in the Lancashire road system. There is, in the ‘shopping list’ contained in the item, no mention of a Liverpool-Manchester road in any form. Even as late as March 1961 when the Committee considered the problems of linking Wigan and St Helens to the North-South motorway (later M6), no hint of a Liverpool-Manchester link appears even though such a link could have eased St Helens’ problems considerably.

Finally, in May 1961, almost exactly 12 months after the visit to USA, a report was presented to the Committee on connections from central and south Liverpool to the M6, M62 and to Manchester via Salford. This was the first mention to Committee of a Liverpool-Manchester motorway, which was called, in the report, the Merseyside Expressway. The Committee resolved to add the Expressway to the proposals contained in the 1949 Road Plan for Lancashire and to make representations to the MoT for it to be added to the National Motorway Plan. Included in the Expressway proposal was a “very rough estimate” of £3.5 million for the length between M62 and the Salford boundary, the length which later became known as the Eccles By Pass.

One year later, in May 1962, the MoT asked the County Council to carry out an origin and destination survey in connection with the Merseyside Expressway. In the report informing them of this request, the Committee agreed to a suggestion that ‘South Lancashire Motorway’ would be a better name for the road. At the same meeting they were told of a public meeting to be held in Eccles about the road proposals. The CS and the Deputy Clerk of the County Council attended a meeting of Eccles Borough Council’s General Purposes Committee on 19th June. They must have done a good job at that meeting because, although no conclusion was reported to the Committee until October, Eccles Borough Council had agreed the County Council’s scheme for the South Lancashire Motorway (SLM). With that potential problem out of the way, a large-scale plan of the proposals was sent to the CC’s Planning and Development Committee and to the Ministry of Transport. When the Planning Committee approved the proposals, they did so “subject to a comprehensive scheme of landscape planting”. You can almost feel the County Surveyor’s annoyance when, in reporting the Planning Committee’s qualified support, he pointed out that it was standard practice for the CS to consult the County Planning Officer on the landscaping of all motorways.

The meeting in Eccles, an early example of public consultation, with the County Surveyor leading the County Council’s effort, typified Lancashire’s approach and paid considerable dividends. The Borough Council and most resident groups were kept well informed throughout the design and construction of the road and “excellent co-operation”, using the words of the opening brochure, resulted. To do this consistently well in an intensively built-up area should be something in which County Council staff at all levels could take considerable pride and which should be a model to highway designers and constructors everywhere.

Another typically helpful factor in fostering co-operation with the public was the willingness of the County Council to purchase land or property needed for a proposed road and offered to them by the owners even before a formal scheme had been approved. The Committee agreed to do this in the case of Eccles By Pass in December 1962, just 7 years before construction started. As the property offered and acquired became more extensive, a small sub-committee was formed in October 1964 to agree with Eccles BC the management of properties acquired for the By Pass. In December of the same year they agreed to spend £105 on a survey of re-housing needs in Eccles, a sum which was added to later but which never became significant. The advanced purchase of property placed on the County Council some additional liability if, as in this case, the start of the roadworks was long delayed. It was, for example, necessary to start a demolition programme in January 1967 in order to deal with property purchased for the motorway which had deteriorated in condition and which was potentially dangerous.

Incidental expenses were covered in this same helpful spirit. Two residents complained that their old houses had perfectly satisfactory kitchen ranges which more than sufficed for their purposes but that their new-fangled modern houses didn’t. They had had to buy cookers and asked for the cost to be covered. Despite the expenditure not qualifying for government grant, the Committee agreed to meet half the cost; not a big sum (about £40) but typifying the attitude prevailing. In fact, co-operation was the watchword all round. Much later, the Committee wrote to the Borough Engineer and Surveyor and to the Housing Manager of Eccles BC expressing their appreciation of their efforts in re-housing and other matters.

Things really started to happen in the case of the South Lancashire Motorway when the Ministry’s Divisional Road Engineer met the Committee on 12th December 1962 for his comprehensive survey of Lancashire’s highway needs. He said that, in the case of the SLM, decisions on programme were awaiting the results of traffic surveys. He was quoted as saying that the length in Eccles would feature in the S.E.L.N.E.C. report as a classified road motorway. When the Committee considered the S.E.L.N.E.C. report in March 1963, they were told that there had been consultations with 24 local authorities in Lancashire and that 23 formal responses had been received–all positive. When the MoT responded to the report in January 1964, they only gave approval ‘in principle’ to certain schemes up to 1966. Needless to say, the South Lancashire Motorway was not among them.

This rather typical and disappointing response from MoT followed a meeting in July 1963 at which the Ministry were pressed on a statement alleged to have been made by the Minister to the effect that congestion problems would be solved by 1970. The Ministry denied that any such statement had been made; they said that a lot of work would remain to be done “in the 1970s”. They then attempted to deflect attention away from motorways towards relatively small-scale works on all-purpose roads and the only schemes specifically mentioned at the meeting were of this type.

It may be helpful, at this stage, to talk briefly about road classification and financing. The main national arteries, connecting large centres of population and connecting those centres with ports were considered to be a national responsibility and were classified as trunk roads, financed 100% by the government who were the highway authority for them. They were managed by the MoT but, in the period with which we are dealing, the MoT employed agents to carry out or supervise work on them; the agents were usually the County Council or the County Borough Council through whose area the road ran. The rule at that time was that the trunk roads ran between centres but the trunk road status ceased at either the county borough boundary or, if there was one, at the outer ring road which was usually accepted as part of the trunk road system. Once a trunk road entered the borough or the central ‘ring’ it became a borough responsibility, or if a municipal borough was involved, as in the case of Eccles, a county council responsibility. It would then become a classified (usually Class I[11]) county road subject to 75% government grant for which the county council (or county borough council) was the highway authority. It will be seen therefore that, whatever the status or ‘ownership’ of the road, it had to get into a government financial programme unless the local authority was prepared to forgo the government’s share of the cost–a very rare event. The fact that, in the case of Eccles By Pass, there was no reported argument by the County Council against the principles of classification shows how the ‘rules’ about classification, once very contentious, had become accepted.

Attempts by the County Council to get the South Lancashire Motorway into a government programme continued. A special sub-committee appointed to consider Lancashire’s needs produced a report for the Highways and Bridges Committee and included under the sub-heading “(b) Motorway projects not included in the MoT programme”, was an item “South Lancashire Motorway, including the Widnes Link. 22 miles £18,500,000”. The sub-committee recommended pressure on the government; specifically by enlisting the help of local MPs and by a deputation to the Minister, The deputation was agreed and, on the 7th April 1964, it went to London and saw the Permanent Secretary at the MoT. They probably did not expect to see the Minister who, as often happens, sheltered behind his senior civil servant. A straight bat was deployed in saying that the work the County Council had done would be “helpful” to the Ministry but that “it would not be possible to settle the broad scope of the Ministry’s long-term programme until national needs had been assessed and the likely scale of resources determined”. The Permanent Secretary made it clear that he did not accept that Lancashire was not getting its fair share. He agreed that, on the South Lancashire Motorway, a comprehensive report would be prepared to enable the Minister to take “a decision in principle” and decide what survey work was needed. Needless to say (but he reportedly said it anyway) this was “on the clear understanding that the Ministry were not committed to any programme date”.

I sometimes wonder why people bothered with these meetings with senior civil servants and even with Ministers. Having been on so many deputations, I’m sure that the CS and the more experienced Committee members could have written the replies before they went. I suppose, as the old saying has it, that constant dripping wears away a stone and it did usually produce the goods for Lancashire but at the cost of some popularity and, ultimately, influence in the corridors of power. In applying pressure, the County Council must have alienated those civil servants who were more concerned with a quiet life than they were with expediting the road programme. It must also have frustrated those in the MoT who were having to stall for time in order to safeguard the Treasury who were often the primary cause of any delay. In idle moments I wonder how much this apparently very necessary pressure led to a wish in the civil service to cut Lancashire literally down to size, a desire which was fulfilled in the local government reorganisation of 1974. To be fair, any desire on the part of certain senior civil servants to reduce Lancashire’s power and influence coincided with the growing exasperation of the then ruling political party with local authorities. This culminated in the reorganisation of local government of 1974 with its concomitant boundary changes.

In July 1964 the Committee were informed that, although S.E.L.N.E.C. were disappointed at the level of funding, they had received notification from MoT of the levels of grant which would apply up to 1967. The Eccles By Pass was included in the list at a rough estimated cost of £3.975M for a start in 1966/67. The Committee resolved that approval be given to the invitation of tenders for survey work estimated to cost £10,200 on two schemes, one of which was the Eccles By Pass, which accounted for £9000 of the estimate. Kemps Aerial Surveys Ltd who offered to survey both schemes for £6008 won the contract for this work. Aerial surveys were, of course, the only practicable way of carrying out a survey in such a densely populated area in a reasonable time. By April 1965,the South Lancashire Motorway and the Eccles By Pass had found their way into a programme being considered for design and construction work but the ‘rough estimated cost’ had risen to £18.5M for the SLM and £4.325M for the By Pass. This was not the first nor yet the last increase in the estimated cost and, as stated on page 6, this was far from sufficient.

In a programme

In July 1965 the County Surveyor reported to his Committee that he had been assured by the MoT that Eccles By Pass was finally included in a Ministry programme about to be announced for construction in the financial[12] years 1967/68 and 1968/69. By September 1965, the noise of recession was again in the air. Many schemes not committed were held up and funding was stopped. Faced with yet another ‘stop’ in the financial ‘stop go’ cycle, the Committee decided that the acquisition of property for the Eccles By Pass would continue unaffected. The Minister said that he had no objection to the Committee being told that EBP would be included in the ‘roll forward’ of the MoT programme for the year 1967/68; thus confirming what the CS had told them in July but still not actually putting it into a programme. The rough estimated cost given to the Minister had risen to £5.24M.

The legal framework for the existence of the By Pass began to occupy the Committee in October 1965 when they decided to recommend the County Council to authorise them to make a scheme under Section 11 of the Highways Act 1959. This procedure describes the route of a new road and its connecting roads and the scheme was ‘made’[13] on 10th November 1965. Of course it is also necessary to divert or stop up side roads, public footpaths and private accesses and an order under Section 13 of the same act of parliament is the method of doing so. Again the Committee needed County Council authority to make an order and in January 1966 they resolved to seek it. It took the MoT until July to make some observations on the Scheme and Order, mainly concerning minor drafting aspects. The County Council decided to call the Ministry’s bluff (if they were trying to waste time) and not to argue with MoT but to accept all their suggestions unaltered and to make the Order and Scheme. The County Council already had the approval of Eccles BC, Worsley UDC, and the County Council’s Planning and Industrial Development Committee. They also needed and got the consent of Salford BC to a few minor side road alterations falling within the Borough boundary. The very practical and reasonable relationship between the LCC and Salford was typified by the fact that Salford agreed to Lancashire doing work in the Borough and paying for it and the County agreed to Salford doing likewise when the time came for them to build their motorway. It was September 1967 before the MoT confirmed the Section 11 scheme and, even then, they could only say that the Section 13 order would be confirmed by them without amendment “in the near future”. In the event, the Committee were told at their next meeting in October that, for once, “in the near future” was pretty accurate and the order had been confirmed.

Pressure on the MoT from the County Council continued. Although the Eccles By Pass section seemed to be in, or about to be in, a programme, the South Lancashire Motorway was not. Of course, the SLM was likely to be a trunk road in line with the, by now, accepted principle that roads between important centres were a national responsibility. The Committee, in February 1966, decided to arrange a meeting with MPs at Westminster together with a subsequent press conference, letters and exhibitions in order to keep certain schemes before the public. The 3 schemes concerned included the South Lancashire Motorway.

At last the programming of the Eccles By Pass was nearer to confirmation by the Minister who was “willing to include the scheme estimated to cost £5,240,000 in her[14] programme and had suggested that it might be programmed for the year 1967/68.” The Committee were encouraged but still somewhat sceptical. They decided to tell her that “grant application could be made and work started in the programmed year provided that there was no undue delay on the part of the Minister in confirming the formal orders etc.” As we have already seen in considering the Section 11 scheme and the Section 13 orders, whilst not as slow as they sometimes were, the mills of government did not grind as quickly as necessary. When the programme was finally issued by the MoT in April 1966, EBP was included as promised for 1967/68 but the County Surveyor made the point that it would be a major achievement to meet the programmed year, requiring very good co-operation from the Eccles BC and the MoT. Negotiations were opened for the purchase of all remaining property, however the very tight time scale made it necessary to start the procedures for a CPO [15](Compulsory Purchase Order). This was necessary despite the excellent progress being made on voluntary property deals; one unwilling vendor could have put a serious block in the way of road construction so that the CPO was a reasonable precaution to take. The order was made in June 1967 and in spite of the considerable number of people affected by the scheme, there were only 8 objections and some of these were of very doubtful validity.

Eccles BC’s co-operation was an important factor in ensuring the speedy completion of the preliminaries and appears to have been very good. Eccles owned Cleavly Playing Fields which were seriously affected by the site of the proposed interchange with the M62. It was a statutory duty on the authority acquiring those public playing fields to provide a replacement for the 20.49 acres concerned. The estimated cost of land and works was £90,000. In re-housing it was estimated that 250 houses were required, including about 160 near the grass airfield at Barton; Eccles had become concerned that there was a risk of flying accidents and so they reduced the number of houses on that site to 148. An estimate of the funds required for re-housing was made in February 1967 and amounted to £600,000. The MoT (stalling for time again?) had refused to issue grant on this amount progressively as the work went on and it was not clear that the Ministry of Housing and Local Government would issue loan sanction thus making it impossible for the LCC to raise a loan for the work. More pressure was clearly required.

Apart from Eccles BC’s direct involvement, they could be extremely helpful in negotiations with property owners such as Eccles Liberal Club, Eccles Congregational Church and commercial interests such as Edward Taylor Ltd whose boiler house required early replacement.

As the start of the work became nearer, it became necessary to agree to advance works or purchases of equipment so that the roadworks would not be delayed unnecessarily. Orders were given to the Manchester Corporation Waterworks Department (MCWD) to buy pipes to enable the diversion of the 2-pipe Thirlmere Aqueduct at the Interchange to be carried out. Part of the diversion was by a bridge to be constructed by the County Council and MCWD agreed to pay to have the design widened in order to carry a third pipeline in the future. The GPO who, in those pre-BT days, were responsible for telephones, were also given orders to buy cables in advance. The local electricity undertaking were similarly treated for works to be carried out by them. The County Council themselves invited tenders for the construction of the Thirlmere Bridge to carry the MCWD pipes over the motorway. It was estimated that the cost would be £19,000, offset partially by the contribution of MCWD, but, in the event, the contract was won by Leonard Fairclough Ltd of Adlington[16] in the sum of £35,945 5s 1d with an additional £2,055 to cover the cost of supervision and the diversion of traffic.

A report to the November 1967 meeting of the Committee effectively summarised the state of play with regard to most of the advanced works other than re-housing. On the Thirlmere aqueduct diversion, they had previously committed £2,000 to the advance purchase of flexible couplings, £75,500 to supply of steel pipes and £98,500 to diversion works–a total of £177,000. MCWD had now found that another £27,000 was required making the total £204,000. This was in addition to the cost of the Thirlmere Bridge described in the previous paragraph. They had previously agreed to ask British Rail to begin work on junction alterations estimated to cost £20,000 in connection with the Regent Railway Bridge to allow a new pier to be constructed between the running lines. This work had been found by BR to be unnecessary. They agreed to re-site the boiler house to enable Edward Taylor Ltd to keep in business and they agreed to more telephone line diversions bringing the total estimated to be paid to the GPO to £33,400. They were, no doubt, slightly relieved to be told that loan sanction for these works would be given but there was still no joy on interim grant payments. The MoT said that there were ongoing national discussions on such issues and they were not prepared to give Lancashire a decision before the national negotiations had been completed.

In addition to the advance works specified in the Committee item, other steps were necessary to ensure that, when work started, there were no unnecessary hold ups. British Rail were involved, not only in the Regent Railway Bridge at the eastern end of the scheme which was mentioned in the preceding paragraph but also in connection with a bridge to carry the Eccles-Tyldesley-Wigan line over the By Pass. It may be convenient at this point to explode a myth. An alliance of environmentalists and rail enthusiasts (I am often felt to be among the latter) is quick to blame the need for closure of any rail line on the provision of a new road. Near the site of Patricroft locomotive sheds, just west of Eccles station, a line left the Manchester-Liverpool main line of the former LNWR and headed to Wigan and to a junction with the West Coast main line. I have, in fact, heard railway historians attribute the closure of this line directly to the construction of the Eccles By Pass. The railway line was, at the beginning of the 1960s, used by two passenger services, both proposed for closure by the notorious Dr Richard Beeching[17]. These services were described in the Beeching Report as “Liverpool Lime Street-Tyldesley-Patricroft- Manchester Exchange (Local)” and “Manchester Exchange-Tyldesley-Wigan North Western (Local)”. The former route involved a loop off the Liverpool-Manchester main line at Kenyon Junction through Tyldesley and rejoining the main line at Patricroft; the Tyldesley-Patricroft section being common to both routes. Despite my feelings in these matters being often totally opposed to those of the Doctor, I could see little justification for the continued existence of the ‘loop’ route and not a great deal for the route to Wigan. Its role as a relief route for northbound main line journeys from Manchester to the West Coast main line could easily be filled by the junction near Newton le Willows which still exists. The Wigan line was, in fact, closed to passengers in 1961 and passenger services on the ‘loop’ were withdrawn early in 1968[18]. All services ceased on 3rd May 1969.

Even so, the plans for the road at quite a late stage in design included a bridge to carry the line over the Eccles By Pass and the longitudinal section of the road showed a sharp dip after crossing the Bridgewater Canal at Winton Grange Canal Bridge and Lansdowne Road to enable it to pass under the railway bridge with adequate headroom. In March 1966, British Rail were asked by the Committee to commence work on the design of the bridge immediately. As late as January 1968, British Rail were authorised to proceed with the construction of the bridge at a revised estimated cost of £260,000. Shortly afterwards, the railway was closed and it was suggested to the CS that we should lift the road profile at the site of the railway bridge to ease the gradient. He agreed, but only if it could be demonstrated that, if required by British Rail (BR), we could reinstate the rail line without serious adverse effect on railway operations. We were able to do this because diesel and electric traction, which became universal on BR in 1968, could tolerate steeper gradients than steam traction without any adverse effect. BR were informed that they could, and presumably still can, bridge the road at any time at the expense of the highway authority though, with much subsequent development further along the route, the line’s reinstatement would, if not impossible, hardly be straightforward. I think that this paragraph and the preceding one show that the closure of the railway was a British Rail initiative and was completely unrelated to the roadworks.

The Section 11 scheme and the Section 13 order had been officially confirmed in late 1967 so an application for grant for the Eccles By Pass scheme was made[19]. The estimate by now had risen to £6,423,000 for the classified road section of the EBP plus £398,200 for advance works on the M62 Interchange. This nearly doubled the first, admittedly rough estimate but was still not enough by a considerable margin.

Test piles were needed at the junction of the EBP and the M62 and it would obviously save a lot of time if they could be driven in advance. There wasn’t time to invite tenders in the normal way and County Council standing orders had to be waived so that a short list of 4 suitable contractors could be asked to tender. Probably to the surprise of no one, Leonard Fairclough Ltd, the contractor already on site to build the Thirlmere Bridge, submitted the lowest tender in May 1968 in the sum of £13,968 8s 1d. These works going on near the Cleavly Playing Fields while they were still in use necessitated an unusual precaution. Eccles BC naturally wanted to avoid claims from the contractors or others involved in the works in case someone was hit by a cricket ball or similar missile. The Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Committee therefore gave Eccles an indemnity in case of any such incident.

Late in 1968, James Drake returned to the Lancashire County Council from his period of secondment to the MoT as Director of the North West Road Construction Unit (NWRCU). Study of the Minutes of the County Council’s Highways and Bridges Committee tends to show a tendency towards a more proactive attitude than had been the case during his absence though, from personal experience, I don’t think he had ever been far away in spirit. Initially, following his return, the routine of obtaining Committee approval for funds continued. For property demolition; for acquisition of property–£50,000 for Eccles BC for 26 properties and £2,000 for Immanuel Methodist Church; and for removal expenses–£7 10s. 0d. for Mrs I Piggott of 21 Mayfield Road. In an April 1969 item misleadingly headed “Eccles By Pass M64” the Gas Board was authorised to proceed with the diversion of a gas main affected by the construction of Winton Bridge over Folly Brook. At the same meeting, Messrs Boulton and Paul of Norwich were authorised to begin rolling the high-yield steel required for “Preflex” beams intended for Clarendon Footbridge, Ellesmere Park Footbridge and Regent Railway Bridge.

Discussions took place with the MoT on the trunk road network at which items of cost-sharing were raised. These resulted in what I believe to be the only report to Committee on this important subject. It had, since time immemorial, been the ‘rule’ that, where roads intersected, the more important road paid for the junction. For example, if a Class I road met a trunk road, the trunk road paid; if a Class II road met a Class I road, the Class I road paid; and so on. This of course was only really significant where different highway authorities were involved as in the case of trunk and Class I roads although, in the other cases, different levels of government grant were payable to the local authority for different classes of road. This arrangement seemed to suit all parties but, when more complex motorway interchanges started to appear, some bright spark, probably at the Treasury, thought that the government was losing out. It took them some time to register this but, when they looked at the Eccles Interchange, they decided to argue that the Principal Road (Eccles By Pass) should bear £1,337,470 of the total cost estimated then at £3,139,600. They maintained this position for some time though the logic of their proposed split escapes me.

In the report to Committee on the situation in June 1969, it was stated that “the County Surveyor has argued that, as there are three Trunk Road Motorways and one Regional (sic) Road Motorway involved, the maximum contribution [of EBP] should be one quarter of £3,139,600. It will be seen,” the report went on, “that the Ministry have now accepted this view for this junction only. The decision will save the County Council £138,142.” The County Council’s share of the cost thus became £784,000 on which sum a 75% grant amounting to £588,675 was anticipated.

In July 1969, James Drake put to his Committee a final attempt to raise the estimate to a more realistic figure. After all, it was hoped that tenders would soon be invited and it was important that the estimated cost should bear some relationship to the tender figure plus ex-contract costs. In that month’s Committee minutes therefore they approved a “Revised total estimated cost for Eccles By Pass and Interchange” of £9,700,456 (net £1,813,264)

In September 1969, things warmed up. The Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Committee were authorised to accept “the lowest suitable tender” for the construction of Eccles By Pass and Interchange. Tenders had been invited in March from a list of 5 selected contractors. They were Balfour Beatty and Co Ltd of London; Costain Civil Engineering Ltd also of London; W&C French (Construction) Ltd of Essex; Leonard Fairclough Ltd of Adlington; and A Monk and Co of Padgate. On 17th September, the lowest tender of Leonard Fairclough Ltd in the sum of £7,981,042 15s. 1d[20] was accepted. This cost again proved the inadequacy of the estimate as, of course, the substantial amount to cover ex-contract items had to be added. It was necessary to request loan consent to raise £240,657 to cover the increased cost which, incidentally, was not mentioned in the report to Committee though, in December, they were told that the latest estimate was £11,096,638.

Despite all the warnings detailed earlier in this document about keeping to the timetable to avoid delays in the programme, the urgency had apparently not penetrated the portals of the Ministry. By 12th November, their approval of the tender submitted to them on 17th September had not been received. The Committee were, I think, justifiably annoyed. They resolved that “in the event of an immediate decision not being forthcoming, the Minister be asked to receive a deputation.” The threat worked, or something did because, on 10th December, the Committee were told that work had recently been started. It had actually begun two days earlier, on 8th December 1969, with a contract period of 24 months.

It was actually not until October 1971 that the Department of the Environment, which had recently taken over transport, actually issued the revised grant which had been requested by the LCC in October 1969 and, subject to the receipt of which, the tender for the construction of Eccles By Pass had been accepted. This further example of unnecessary dilatoriness does not sit well with the belief, mentioned earlier, to the effect that the MoT taking direct control away from the counties speeded up the construction of motorways. At least, the Ministry did confirm that work on the Eccles Interchange that was not covered in the Eccles By Pass contract would be included in the contract for the M62 Risley-Worsley section.

The Route

Map  

The plan on the preceding page (page 19), reproduced from the opening brochure, shows the route and the location of the principal structures on the Eccles By Pass and Interchange. It also shows which structures and carriageways were constructed under the County Council’s Eccles By Pass contract.

With regard to a verbal description of the route location, I can do little better than quote from the brochure:-

The alignment of the By-Pass was largely determined by the location of the junctions at each end, and the requirements for the future extension of the motorway eastwards through Salford.

At the west end of the By-Pass, the location of the Eccles Interchange with M63 was fixed within small limits since it had to be north of the Liverpool-Manchester Railway Line to avoid an Eccles Corporation housing site, which extends up to the south side of the railway. Any northward movement of the Interchange was impracticable because of the close proximity of the Worsley Court House Junction on M62.

Because of the heavy volumes of turning traffic anticipated at the Interchange, it is of the free-flow type with traffic joining the main motorway after the outgoing traffic has left it. Although the Interchange takes up some 69 acres of land, the area required has been kept to the minimum possible.

Towards the eastern end, the By-Pass has been located immediately on the north side of the Manchester-Liverpool railway which reduces severance and provides the most suitable location for a roundabout with links to the existing A57 and A576 near the Salford City Boundary. This location was confirmed by the agreement of the City Council to continue the line into Salford along the north side of the railway. The roundabout is well placed for distributing traffic leaving the By-Pass on to A57 and A576, in addition to providing a direct connection between the By-Pass and the Eccles Town Centre.

Between the two extremities, the route chosen for the By-Pass took advantage of the existence of semi-derelict land between existing development, where very little modern property was affected, and of the 353 houses which had to be demolished for the By-Pass, 293 were constructed before 1914. In addition, 2 churches, 47 shops, 2 public houses and a small number of other premises have had to be demolished.

At its eastern end, the By Pass is in cutting at about the same level as the railway line, in order to interfere as little as possible with the amenity of the area. To the west of Wellington Road, however, the motorway had to be raised above ground to provide headroom over the Bridgewater Canal and side roads, and extensive embankments have been required.

You will see that the brochure makes no mention of the Eccles-Tyldesley-Wigan line referred to in this document starting on page 15. Though the railway was closed, it still had some influence on the alignment because of the need for the road to be low enough to be bridged should the railway ever be reinstated. This resulted in a rather sharper ‘dip’ east of Lansdowne Road than might appear necessary today.

The route chosen for the By Pass involved the construction of 5 underbridges, 3 overbridges, 5 pedestrian subways, 3 footbridges and a bridge carrying a motorway link over the Liverpool-Manchester railway at the eastern end of the By Pass. Extensive retaining walls were required to reduce the land take in the built up area of Eccles. In addition, one existing bridge had to be demolished, reconstructed and widened and an old railway bridge which used to carry the long abandoned Clifton Junction branch over the more recently disused Eccles-Wigan line had to be demolished. The Interchange required a further 2 underbridges and 5 overbridges in addition to one overbridge carrying an accommodation road requiring demolition and rebuilding. In addition, of course, there was the Thirlmere Bridge referred to on page 15, the subject of an advance contract.

Earthworks

It is possible to hazard an intelligent guess at the geology by looking at the man-made development of the area. A look at maps shows intensive development to the east of the Stretford-Eccles By Pass with a sharp cut-off indicating that the builders of old didn’t fancy developing to the west of that line. It is, however, necessary to be a little more technical.

The geology of the area indicates that the entire route overlay the solid rock of the Permo-Triassic age which was covered by both glacial and post-glacial deposits.

At the western end, the Interchange was sited on a deep pre-glacial valley which deepened considerably to the south. In this valley was a deep deposit of lacustrine clay overlaid by boulder clay. On the boulder clay was a varved lacustrine clay of extremely low shear strength with thin deposits of sand and gravel over most of the Interchange area. A high water table, some 18 inches below the surface, further affected conditions. As the Interchange was wholly on embankment with a maximum height of 30‘, it was necessary to excavate the varved clay, about 50,000 cu yds of it, where it outcropped at ground level and to replace it with rock. Where the varved clay did not come too near the surface it proved possible to produce stable embankments by the use of low-density filling materials with certain minimum cohesion properties. The selection of filling material was greatly facilitated by Lancashire’s experience with waste products because, in the south east of the county, there is little naturally occurring material. Unburnt colliery shale and pulverised fuel ash[21] were among the materials which Lancashire had used as filling for 10 years or more, both to remedy this deficiency and to benefit the environment, and they possessed the requisite cohesive properties.

Ground conditions improved along the length of the By Pass and only about 150,000 cu yds of the material excavated in the cuttings was unsuitable for re-use. Nearly 500,000 cu yds was re-used as fill and, of that, about half was sandstone rock. Most of the unsuitable material was deposited within the boundaries of the Interchange to assist in the landscaping. In order to minimise the effect of the work on the surrounding roads, most of the excavated material, whether suitable for use as filling or not, was required under the contract to be hauled from the east to the west through the site. On this route, of course, it had to cross the Bridgewater Canal, at the same time preserving access for canal traffic. The contractors achieved this by installing a sliding/retractable bridge across the canal.

The earthworks sub-contractors, Richards and Wallington, had around ten motor scrapers working all possible hours digging carting and depositing ‘muck’ and, in one location because of site constraints, the haul road built on the side of the embankment was very narrow. One day a scraper driver, standing in temporarily for the regular man who was having a break, on the narrow section saw a Land Rover coming off the bank onto the haul road. Neither of them could stop and the scraper driver had, perforce, to swerve over the edge. The scraper turned on its side but the driver was nowhere to be seen. He was eventually found some 20 yards away in an adjoining field having flown over the boundary fence still strapped firmly into his seat. Fortunately he was a big gentle Irish man and was probably the only man on site who consistently used his seat belt; as a result, he was unhurt though shaken and somewhat stirred.

Earthworks are a very weather-susceptible operation and it is always necessary to maximise the effort during good weather. During one such spell, the scrapers were supplemented by excavators and eight-wheeled trucks hauling unsuitable material to a small off-site tip. One nearly new truck bogged down on a part of the tip which had not been graded and the body turned onto its side while tipping. The driver made himself scarce. To retrieve the chassis, the owners cut the mountings separating the body from the chassis and off they went. When they later came back for the body, the tip and been finished and, as far as is known, the body is still in there to intrigue some latter-day archaeologist.

The bunter sandstone, towards the eastern end of the scheme, was very hard to excavate and had to be ‘ripped’ by a large Caterpillar D8 tractor using scarifying tines. Unfortunately, when it rained, the sandstone turned immediately to slurry with the result that, at one time, 3 scrapers and 1 D8 tractor became bogged down and had to be rescued by 2 further D8s working in tandem.

Drainage

The site of the Interchange was criss-crossed by existing watercourses all of which had to be diverted or culverted. Concrete pipes or bolted steel Armco sections were used, varying in diameter from 36” to 60” and they were connected to one main outfall in the south east corner of the Interchange.

On the By Pass itself, the positioning of the road, besides affecting side roads, also necessitated a number of major foul sewer diversions. The most significant of these involved the diversion of Eccles’ main sewer which crossed the Motorway at the point where it was in deep cutting in bunter sandstone. This diversion involved 1,000’ of 54” diameter tunnel lined with precast concrete segments up to 40’ below ground. The tunnel passed below the Liverpool-Manchester railway line to terminate in the main town shopping centre. The use of explosives was allowed under the contract but, near the 12th century Parish Church, it was necessary to revert to hand digging. The digging was carried out by gangs working from each end round the clock, each completing about ten feet of tunnel per day.

Structures

The contract as a whole required the construction of 26 bridges which are shown on the plan on page 19.

a)      Eccles Interchange[22]

The Interchange required the construction of 7 bridges under the main contract in addition to the Thirlmere Bridge, constructed under an advance contract as described on page 15 to carry the diverted Thirlmere Aqueduct over the Stretford-Eccles By Pass. The existing Grange Farm Bridge, an occupation bridge, was demolished and replaced under the main contract. The 7 main contract bridges were basically standardised and they were Gatley Bridge; Cleavly Bridge; Foxhills Bridge; Winton Park Bridge; Gilberts Bridge; Moss Cottage Bridge and Winton Main Bridge.

The decks of the 7 bridges were all of steel beam and reinforced concrete slab construction. Six of the bridges were founded on Raymond step-taper piles of lengths up to 70’ and the seventh utilised bored piles. 1,800 piles were installed for the Interchange bridges. Mining subsidence was anticipated after construction and jacking facilities were provided in the decks.

In order to keep the not inconsiderable volume of traffic on the existing motorway flowing, it was necessary to divert the two carriageways of the Stretford-Eccles By Pass to the east and to the west of the bridge sites utilising parts of the new slip roads and temporary links.

b)     Eccles By Pass

On the length of the By Pass, there were 5 underbridges, 3 overbridges, 5 pedestrian subways, 3 footbridges and an underbridge carrying the Regent Street link over the railway at the eastern end of the By Pass. Additionally a bridge carrying Worsley Road over Winton Brook had to be demolished, reconstructed and widened, and the railway bridge which had carried the disused Clifton Junction branch over the more recently closed Eccles-Tyldesley-Wigan railway line had to be demolished.

Details of the underbridges (carrying the motorway over roads, canals and railways) and overbridges (carrying roads over the motorway) are given in the following two tables.

Eccles By Pass Underbridges

Bridge

over

Construction

Span

Winton Grange Canal

Bridgewater Canal

Precast concrete beams.

Piled

97’ skew

Parrin

Worsley Road

Steel girders.

Piled

79’ skew

Westwood Park

Folly Brook

In situ reinforced concrete

14’

(533’ long)

Blantyre

Worsley Brook and

occupation road

In situ reinforced concrete

2 decks

16’

(250’ long)

Landsdowne Road

Landsowne Road

Prestressed concrete beams

32’

Regent Railway

Liverpool-Manchester Rly

Preflex beams cased in concrete. RC deck slab

up to 79’

Eccles By Pass Road Overbridges[23]

Bridge

under

Construction

Span(s)

Albert Road

Albert Road

Prestressed concrete beams

RC deck slab

2 x 58’

Hope East

Regent Street roundabout

Prestressed concrete beams

RC deck slab

2 x 58’

Polygon West

Regent Street roundabout

Prestressed concrete beams

RC deck slab

2 x 58’

In addition to road overbridges detailed in the above table there were three footbridges, Valley Footbridge; Ellesmere Park Footbridge and Clarendon Footbridge. The latter two utilised Preflex beam in reinforced concrete construction.

Approximately 1400 piles were used in the By Pass itself of which about one third were of the driven cased type with the remainder being bored cast in situ piles.

In going through a heavily built up area, it is essential to avoid unnecessary segregation between the two parts of the community on either side of the new motorway. In other words, a large number of linking bridges is required following as closely as possible the line of the existing roads and footways. This also reduces the land take required. During the construction of the By Pass, services, many of them important, in the existing carriageways had to be maintained as well as keeping traffic flowing and the planning of this aspect of the work demanded considerable effort. In order to finish the By Pass construction within the contract period, it was necessary to complete the structural work on these bridges over the By Pass within 15 months and this target was achieved. When bridges were being built over trafficked roads, the contractor used fibreglass reinforced permanent soffit shuttering to bridge deck slabs in order to minimise disruption to traffic and in the interests of public safety.

In addition to the bridges, 27 retaining walls were required varying in length up to 2500‘ and up to 30‘ in height. Some idea of the scale of the work may be gleaned from the fact that a total of some 75,000 cu yds of structural concrete were used.

Pavement

In the parts of the road, other than those in the rock cutting section of the By Pass, the motorway pavement was 20” thick. This thickness is made up of 8” of crusher-run stone sub-base, 8” of dense bitumen bound road base, 2½” of hot rolled asphalt base course and 1½” of hot rolled asphalt wearing course into which was rolled pre-coated granite chippings to provide a skid resistant surface. The whole length of the road was tested for bearing capacity and any strength deficiency was made up by thickening construction with extra sub-base.

All layers above the sub-base and below the wearing course had a limestone aggregate which is not suitable for use in trafficked surfaces because it polishes with wear. Lancashire’s policy was to use limestone as much as possible. This was because, in a county where naturally occurring road stone was scarce, limestone was the main indigenous rock.

In the rock cuttings, the construction consisted of 4” of cement-bound ‘wet mix’[24], 6” of dense bitumen bound road base and, as in other areas, a total of 4” of hot-rolled asphalt in two layers.

The hard shoulders throughout the scheme were surfaced with 3¾” of dense bitumen bound base course, again using limestone aggregate, topped with red Schlamme[25]. In this case, the limitations of limestone were, ultimately, to prove the death knell of this design concept for hard shoulders. When hard shoulders became intensively trafficked in the course of motorway maintenance work, the extent of which had not been envisaged, Schlamme was not durable enough for this type of use, certainly not on limestone. As the Schlamme wore, the limestone base course thus became the running surface and the potential for skidding accidents increased.

Unusual Features

As in the case of the geology and, to some extent, dictated by it, the contract was divided into two parts each with a different character, one rural and one urban. The site of the Interchange was essentially rural although the layout of the Interchange was more compact than would have been the case in an unrestricted site and there was the added complication of working on either side of a heavily trafficked motorway. The By Pass, however, was an urban motorway although its alignment was designed to rural motorway standards

The complexities of the side road diversions necessitated extensive diversion of services. Liaison with the statutory undertakers was well established before the start of the work and was maintained throughout with weekly meetings to discuss progress and to iron out mutual problems. The diversions required almost continuous working throughout the contract period by each of the statutory undertakers and in many cases this necessitated simultaneous laying by groups of undertakers in jointly planned and executed excavations.

To give some idea of the extent of the service work, the GPO laid some 7 miles of telephone cable duct of various sizes; the Manchester Corporation Waterworks Department laid about 1¾ miles of new water main varying in size between 4” and 15”; the North Western Electricity Board laid 3 miles of high and medium-voltage cable; and the North Western Gas Board laid 1½ miles of 3” to 18” gas main. This, of course, was additional to the sewerage work briefly described on page 22.

Occasionally things went slightly awry. The demolition of the old railway bridge which had carried the disused Patricroft-Clifton Junction line caused the contractor to bring in a demolition expert to blow the abutments with explosives. The first two attempts didn’t have a great deal of effect and, in desperation, they must have rather overdone the third. Calls from the public were not slow in coming, among them one from a large petrol depot some 100 yards away – their tankers were being bombarded by flying bricks!

Because of the highly urban nature of Eccles, relations with the public were of primary concern. Mention has already been made of the philosophy adopted throughout the planning stage to make relationships as good as possible and also of the help received from Eccles BC and their officers. This was continued during the currency of the contract at a rapidly intensifying rate. The installation of the 1400 permanent piles together with 32,500 sq ft of temporary steel sheet piling was bound to bring complaints at an early stage. The normal problems of mud and dust, inseparable from civil engineering work, were, of course, intensified in the urban surroundings. In spite of the thought which had gone into the issue at preparation stage, it was increasingly clear, as work gathered pace, that the volume of public relations work would be considerably greater than anticipated.

Despite all efforts to keep the public informed, site staff were surprised one day to find four elderly ladies waiting for a bus on the Wellington Road Diversion. At the time, the diversion was almost complete but, because of remedial works, was not yet open for traffic. The ladies were a little surprised to learn that the next bus was due in twenty-three days!

To relieve the site staff of much of the associated pressure, a recently retired senior engineer with many years experience of motorway construction was engaged to deal with complaints from the public and to advise on steps to be taken in mitigation. Regular ‘surgeries’ were held locally each week and frequent public meetings informed the public of progress and enabled residents freely to discuss problems which affected them with members of staff. In addition well over 4,000 circulars were issued locally to inform residents of progress. All this work proved successful in obtaining public acceptance of most of the inconvenience inseparable from the construction of a major road in a densely built up area. Among the manifestations of the success of all concerned in planning and carrying out the road works with the minimum of inconvenience to residents and others is the letter of appreciation received by the County Surveyor from the Superintending Minister of Immanuel Methodist Church following a meeting at the church. It was reported to the Highways and Bridges Committee of the County Council in April 1971 and is quoted in full in the opening brochure. I believe that it can and should be also quoted in part in this paper.

During the evening mention was made of the events of the past eighteen months while the Eccles Motorway has been under construction, and I was asked to acquaint you with the sentiments that were expressed. This I am happy to do.

In the first place, warm appreciation was expressed of the consideration we have been shown in the inevitable requisitioning of our premises. In all the negotiations concerning this, officials of your Department were unfailingly helpful and we feel we have been very fairly treated. The new premises which are being provided for us should prove adequate for our needs and will, we believe, enable us to continue our work in that part of the town.

Another matter mentioned in the meeting was the situation we had to face when part of our premises, chiefly the Church building, had to be demolished. The actual demolition was arranged in such a way as to cause us as little inconvenience as possible in the circumstances, and the help we received in modifying our remaining premises so that the work could continue until the new building is ready, was both prompt and generous. We felt that the members of your Department and the Contractors who worked under their direction, showed us every possible consideration and we desire you to know that we are very grateful.

The opening

It does, I think, no harm at this stage to point out, once again, that Eccles By Pass was a ‘County’ Motorway. It, and the Eccles Interchange, were planned designed and built under the supervision of the County Surveyor’s Department of the Lancashire County Council and the County Council was the Highway Authority for the By Pass[26]. In the circumstances, therefore, it was entirely fitting that the new motorway was opened on Wednesday 3rd November 1971 by County Alderman W D Cooper JP, the Chairman of the Lancashire County Council’s Highways and Bridges Committee. The Finance Committee of the County Council agreed that the attendance of members of the County Council who were not also members of the Highways and Bridges Committee at the opening ceremony would qualify as “approved duty” for “the payment of travelling expenses and appropriate allowances.” First things first!

W M Johnson

December 2002


[1] The larger municipal borough and urban district councils could claim to carry out such work and, not illogically were known as ‘claiming authorities’.

[2] These manifestations include the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation, the Department of Transport, the Department of the Environment and the Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions to name but a few. I shall tend to use the first named, or its abbreviation MoT, to describe any of these august bodies.

[3] ‘Surveyor’ is an old title, now extinct, for the chief Engineer of an authority.

[4] It is galling to one who knows the truth that, in Dr G Charlesworth’s comprehensively titled book A History of British Motorways (Thomas Telford 1984) he incorrectly names as Engineer to the Interchange contract “NWRCU” instead of the CS of LCC. I’m afraid that, whenever I consult this book, I find an error. Perhaps it’s just me. If you should consult it, however, bear in mind that, in the chapter headed Motorways in Urban Areas the author includes, for example, M25 but very few urban motorways.

[5] Told in my paper A627(M) The Rochdale-Oldham Motorway in the Motorway Archive held at the Lancashire County Record Office under catalogue number DDX2286, accession number 8962.

[6] If the word ‘Committee’ is used unqualified from now on in this paper, the Highways and Bridges Committee of the pre 1974 Lancashire County Council is intended.

[7] The Divisional Road Engineer was the senior North Western regional MoT representative based in Manchester.

[8] There was an original intention to number the Liverpool-Manchester motorway ‘M52’ but the current numbering makes more sense.

[9] Probably an arm of the Cement and Concrete Association, a pressure group largely funded by industry to promote the use of cement.

[10] A document, Lancashire Roads–Situation Report 1960, is contained in the Archive deposited in the Lancashire County Record Office, catalogue reference DDX2286, accession number 9035. It is in Box2, Policy and Promotion (2) 1951-88

[11] The more modern grouping of ‘Principal Road’ is roughly synonymous with ‘Class 1 road’ but not all Class 1 roads are Principal Roads.

[12] For some reason known only to the Treasury, the financial year runs from the first week in April. Despite the Treasury’s best efforts, the year is still only 12 months long.

[13] ‘made’ in this context seems rather final but it wasn’t. The scheme had to be confirmed by the MoT before it became effective.

[14] The Minister at the time was the redoubtable Barbara Castle MP.

[15] The word ‘compulsory’ is perfectly accurate but, as the CPO was used in Lancashire, gives a misleading impression. It was there as a back-up in case voluntary negotiations failed. Such negotiations continued even after the CPO had been obtained.

[16] Now part of the AMEC group.

[17] Beeching, a former CEO of ICI with no transport experience, was appointed by the Conservative Transport Minister, Ernest Marples, to produce a report rationalising the national railway system. His report comprehensively proposed closure for any line not making a ‘profit’ with little regard to the effect of that closure on other lines and no regard at all for the effect on transport as a whole.

[18] There had been another railway bridging over the Eccles-Wigan line at the point where the road and railway intersected. However, this Patricroft-Clifton Junction branch had long since been closed and did not affect the design of the road.

[19] The Section 11 Scheme and the Section 13 Order for the Eccles Interchange only came into effect on the 20th December 1968 and 10th January 1969 respectively.

[20] Such ‘precision’! 1p in 798,104,276p or 0.0000001253%! How do they do it – or why? It is not until September 1971 that I spotted in the Committee minutes that a tender for the construction of part of M62 had been accepted “in the sum of £15.9 million.” That’s more like it!

[21] Known colloquially as PFA or Fly Ash.

[22] Although ‘Eccles Interchange’ is the most logical name for this junction, it has also been described in Committee reports as ‘Cleavly Interchange’.

[23] The naming of bridges in general might repay future study. I wondered why the east and west bridges carrying the Regent Street roundabout were named Polygon West and Hope East? If, for some reason, Regent Street West  & East were unacceptable as names, why not Polygon West & East or Hope West & East? I am told that Polygon West was close to a road named The Polygon which was in Eccles whereas Hope East was just in Salford and the nearest landmark was Hope Hospital. I don’t think this explanation really helps. Why then, the ‘East’ and ’West’ suffixes?

[24] ‘wet mix’ was a graded aggregate mixed, in this case, with cement and with a small amount of water to prevent segregation in transit to the site.

[25] Schlamme was a red ‘slurry’ using bitumen emulsion and marketed by Tarmac Ltd (previously by Limmer and Trinidad Ltd) used, principally in Lancashire, to differentiate the hard shoulder from the remainder of the carriageway.

[26] In this case, strictly speaking, the County Council was the Special Roads Authority. A Motorway is, legally, a category of ‘Special Road’, i.e. a type of road from which certain classes of vehicles are excluded.

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