A1(M) Huntingdon to Peterborough

The archive includes the motorway from Junction 1 with the M25 in South Mimms to Junction 10 north of Baldock, length 23 miles and the length of 14 miles between Alconbury and Peterborough from Junction 14 to Junction 17.

Why has the A1 Great North Road not been improved to motorway status over its full length of some 400 miles, when it is a major north-south artery between London and Edinburgh? This appears perplexing, particularly as a scheme for a national motorway system submitted by the Institution of Highway Engineers to the Ministry of Transport in 1936 included a motorway between the north side of the London Orbital Motorway to the north of Hull as well as a motorway from the northwest side of the London Orbital Motorway to Leeds and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The answer could be said to be 'expediency'. The Minister of War Transport, the Rt. Hon. Alfred Barnes, announced in the House of Commons in 1946 the Government's proposals for a network of principal national roads incorporating 800 miles of motor roads and improvements of existing roads incorporating by-passes of urban areas, but generally with improvement in their present alignment. The A1 was shown in the latter category. This had the advantage that relief from traffic congestion by the construction of by-passes and improvements could be started without recourse to new legislation required for restriction of categories of vehicles and access on motorways. However, the policy of by-passes and on-line improvements had the disadvantage that smaller communities which were not considered to merit a by-pass still had to endure the heavy traffic on this important artery.

In May 1956, Rt Hon. Harold Watkinson, Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, pronounced that the Government intended to transform the A1 into a major north-south road link designed to cope with modern traffic conditions. The preparation of schemes for the provision of dual carriageways to replace the existing narrow and winding single carriageway lengths of the A1 was allocated to County Councils as Agents to the Ministry.

In Huntingdonshire, for example, the programme consisted of the provision of a dual carriageway for 28 miles of the A1 Great North Road from Eaton Socon, west of St Neots, to the River Nene at Wansford, north-west of Peterborough. The earliest length to be completed was the 5½ miles from Alconbury Hill, north-west of Huntingdon to the B660 road, near Conington. It was opened to traffic in 1957 and incorporated a unique constructional experiment by the County Council in conjunction with the Roads Research Laboratory of the Department Scientific and Industrial Research. This extended over 2½ miles of the northbound carriageway and has provided most useful basic data on the performance under traffic of a wide range of thicknesses and strengths of the layers of rigid and flexible road pavements.

Stilton Bypass, south of Peterborough, opened to traffic by Rt Hon Harold Watkinson on the 21st July 1958, was the first bypass to be completed on the A1 subsequent to the Minister's pronouncement. This section of the ancient Roman Road, Ermine Street, and later post-road between London, York and Scotland, has the added distinction of being part of the route on which the first Turnpike Road Act of 1663 applied, with Stilton one of the first three locations authorised for the collection of tolls in the Act.

The earliest length of the A1 to be opened as a motorway, following the procedure laid down in the Special Roads Act 1949, was Stevenage Bypass in May 1962. Its length is 7 miles, with Hertfordshire County Council as Agent Authority, Main Contractor Martin Cowley with a tender price of £1.8 million. This was followed by Baldock Bypass in July 1967, also 7 miles long, with Herts C C as Agent Authority, Main Contractor A Monk with a tender price of £3.5 million.

In 1959, the Government decided that improvement of the A1 between South Mimms and Welwyn should be examined as a whole and in 1962 the Minister of Transport announced that this would form a continuous motorway. The A1 (M) Lemsford - Welwyn length of 3 miles was opened in May 1973 under the aegis of the Eastern Road Construction Unit (Herts Sub-Unit), Main Contractor A F Budge, tender price £2,2 million. The length of 3 miles between South Mimms and Roestock, south of Hatfield, was opened in May 1979, also under the aegis of ERCU (Herts SU), Main Contractor Higgs and Hill, tender price £3.6 million.

This left the length of 3 miles of the A1 between Roestock and Stanborough incorporating the Hatfield Tunnel, ¾ mile long, which was opened by the Duke of Kent in December 1986. This complex scheme is described elsewhere.
Alconbury Peterborough

A1(M) Alconbury to PeterboroughThe other length of the A1 in the Eastern Region which has been improved as a motorway is on the Alconbury to Peterborough stretch, opened in October 1998 by Lord Whitty. This follows the corridor of the Stilton Bypass which catered for all-purpose traffic, but moves the alignment eastwards away from the village.

This improvement to motorway standard was needed primarily for safety reasons. It was the busiest length of the A1 which had not been raised for motorway standard. In 1961 it carried over 50,000 vehicles a day, of which about 1 in 5 were lorries; there was extensive congestion at peak times with regular queues of traffic up to five miles long; traffic was expected to double over the next 30 years; existing side road and property accesses were a source of danger to local and through traffic.

The total length of motorway is about 14 miles, with four lanes northbound and southbound, each with hard shoulder between Alconbury Hill and Norman Cross. Safety for through and local traffic is improved by the provision of a separate local road system.

Tenders for the project were invited in May 1995 under the new procedures on a "Design Build Finance and Operate" basis over a 10-year period. Tenders were returned by February 1996 and the successful tenderer, (Road Management Services, a joint venture of AMEC, Alfred McAlpine, Brown & Root and the Spanish firm Dragados) was appointed in April 1996, with work starting in May 1996.

Under the terms of this "DBFO" contract, payment is made in stages over the 30-year period based upon automatic continuous counting of the number of vehicles (shadow tolls). There is no stopping of vehicles and no payment of tolls to the drivers of vehicles it will be no different from a conventional motorway. The contract embodies performance incentives to provide a high level of service, ensure liaison with interested parties and protection of the environment. This private financing has enabled the upgrading of the A1 to take place earlier than would be possible under previous public financing arrangements.

A(1)M Part of the A1 Strategic North - South Link

List of material held in the Northamptonshire CC Record Office


The full archive for this scheme is stored at:

Northamptonshire Record Office, Wootton Hall Park, Northampton, NN4 8BQ

Its accession number is: 2003/86

The Office may be contacted by phone on 01604-762129, by fax on 01604-767562, or by Email



Motorway Archive/Eastern Region/A1(M)/


    • Booklet, Official Opening of A1 Stilton Bypass by The Rt Hon Harold Watkinson, Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, 21st July 1958, 7pp

    • Site Brochure, A1(M) Motorway, Roestock to Stanborough, Hertfordshire County Council Publication, 1985?, 1p

    • Site Brochure, A1(M) Motorway, Roestock to Stanborough, What's Happening?, 1984, 1p

    • Journal, A1(M) Tunnel at Hatfield. A Motorway and Redevelopment Package. The Department of Transport View, D I Evans, A County View, M F Hardy, A District View, L Asquith, Highways and Transportation Journal, December 1986, pp 4 to 12, tota19pp

    • Photos, A1(M) Hatfield Tunnel Open Day, October 1986, 17 no Aerial View After Construction, 1990, 3 no

    • Press Notice, New A1(M) Section Will Aid Communications with The North, Peter Bottomley, 10 December 1986, 3pp

    • Folio, The Hatfield Redevelopment Area, Invitation Document, September 1983, 10pp and 2 plans

    • Folio, A1(M) Hatfield Tunnel, The Galleria-Retailing's Magnificent Obsession, 9pp 2 folios and 5 plates

    • Press Notice, A1 to become Motorway, Cecil Parkinson, 3 July 1990, 3pp

    • Cutting, A1 will be new M-way, Cambridge Evening News, 3 July 1990, 1p

    • cutting, Go-ahead for £1bn A1 upgrade, Construction News, 5 July 1990, 1p

    • cutting, A1 survey under way, Baldock-Alconbury, Cambridge Evening News? 17 August 1990, 1p

    • Brochure, A1 Improvement South of Brampton Hut, Opening 10th December 1990, 2pp

    • Brochure, A1 (M) Motorway Baldock to Alconbury, Motorway Proposals, Explanation of Scheme for Public Consultation, 22nd September 1994, 6 fold sheet

    • Brochure, A1(M) Motorway, Peterborough to Stamford and Stamford Bypass, Public consultation, Highways Agency, Autumn 1994, 6 fold and 2 fold sheets

    • Brochure, A1 London to Peterborough, Route Management Strategy, Public Consultation, Autumn 2001, Highways Agency,4 fold and 3 fold sheets

    • Notes, talk to Women's Institute audience of about 300 at annual Huntingdon and Peterborough Federation meeting on A1 Motorway and other roads in the Huntingdon and Paterborough area, D I Evans, 8th April 1997, 9pp and other pamphlets

    • List and Drawings, Abstract of print list from Cambridgeshire Shire Hall, 2pp, Plan and Longitudinal Section, Huntingdonshire County Council for A1 Great North Road schemes from Alconbury Bypass to Conington, 1961?, 22 sheets

    • Text and illustrations, A1 Alconbury to Fletton Parkway Widening, Landscape Appraisal, Cambridgeshire County Council, August 1990, 46 approx plus copies

    • Photos, A1 Alconbury to Fletton Parkway, footpath locations with descriptions, 6 sheets, 3 footpaths on each

    • Drawings, A1 Alconbury to Fletton Parkway, Scheme plans, 17 approx

    • Drawings on film, A1 Alconbury to Fletton Parkway, Statutory Order plans, 25 approx

    • Cutting, The Road to Danger, Plans to upgrade A1 stretch to motorwas, Hunts Post, 8th January 1987, lp

    • Leaflet, New Agents for Area 8 Trunk Road Maintenance and Improvement Starting April 1997, Highways Agency, 3 fold

    • Leaflet, A1 Norman Cross Improvements, Department of Transport, Invitation of Comments, March 1990, lp

    • Brochure, A1 Motorway, Alconbury to Peterborough, explaining and inviting emquiries about motorway proposal, Department of Transport, 1990?, 3 fold

    • Report, A1 Motorway, Alconbury to Peterborough, Environmental Statement, Department of Transport, 1991. 95pp plus 14 figures

      Documents on deposit for public at Public Inquiries:

    • Notice, A1 Alconbury to Fletton Parkway Improvement, Opening Statement on behalf of the Department of Transport, October/November 1991, (PET 1/1), (Public Inquiries started September 1992), 2pp

    • Folder No 1. The A1 Trunk Road, Alconbury to Fletton Parkway Improvements (including B660 Glatton Junction), Public Notice, Explanatory Statement, Schemes and orders, 8 sections

    • Folder No 2, The A604 Trunk Road, Alconbury to A1 Improvements, Public Notice, Explanatory Statement, Schemes and Orders, 7 sections

    • Folder No 3, The A1 Trunk Road Alconbury to Fletton Parkway Improvements, Public Notice, Explanatory Statement, Order, 3 sections

    • Statement by the Department of Transport's Representative for A1 Alconbury to Fletton Parkway Improvement, B660 Glatton Junction Improvement, A604 Alconbury to A1 Improvement regarding the Upgrading of the Existing Trunk Road to Motorway Standard, Side Road Proposals and the Draft Compulsory Purchase Orders at Public Inquiries opened on 29 September 1992, (D1 and PET 1/2), 47 pages

    • A: Folder of Press Notices, (D2), 3 no, 253 A1 to become Motorway - Cecil Parkinson, 3 July 1990, 4pp. E146/91 A1 Upgrading to Motorway between Alconbury and Peterborough 23 October 1991. 4pp. ET69/92 Public Inquiries for A1 Improvements Alconbury to Peterborough, 6 August 1992, 2pp

      B: Loose-leaf, Proposed Modifications to the Draft Side Roads Orders--Description, (PET 1/3) 9pp

      C: Spring-bound, Proposed modification to the Draft Side Roads Orders - Plans, (PET 1/3A), 30pp

    • Booklet, Policy for Roads in England: 1983, Department of Transport, HMSO Cmnd 9059, ISBN 0 10 190590 4, (D3a), 53pp

    • Copy of Booklet, Policy for Roads in England:1987,1, Department of Transport, HMSO. (D3b) 14pp

    • Copy of Booklet, Policy for Roads in England:1987,2, Trunk Road Construction Programme, Department of Transport, HMSO, (D3b) 55pp

    • Copy of Booklet, Roads for Prosperity: 1989, Department of Transport, HMSO, Cm 693, (D3c), 20pp

    • Copy of Booklet, Trunk Roads, England. Into the 1990's, Department of Transport, HMSO, ISNB 0 11 550952 6, (D3d), 78pp

    • Extract from 38 above, 20pp and 35 above, lp

    • Extra copy of Public Notice in 29 above (D5), 9pp

    • Copy of covering letter and Public Notice, llpp

    • Sheet, A1 Motorway, Alconbury to Peterborough, Environmental Statement, Non-technical Summary, September 1991, (D6), 5 fold (See full Report at 27 above)

    • Statutory document, Highways Act1980, Chapter 66, HMSO, Reprinted 1988, (D12), 358pp

    • Booklet, Getting the best roads for our money, The COBA Method of Appraisal, Department of Transport, (D13), 28pp

    • Tome, Amendments to COBA Manual, (D14), 71pp plus 7 sections

    • Folder, Quadro 2 Manual for Traffic Forecasts, 1989, (D15), 6 sections

    • Folder, Manual of Environmental Appraisal, 1983, (D22), 11 sections

    • Note, Manual of Environmental Appraisal, Assessment of Visual Intrusion, Note on Current Practice, 1988, (D22a), 2pp

    • Booklet, Road Layout and Geometry: Highway Link Design, Departmental Standard TD9/81, 1986, (D25), 110pp approx

    • Leaflet, Police Observation Platforms on Motorways, Departmental Standard TD10/81, (D25b), 5pp

    • Leaflet, Use of Certain Departmental Standards in the Design and Assessment of Trunk Road Schemes, Departmental Standard TD11/82, (D25c), 4pp

    • Leaflet, Frameworks for Trunk Road Appraisal, Departmental Standard TD12/83, (D25d), 7pp

    • Leaflet, The Geometric Design of Roundabouts, Departmental Standard TD16/84, (D25e), llpp

    • Leaflet, Criteria for the Provision of Closed Circuit Television on Motorways, Departmental Standard TD17/85,(D25f), 4pp

    • Leaflet, Criteria for the use of Gantries for Traffic Signs and Matrix Traffic Signals on Trunk Roads and Trunk Road Motorways, Departmental Standard TD18/85, (D25g), 5pp

    • Leaflet, Safety Fences and Barriers, Departmental Standard TD19/85, (D25h), 15pp

    • Leaflet, Design of Road Lighting for Motorway Trunk Roads, Departmental Standard TD34/91, (D25i),llpp

    • Leaflet, Layout of Grade Separated Junctions, Departmental Standard TD22/86, (D25j), 28pp

    • Leaflet, Cross Sections and Headroom, Departmental Standard TD27/86, (D25k), 15pp

    • Leaflet, Loads for Highway Bridges, Departmental Standard BD37,88, (D25m),86pp

    • Leaflet, The Assessment of Concrete Highway Bridges and Structures, Departmental Standard BD44/90, (D25n), 113pp

    • Leaflet, Junctions and Accesses; Determination of Size of Roundabouts and Major/Minor Junctions, Departmental Advice Note TA23/81, (D26a), 61pp

    • Leaflet, Junctions and Accesses: the Layout of Major/Minor Junctions, Advice Note TA20/84, (D226b), 88 approx

    • Leaflet, Deflection Measurement of Flexible Pavements, Departmental Advice Note HA/25/83, (D26c), 15pp

    • Leaflet, Choice between Options for Trunk Road Schemes, Departmental Advice Note TA30/82, (D26d), 31pp

    • Leaflet, Edge of Pavement Details, Departmental Advice Note HA39/89, (D26e), 20pp

    • Leaflet, Edge of Pavement Details, Deprtmental Advice Note HA39/89, (D260), 48pp

    • Leaflet, Highway Link Design, Departmental Advice Note TA43/84, (D26g), 126pp approx

    • Leaflet, Capacities, Queues and Delays at Road Junctions, Departmental Advice Note TA 46/85, (D26h), 4pp

    • Leaflet, Traffic Flows and Carriageway Width Assessment for. Rural Roads, Departmental Advice Note TA46/85, (D26i), 16pp

    • Leaflet, Layout of Grade Separated Junctions, Departmental Advice Note TA46/86, (264), 29pp approx

    • Leaflet, Approval of New and Replacement Lighting on Trunk Road Motorways, Departmental Advice Note TA43/86, (D26k), 37pp approx

    • Leaflet, Roadside Features, Departmental Advice Note TA57/87, (D261), 59pp

    • Leaflet, Noise Barriers - Standard and Materials and Amendment No 1, Technical Memorandum H14/76, (D30), 23pp

    • Letter, Routes for Heavy and High Abnormal Loads, Department of the Environment. 7 November 1972, 2pp plus 2 maps

    • Proof, A1 Trunk Road (Alconbury to Fletton Parkway Improvement), Traffic and Economic Issues, Proof of Evidence by Michael John Hampton, (PET1/4), 18pp

      A: Attachments to the Evidence, (PET1/4A),16pp

    • Proof of Evidence of the Department of Transport's Landscape Witness on the Draft Landscape Proposals, A1 Trunk Road ("), (PET1/5), 27pp

      A: Appendices and maps with 77, (PET1/5A)/12pp

    • Proof of Evidence on Agriculture, ("), (PET1/6), lOpp

    • Proof of Evidence on Planning and Environment Issues, ("), (PET1/6), lOpp

    • Proof of Evidence on Air Quality Issues ("), (PEI1/8), 20pp

    • Proof of Evidence on Noise Issues, ("), (PET2/1), 33pp

    • Proof of Evidence on Alternative Proposals Suggested by objectors, 4pp

    • Citizens' Charter, Cambridgeshire County Council, Road Building, Traffic and Road Safety, Public Transport, Maintaining our Roads, llpp

    • Leaflet, A1 Motorway, Alconbury to Peterborough, Road Management Services (Peterborough) Limited, Map of the Scheme and Description, What's happening to the A1? What will it look like? 2 fold

    • Folder, Opening of the new A1(M) Motorway Alconbury to Peterborough, Press Notice, Press Cuttings, Literature on Design, Build, Finance and Operate (DBFO) projects, environmental aspects, maps and aerial photo, 31 October 1998. 85pp approx

    • Brochure, A1(M) Alconbury to Peterborough, DBFO road improvements, Highways Agency/RMG project completion,October 1998, 3 fold

    • Report, Sample Trenching at Norman Cross, Cambridgeshire, 1990-91, An Archaeological Evaluation, Ian Meadows, Archaeological Officer, Peterborough City Council, 4pp

    • Report, Archaeological Evaluations at South Farm, Upton, near Huntingdon, T Sutherland, Cambridgeshire County Council, 1995, 8pp

    • Report, Archaeological Evaluation at Toon's Lodge, Haddon, E Guttman, Cambridgeshire County Council, 1995, 5pp

    • Report, Evaluation of the Roman Road at Sheep Lair Farm, Folksworth, S N Kemp, Cambridgeshire County Council, 1995, 27pp

    • Report, Further Archaeological Evaluation at Shep Lair Farm, Folksworth, T Sutherland, Cambridgeshire County Counci1,1995, 9pp

    • Report, Archaeology on the A1 between Alconbury and Fletton Parkway, Stage 3 Assessment, Volume 1, S Kemp and T Reynolds, Cambridgeshire County Council, 1995, 33pp

    • Report, ", Volume 2, 229pp approx

    • Folder of Press Releases/Cuttings etc, Pupils' letters and drawings after Ray Powell's visit 1992, A1 Alconbury to Fletton Parkway Widening, period 1989 to 96, about 5 cm thick

    • Paper, East Coast Route Catalyst, R Lane, D I Evans and P F Wilkes, Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Civil Engineering: September 1992, p158 to 165, 8pp inc illustrations (A report of the investigation of the feasibility of a new north-south road in Eastern England some 230 miles long between Cambridgeshire and Tyneside)

Contract details:

Section Length Engineer Contractor Cost
South Mimms to Roestock (J1 to J2) 3m Herts Sub-unit Higgs & Hill £3.6m
Roestock to Stanborough (J2 to J4) 3m Herts CC Tarmac (now Carrilion Construction) £36.9m
Stanborough to Welwyn (J4 to J6) 3m Herts Sub-unit A F Budge £2.2m
Stevenage By-pass (J6 to J8) 7m Herts CC Martin Cowley £1.8m
Baldock By-pass (J8 to J10) 7m Herts CC A Monk £3.5
Alconbury to Peterborough (J13 to J17) 14m DBFO contract: AMEC, A McAlpine,Brown & Root & Dragos ?