M65. Calder Valley Motorway

Proposals for a new route along the Calder Valley did not feature in the Road Plan for Lancashire 1949. Several reasons account for this, namely that, i) it was envisaged that, the Liverpool-Leeds Trunk Road A59 along the Ribble Valley, to the north of the Calder Valley, would be improved by the provision of local by-passes of places such as Clitheroe and Whalley, and ii) historically the textile manufacturing towns of North East Lancashire had a close relationship with Manchester, as the commercial centre for the industry and, therefore, improved north-south communications were of greater significance.

In 1967, the Ministry of Housing and Local Government commissioned a study to assess the effect of the proposed Central Lancashire New Town upon the towns of the Calder Valley, extending as far as Colne. The report on this study, known as the 'Impact Study', was published in 1968. It indicated the need for a new route connecting the towns lying between Colne and Blackburn, with the New Town and the national motorway system.

Following publication of the Report, the Lancashire County Council and the Blackburn and Burnley County Borough Councils jointly carried out the 'North East Lancashire Project Study' (NELPS). Completed in 1969 it recommended the construction of the route, now known as the Calder Valley Motorway M65.

In 1970, the Minister of Transport accepted responsibility for the proposed route as far as Burnley, in that it would supersede the existing A59/A6119/A677/A679 Trunk Road route. At Rose Grove, Burnley, the A646 Trunk Road extended that route in a south-easterly direction into Yorkshire.

Between Burnley and Colne, the A56 passing through Brierfield and Nelson was the existing main traffic route along that part of the Calder Valley and, as a Principal Road, it was the responsibility of the two local highway authorities, the Lancashire County Council and the Burnley County Borough Council. It was agreed, however, that the preparation and design of that section of the proposed M65, which would supersede the A56 along the Valley, would be undertaken by the County Council.

North East Lancashire has a long history of industrial development. Even the agricultural areas between the closely-spaced communities frequently conceal legacies of past mining, quarrying and tipping. The nature of the terrain made it difficult to select a line which would provide a route of the required motorway standard and cause the least interference with existing land uses. In consequence, it was necessary to align the motorway in close proximity to the East Lancashire railway line and the Leeds and Liverpool canal, often using derelict land and areas of poor ground previously avoided by developers.

The sketch plan below shows the sections described in the summaries of the M65, related to their current junction numbers. You may click on any section to bring up the appropriate page.


Key Dates

M65. Calder Valley Motorway
Statistics and options.

Section Construction started Opened to traffic
M6 to Whitebirk. West of Stanworth March 1994 December 1997
M6 to Whitebirk. East of Stanworth March 1995
Whitebirk to Hyndburn January 1983 December 1984
Hyndburn to Burnley August 1981 December 1983

NOTE: Because of the complexities of funding and building the Burnley to Colne section (a Highway Authority scheme), there were a number of advanced contracts on each of the sections, which are not included below.

Burnley to Brierfield March 1978 October 1981
Brierfield to Nelson August 1982 December 1983
Nelson to Colne November 1986 September 1988