M63 (Now M60) Sale Eastern and Northenden By-pass, and Sharston By-pass (J2/J7)

The construction of the section of the M62 Lancashire-Yorkshire Motorway between Worsley and Whitefield had formed, in effect, part of the proposed Manchester Outer Ring Road, as a north easterly extension of the Stretford Eccles By-pass. Progress around the southern and eastern parts of the periphery of the conurbation was, however, much slower, with programming largely influenced by financial restraints. The principle of constructing a series of local by-passes to form elements of the Ring Road was, therefore, adopted. Sale Eastern and Northenden By-pass, together with Sharston By-pass were such schemes.

Prior to 1967, the design of the Sale Eastern and Northenden By-pass was the responsibility of the three highway authorities through whose areas the road would pass, namely the Manchester City Council, which employed G Maunsell and Partners as Consulting Engineers, and the Lancashire and Cheshire County Councils.

When the Ring Road became a Trunk Road, responsibility was transferred to the North Western Road Construction Unit of the Department of the Environment, with the design of the 4 miles of the route from Stretford to north of the Glazebrook-Godley railway line in Gatley shared by the Lancashire and Cheshire Sub Units of the North Western Road Construction Unit and by G Maunsell & Partners.

The obvious route for the By-pass was through the mainly undeveloped corridor of the River Mersey Valley. Several possible alternatives were investigated before the decision was taken to adopt an alignment along the southern edge of the Valley, skirting the residential development. This route was found to be the most economic and one which kept, to the minimum, disturbance to property, and the recreational areas in the Valley, consistent with the need for a standard of design appropriate to a motorway.

From the end of the Stretford-Eccles By-pass, the motorway would cross over Chester Road (A56), the River Mersey, the Bridgewater Canal and the Manchester-Altrincham electrified railway line. Continuing in a south eastwards direction, it would be generally on embankment through to the crossing of Princess Parkway a major radial route, formerly built to near urban motorway standards, and serving the City of Manchester.

The main engineering problem in deciding to build a motorway through the Mersey Valley - partly across the actual flood plain of the river - was the need to keep above the flood level of the river. In order to achieve this, the motorway had to be built mainly on high embankment with only short lengths in cutting.

The flood plain itself is made up of post-glacial materials such as normally consolidated alluvium and terrace gravels. Below the recent deposits, the 'solid' rocks of the Triassic system were found at depths of from less than 20 feet to more than 60 feet. The measures necessary to deal with these recent deposits were important features of the project: on the one hand how to use them as a source of fill and, on the other, how to construct an embankment up to 40 feet high without causing failure either to the embankment or to the very weak alluvium below.

In addition there was the problem of finding some 2 million cubic yards of material which would need to be imported. If it had been brought in from sources outside the site, the result would have been large numbers of heavy lorries transporting material along already congested local roads.

It was proposed, therefore, that material for the embankments should be excavated from an area between the motorway and the River Mersey known as the Sale Ees, and the use of this material resulted in substantial savings in cost. The excavation was to be permanently filled with water from the river, with the intention that the Greater Manchester Council and Trafford Borough Council would develop it for recreational purposes. It also would provide the Mersey and Weaver River Unit with increased flood storage capacity.

On Sale Ees, large scale laboratory tests showed that a skeletal system of vertical sand drains would accelerate settlement of the motorway embankment and reduce both the amount of temporary overfilling and the period for which it would be required. An advance contract was carried out to provide this 'skeleton' and install the system of piezometers necessary to measure the pressure of the groundwater in the soil beneath the embankment, and to control the rate of its construction so that there was no risk of a slip occurring in the soil beneath.

Another technical problem inherent in planning a motorway through the Valley was the need for repeated crossings of the River. The route chosen on the south side involved fewer points of crossing then any alternative but, even so, it crossed the course of the River five times. However, by diverting a loop of the River near Didsbury Golf Course, clear of the motorway, the need for two of these crossings was removed with a considerable saving in cost. This diversion was carried out in advance of the motorway construction by the Mersey and Weaver River Authority.

Three interchanges were required, at Chester Road (A56) in Stretford, at the Hardy Lane Extension in Sale, and at Princess Parkway (A5103).

The By-pass required the construction of 35 bridges, various culverts and retaining walls and a piled raft.

The principal bridges forming the Princess Parkway Interchange were of either single or double spine box post-tensioned structures. The requirement that there should be no bridge piers in the central reserve of Princess Parkway, resulted in the main spans of the crossing being of the order of 115 feet.

The Palatine Road viaduct has eight and nine spans carrying the west and east bound carriageways of the motorway over Palatine Road and the River Mersey.

The first major contract, undertaken in advance, included the construction of two slip roads and a fly-over bridge in the Chester Road Interchange, and bridges over the Mersey Overflow Channel. Work began in May 1971 and this was followed by the main Contract in February 1972.

Meanwhile advance works for the construction of Sharston By-pass had also begun. This scheme, designed by Howard Humphreys & Sons, Consulting Engineers, was primarily designed to relieve Sharston by removing traffic from several major traffic routes passing through the area. It was, however, an important element in the further development of the M63.

The first of the two main contracts began in January 1972. The most significant feature was the construction of the major Kingsway Interchange which provides a junction between M63, M56 and the A34 (Kingsway) a main radial route between central Manchester and the South.

To the west of the Interchange a half-mile section of motorway completed the Sale Eastern and Northenden By-pass and, to the east, the M63 was extended for a length of over a mile to a junction with the A560.

The major part of Sharston By-pass, however, connecting with the Bowden-Wythenshaw Section of the M56, formed the eastern end of that motorway. The western half of this two mile length of the By-pass was constructed under a further contract extending from a two-level interchange at the junction with Sharston Road. Works in this contract began some 12 months later to enable the re-siting of various business premises, mostly shops.

Extensive bridge engineering was involved, much of it concentrated at the Kingsway Interchange. The majority of the 27 bridges required, had to be designed as 'one-off' structures because of the restricted nature of the site, with little scope for standardisation.

A major bridge was needed to carry the dual-carriageway Kingsway, widened by slip roads, over the M63 and slip roads. It had to be constructed on the line of Kingsway with as little disruption as possible to the heavy commuter traffic. This was achieved by designing and constructing the four-span bridge in separate 75 feet and 40 feet widths. The decks are continuous in-situ reinforced concrete slabs, carried on precast reinforced concrete columns which were, in turn, placed in 5 feet diameter cased holes on top of piles. The abutments are formed by concrete faced contiguous reinforced concrete bored piles. This method of construction obviated the need to complete the full depths of general excavation before completion of the structure, with consequent considerable temporary support works.

A ten-span viaduct was designed to carry the south-east slip road over the motorway, the west-south and west-north slip roads, and Kingsway. It is a continuous trapezoidal spine box girder composite with an RC deck slab which cantilevers each side of the box. The bridge is on a horizontal curve of a radius of 500 feet, and the deck is supported on single rectangular reinforced concrete cantilever columns with flared heads, enlarged below ground and supported on spread footings. The end supports are three-leg reinforced concrete skeletal abutments with cantilevered reinforced concrete return wing walls.

The bridge carrying the M56 over the Cheadle link railway line, and the M63 over the Glazebrook-Godley railway line and the eastbound carriageway of the M56, both have a skew of 61°. The decks are of reinforced concrete, composite with steel Universal Beams spanning square between the abutments and pier in the centre, and steel box girders in the triangular edge areas.

The bridge carrying the Styal railway line over the motorway, was designed by British Rail and constructed under their supervision. This is a three-span continuous prestressed concrete through girder bridge with 8 foot deep edge beams. The complete deck was built alongside the track and launched sideways into position in a single track possession, the excavation under the bridge taking place subsequently.

The Merrison Committee's interim report on box girder bridges was published after the bridge designs had been completed and the contract was about to go out to tender. This required a complete reappraisal of the steel box girder bridges resulting in some design modifications which were completed by the contract starting date.

The high motorway embankments adjacent to the bridge carrying the M63 over the Glazebrook-Godley railway line are situated in the flood plain, where a layer of alluvium was found in the initial soil survey at depths varying from 5 to 15 feet. Preliminary studies indicated that the placing of embankments over 20 feet in height would require extra care. Piezometers to control the rate of construction were installed under the embankments and provision was made for varying rates of placement fill. The fill material used in the embankment up to flood level about 10 feet in height was free draining and, above that, pulverised fuel ash (PFA) was used as a lightweight filling. Approximately 750,000 cubic yards of material was excavated and placed in embankments and some 550,000 cubic yards of material was imported as filling to embankments.

The Sale Eastern and Northenden By-pass was opened to traffic in September 1974. The M63 section of Sharston By-pass, together with the Kingsway Interchange, was however completed in January 1974 and the remainder, in May 1975.

2003. A widening scheme.

In March 2003 AMEC-Alfred McAlpine joint venture was awarded a £102 million design and build contract to improve the section of the M60 between Junction 5 at Northern Moor and Junction 8 at Stretford. The joint venture was required to finalise design details before starting work in July 2003. Although completion was due by February 2006, the completed scheme did not open until (?)August 2006(?). The 7.4 kilometre section of motorway - which was originally part two lane and part three lane - was widened by one lane in each direction with the addition of a parallel link road between Junction 6 and 8, to reduce congestion on both the motorway and local road network.

In addition to widening the motorway, the existing parallel link road between Junctions 7 and 8 was extended to Junction 6 to improve safety and traffic flow for vehicles along this section. The four existing junctions were also improved.



Archive Information


Vol. 6 M60 Junction 7, A56 to Junction 24, Denton


The full archive information for this scheme is stored at the Cheshire CC Record Office.  Click to see details of this record office, then delete the popup page to return. 

Its Accession Number is 06115, and its Class Reference is D6115. 


Junction 7 to Junction 4 Sharston



Map of Area 15, Trunk Road Network, with M60 Junction nos



Map of Greater Manchester with original Junction nos



Key Plan of the Sale Eastern & Northenden By-Pass



Recollections of Design and Construction by Peter F Johnson formerly of Consultants G.Maunsell and Partners



Construction Commentary by A P Howcroft, Resident Engineer



Construction Commentary by J.G.Jellicoe, Contractors Agent.



Completing the M60 by Neil Hewitt



Brochure Sale Eastern and Northenden By-Pass published during construction



Brochure Sale Eastern and Northenden By-Pass at opening by W.A.Downward, Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester



List of drawings held at the offices of G.Maunsell and Partners



List of documents held in the Library of the Maunsell U.K.Group



Four Coloured Aerial Photographs


Junction 4 to Junction 2, Cheadle. Sharston By-Pass



Brochure Sharston By-Pass & Interchange



Article in "The Consulting Engineer " April 1975


Junction 2 to Junction 27. Stockport East-West By-Pass



Brochure Stockport East West By-Pass April I980



Contract Details



Brochure at opening by David Howell MP on 30th July 1982


Junction 27 to Junction 24, Denton



Design Details by N.D. Smith



Construction Commentary Junction 27 to Junction 25. Not yet available



Construction Commentary Junction 25 to Junction 24. Not yet available



M63 Bredbury Bypass. Firm Programme Report October 1972



M63/M66 Portwood to Denton Preliminary Report. Part 1. Technical Appraisal Report



M63/M66 Portwood to Denton Preliminary Report. Part 1. Technical Appraisal Report FIGURES



M63/M66 Portwood to Denton Firm Programme Report November 1980. Volume 1



M63/M66 Portwood to Denton Firm Programme Report November 1980. Volume 2. Appendices.



M63/M66 Report of Local Inquiry Nov 1985



M63/M66 Brochure during construction 1988



M63/M66 General details of Rail Bridge No 70A



M63/M66 Extract from Parkman Review



Extract froth Parkman Review, Summer 1986 Vol 2 No 2 with reference to the Widening of Barton Bridge and the M63 /M66 new construction



Black and White Construction photographs on M66



Brochure M63/M66 Portwood to Denton at opening on 28th April 1989



Photograph at opening by Paul Channon, Minister of Transport



Article from Trident,Mersyside Chamber of Commerce June 1989



M63/M66 Photographs prior to construction



M63 Portwood to Brinnington Vidimus. Volumes 3A,3B,4A,4B,5



M63 Portwood to Brinnington Contract Documents Volumes 1,2,3



M66 Brinnington to Denton Vidimus. Volumes 3A,3B(Rigid),3A,3B(Flexible),5



M66 Brinnington to Denton, Contract Documents. Volumes 2,3A,4,5



Brinnington Maintenance Compound. Bills of Quantities



As Constructed Drawings Nos 4143/63/0Z8/01,8/02,8/03,8/04,8/05,8/06,8/07,8/08. 4143/ 63/0Z15/05, 15/06,15/07



M63 Progress Meeting Minutes Nos 1 to 20



Key Dates

M63 Sale Eastern and Northenden By-pass, and Sharston By-pass (J2/J7)
Statistics and options

Section Construction started Opened to traffic
Sale Eastern/Northenden By-pass February 1972 September 1974
Sharston By-pass January 1972 May 1975
Widening Junction 5 to Junction 8 July 2003 June 2006