London Ringways

  (Redirected from Ringway 3)

Plan of Ringways 1, 2, 3 and 4

The London Ringways were a series of four ring roads planned to circle London at various distances from the city centre. They were part of a comprehensive scheme developed by the Greater London Council (GLC) to alleviate traffic congestion on the city's road system by providing high speed motorway-standard roads within the capital linking a series of radial roads taking traffic into and out of the city.


The Ringways originated from earlier plans including the County of London Plan, and were developed in the 1960s in response to increasing concern about car ownership and traffic. The plans attracted increasing opposition towards the end of the decade over the demolition of properties and noise pollution the roads would cause. Following a series of protests, the scheme was cancelled in 1973, at which point only three sections had been built.[1] Some traffic routes originally planned for the Ringways were re-used for other road schemes in the 1980s and 1990s.



The Great West Road was an early 20th century attempt to solve traffic congestion around London

London had been significantly congested since the 17th century. Various select committees were established in the late 1830s and early 1840s in order establish means of improving communication and transport in the city. The Royal Commission on London Traffic (1903–05), produced eight volumes of reports on roads, railways and tramways in the London area, including a suggestion for "constructing a circular road about 75 miles in length at a radius of 12 miles from St Paul's".[2]

Between 1913 and 1916, a series of conferences took place, bringing all road plans in Greater London together as a single body. Over the next decade, 214 miles (344 km) of new roads were constructed, primarily as post-war unemployment relief. These included the North Circular Road from Hanger Lane to Gants Hill, Western Avenue and Eastern Avenue, the Great West Road bypassing Brentford, and bypasses of Kingston, Croydon, Watford and Barnet.[3] In 1924, the Ministry of Transport proposed another circular route, the North Orbital Road. This ran further out from London than the North Circular and was planned to be around 70 miles (110 km) long, running from the A4 at Colnbrook to the A13 at Tilbury.[4]

The Highway Development Survey, 1937Edit

In May 1938, Sir Charles Bressey and Sir Edwin Lutyens published a Ministry of Transport report, The Highway Development Survey, 1937, which reviewed London's road needs and recommended the construction of many miles of new roads and the improvement of junctions at key congestion points.[5] Amongst their proposals was the provision of a series of orbital roads around the city with the outer ones built as American-style Parkways – wide, landscaped roads with limited access and grade-separated junctions.[5][6]

Bressey's plans called for significant demolition of existing properties, that would have divided communities if they had been built. However, he reported that the average traffic speed on three of London's radial routes was 12.5 miles per hour (20.1 km/h), and consequently their construction was essential.[5] The plans stalled, as the London County Council were responsible for roads in the capital, and could not find adequate funding.[7]

County of London Plan and Greater London Plan, 1940sEdit

One of Abercrombie's proposed inner ring roads, as shown in the 1945 Ministry of Information documentary film The Proud City.

The Ringway plan had developed from early schemes prior to the Second World War through Sir Patrick Abercrombie's County of London Plan, 1943[8] and Greater London Plan, 1944. One of the topics that Abercrombie's two plans had examined was London's traffic congestion, and The County of London Plan proposed a series of ring roads labelled A to E to help remove traffic from the central area.[9]

Even in a war-ravaged city with large areas requiring reconstruction, the building of the two innermost rings, A and B, would have involved considerable demolition and upheaval. The cost of the construction works needed to upgrade the existing London streets and roads to dual carriageway or motorway standards was considered significant; the A ring would have displaced 5,300 families.[10]

Because of post-war funding shortages, Abercrombie's plans were not intended to be carried out immediately. They were intended to be gradually built over the next 30 years. The subsequent austerity period meant that very little of his plan was carried out. The A Ring was formally cancelled by Clement Attlee's Labour government in May 1950.[10] After 1951, the County of London focused on improving existing roads rather than Abercrombie's proposals.[11]

Ringway Scheme, 1960sEdit

By the start of the 1960s, the number of private cars and commercial vehicles on the roads had increased considerably from the number before the war. British car manufacturing doubled between 1953 and 1960.[12] The Conservative government, led by Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, had strong ties to the road transport industry, with more than 70 members of parliament being members of the British Road Federation. Political pressure to build roads and improve vehicular traffic increased, which led to a revival of Abercrombie's plans.[13]

The Ringway plan took Abercrombie's earlier schemes as a starting point and reused many of his proposals in the outlying areas but scrapped the plans in the inner zone. Abercrombie's A Ring was scrapped as being far too expensive and impractical.[14] The innermost circuit, Ringway 1, was approximately the same distance from the centre as the B Ring. It used some of Abercrombie's suggested route, but it was planned to use existing transport corridors, such as railway lines, much more than before. The location of these lines produced a ring that was distinctly box-shaped and Ringway 1 was unofficially called the London Motorway Box.[15]

In 1963, Colin Buchanan published a report, Traffic in Towns, which had been commissioned by the Transport Minister, Ernest Marples. In contrast to earlier reports, it cautioned that road building would generate and increase traffic and cause environmental damage. It also recommended pedestrianisation of town centres and segregating different traffic types. The report was published by Penguin Books and sold 18,000 copies. Several key ideas in the report would later be perceived as being correct as road protesting grew from the 1980s onward.[16] The London Traffic Survey was published the following year, and concluded that the Ringways should be built in order to cater for future network traffic, instead of Traffic in Towns which said if a road was not built, there would be no demand along that route anyway.[17] The 1960s plans were developed over a period of several years and were subject to a continuing process of review and modification. Roads were added and omitted as the overall scheme was altered and many alternative route alignments were considered during the planning process.[18] The plan was published in stages starting with Ringway 1 in 1966 and Ringway 2 in 1967. After the Conservatives won the GLC elections in the latter year, they confirmed that both Ringways would be constructed as planned.[19]

The plan was hugely ambitious and almost immediately attracted opposition from several directions.[20] Ringway 1 was designed to be an eight-lane elevated motorway running through the middle of Camden Town.[21] A principal problem was the route of Ringway 2 in south London, since the South Circular was largely an unimproved series of urban streets and there were fewer railway lines to follow. Parts would be built with four lanes in each direction, and in some cases there was no other plan than to destroy whatever urban streets were in the way of the new road.[20] At Blackheath, the road would have run in a deep-bored tunnel to avoid any impact on the local area, at an estimated cost of £38 million.[22] However, until around 1967 the opposition was more towards specific proposals instead of the concept of Ringways generally.[23]

The report Motorways in London, published in 1969 by the architect/planner Lord Esher and Michael Thomson, a transport economist at the London School of Economics, calculated that costs had been enormously underestimated and would show marginal economic returns. They predicted large quantities of additional traffic that would be generated purely as a result of the new roads.[24] Access to the new roads would soon be overwhelmed even before the rings and radial roads were near capacity, while about 1 million Londoners would find their lives blighted by living within 200 yards of a motorway.[25] Reports suggested between 15,000 and 80,000 Londoners would lose their homes as a result of the Ringways.[26] The Treasury and the Department of Transport both came out against the scheme, primarily because of worries over the cost.

Despite this opposition, the GLC continued to develop its plans, and began the construction of some of the parts of the scheme. The plan, still with much of the detail to be worked out, was included in the Greater London Development Plan, 1969 (GLDP) along with much else not related to roads and traffic management. In 1970, the GLC estimated that the cost of building Ringway 1 along with sections of 2 and 3 would be £1.7 billion.[27] (approximately £26.5 billion today)[28] Three-quarters of this would have to come from central government grants.

In 1970, the British Road Federation surveyed 2,000 Londoners, 80% of whom favoured more new roads being built.[29] In contrast, a public enquiry was held to review the GLDP in a climate of strong and vocal opposition from many of the London Borough councils and residents associations that would have seen motorways driven through their neighbourhoods. The Westway and a section of the West Cross Route from Shepherd's Bush to North Kensington, opened in 1970. It showed the public what the Ringways would be like for local residents and what demolition would be required, and led to increased complaints over the scheme. The GLDP received 22,000 formal objections by 1972.[30] The GLC realised that the South Cross Route might be impractical to build, and looked instead at integrating public transport through a new park-and-ride scheme at Lewisham that would serve a new Fleet line on the London Underground.[31]

The GLC attempted to hold on to the Ringway plans until the early 1970s, hoping that they would eventually be built.[32] By 1972, in an attempt to placate the Ringway plan's vociferous opponents, the GLC removed the northern section of Ringway 1 and the southern section of Ringway 2 from the proposals.[33] In January 1973, the enquiry recommended that Ringway 1 be built, but that much of the rest of the Ringway schemes be abandoned.[34] The project was submitted to the Conservative government for approval and, for a short period, it appeared that the GLC had made enough concessions for the scheme to proceed.[35] A report around this time commissioned by Frank Layfield showed that the GLDP was too dependent on roads for its transport plans.[36] Because the GLC had proposed the Ringways as a complete scheme, protesters against specific parts of it in different areas were able to unite against a common goal, which led to the Layfield Inquiry successfully challenging the proposals.[23]

The Labour party made large gains in the GLC elections of April 1973 with a policy of fighting the Ringways scheme. Given the continuing fierce opposition across London and the likely enormous cost, the cabinet cancelled funding and hence the project.[37][30]

Ringway 1Edit

Plan of Ringway 1 showing the parts of the central area scheme that were built. Blue lines are roads built as planned, red lines those built later. Roads shown in grey were never built.
The East and North Cross Route junction at Hackney Wick. The sliproad in the centre is the only part of the North Cross Route to be constructed

Ringway 1 was the London Motorway box, comprising the North, East, South and West Cross Routes.[38] Ringway 1 was planned to comprise four sections across the capital forming a roughly rectangular box of motorways. These sections were designated:

Much of the scheme would have been constructed as elevated roads on concrete pylons and the routes were designed to follow the alignments of existing railway lines to minimise the amount of land required for construction. Nevertheless, the disruption and widespread demolition required to build the Ringway would have been considerable.

Ringway 1 was expected to cost £480 million (£7.48 billion today) including £144 million (£2.18 billion today) for property purchases. It would require 1,048 acres (4.24 km2) and affect 7,585 houses.[39] In 1970 the GLC set aside £1.7 billion (approximately £26.5 billion today[28]) for the construction of about half of the Ringways.

The only elements of Ringway 1 that were constructed were:

  • Part of the West Cross Route between North Kensington and Shepherds Bush which was opened by Michael Heseltine in 1970, simultaneously with Westway, to loud protests; some residents hung a huge banners with 'Get us out of this Hell – Rehouse Us Now' outside their windows and protesters disrupted the opening procession by driving a lorry the wrong way along the new road.[40]
  • The East Cross Route, including a new 'eastern bore' for the Blackwall Tunnel opened between 1967 and 1979.[41]

The North Cross Route began south of Willesden Junction and followed the London Overground line up to the line of the M1, then between the Midland main line and Metropolitan line, with a link to Finchley Road. It passed through Hampstead owing to local geography, and over British Rail's goods depot at Camden Town, where there was to be an interchange with a town bypass. It followed railways to the north of St Pancras and King's Cross, then run in a tunnel through Highbury, and cross Kingsland High Street on a viaduct, leading to a junction with the East Cross Route by Hackney Wick.[42]

The whole of the East Cross Route was built and follows the A12 to Bow Road, then the A102 through the Blackwall Tunnel to the Sun in the Sands roundabout, and the A2 to Kidbrooke, meeting the South Cross Route.[43]

The South Cross Route ran beneath Blackheath Park in a tunnel, following railways as much as possible for its route though Peckham, Loughborough Park and Clapham to Nine Elms. There was then a link to the West Cross Route and Ringway 2 at Wandsworth.[44]

The West Cross Route followed the West London line, with a bridge over the Thames near Chelsea Basin. There was a planned interchange with the A4 Cromwell Road and Holland Park Avenue. The section north to the Westway was built. North of here, it would have continued to follow the West London line, crossing the Great Western railway and the Grand Union Canal, linking with the North Cross Route by Willesden Junction.[44]

Ringway 2Edit

Plan of Ringway 2 as proposed in late 1960s
Ringway 2 was planned to run though Oxleas Wood

Ringway 2 was an upgrade of North Circular Road and a new motorway to replace the South Circular Road,[45] which, in the 1960s, were sign-posted routes circling the capital through the suburbs on mostly standard roads selected by route planners in the 1930s. Ringway 2 would have headed roughly in a direction towards the North Circular Road at Chiswick, though there was no definite proposed route.[46] Much of the Ringway, particularly the southern section where a new route was required, would have been placed in cuttings to mitigate disruption to local residents.

Northern sectionEdit

The North Circular Road was to have been improved to motorway standard along its existing route with the designated motorway number set to be M15. In the years since the Ringways Plan was cancelled most of the route has been upgraded, some of it close to motorway standard, but this has been done in a piecemeal manner. Whilst most of the route is now a six lane dual carriageway with grade separated junctions other parts remain at a much lower standard.

At the western end of the North Circular a new section of motorway would have been constructed to take the route of Ringway 2 eastwards from the junction with the M4 at Gunnersbury along the alignment of the railway line through Chiswick to meet and cross the River Thames at Barnes.

The route of the eastern section of the North Circular Road south from the A406's junction with the M11 to the junction with the A13 (the "South Woodford to Barking Relief Road") was built on the planned motorway alignment and the section between South Woodford and Redbridge roundabout (A12 junction) was, for a time, temporarily designated as part of the M11.

At its eastern end, Ringway 2 was planned to have crossed the River Thames at Gallions Reach in a new tunnel between Beckton and Thamesmead. Although this tunnel was never built, the utility of an additional river crossing in this area continued to be recognised during the decades after the Ringway Scheme's cancellation and various proposals for an "East London River Crossing" have been developed, the most recent of which was the Thames Gateway Bridge, cancelled in 2008.

Southern sectionEdit

The South Circular Road was in the 1960s, and remains still, little more than an arbitrary route through the southern half of the city following roads that are mainly just single carriageway. The road planners considered the existing routing unsuitable for a direct upgrade so a new replacement motorway was planned for a route further to the south where the road could be constructed with less destruction of local communities.

Starting in the London Borough of Greenwich at the southern end of the new tunnel in Thamesmead, the planned route for the new southern section of Ringway 2 would have first interchanged with the A2016 then headed south, first through Plumstead towards Plumstead Common and then, via open land, to Shooters Hill Road (A207). Controversially, the route was then planned to cross the ancient woodland of Oxleas Wood and the adjacent Shepheardleas Wood to connect to the "Rochester Way Relief Road" (A2) at a junction at Falconwood.

Heading south from the A2, Ringway 2 would have crossed golf courses and sports grounds west of Avery Hill to reach the A20 at Mottingham where its next junction would have been constructed. Next, heading west out of the London Borough of Greenwich, the motorway would have briefly crossed the northern tip of the London Borough of Bromley, via another group of playing fields before entering the London Borough of Lewisham to connect to the A2212 near Grove Park station. Here the route encounters the first substantial urban development cutting an alignment through the London County Council's Downham Estate – land already in public ownership, thereby avoiding the need for expensive land purchases and compensation payments. Here the motorway would have run parallel with Shroffold Road and Durham Hill to cross Downham Fields then run parallel with Downham Way to meet Bromley Road (A21) where the next junction would have been located.

West of Bromley Road, Ringway 2 would have followed a westerly alignment, crossing the River Ravensbourne, and running across more sports fields and the northern corner of Beckenham Place Park to a junction with Beckenham Hill Road (A2015) near Stumpshill Wood where it would have left the London Borough of Lewisham and re-entered the London Borough of Bromley.

From Beckenham Hill Road, Ringway 2 would have continued through more open land towards Lower Sydenham station where the motorway would have turned south to run along the side of the railway line past New Beckenham station to the point where the railway crosses the River Beck and then the main railway line from Victoria station. Here the route would have followed the railway line (now occupied by Tramlink) south-west towards Birkbeck station where a junction would have been built to connect to Elmers End Road (A214).

Continuing along the railway line south-west of Birkbeck station, the motorway would have skirted the northern side of Beckenham Cemetery and entered the London Borough of Croydon. Here Ringway 2 would have had an interchange with another of the new motorways planned by the GLC, the "South Cross Route to Parkway D Radial" coming south-east along the railway line from Crystal Palace station. Like Ringway 2 this road was never built.

Continuing west, the route would have crossed Penge Road (A213) and the railway line to Norwood Junction. Next, it would have passed across a residential section of South Norwood. Here the roads are not aligned to afford an easy route for a motorway and demolitions would have been required to provide a passage for it to reach Whitehorse Lane where it would have turned south-west again to follow the road for a short distance before turning west again just north of Selhurst Park stadium.

Crossing waste ground and the southern tip of Grangewood Park, a junction would then have been built with Grange Road (A212). More demolitions would have been required to the north of Thornton Heath town centre for the Ringway to meet another railway line at Thornton Heath station. Ringway 2 would have turned to follow the railway north-west towards Norbury. At Norbury a junction would have been provided with the A23 before continuing north-west into the London Borough of Lambeth and on towards Streatham. South of Streatham Common station, Ringway 2 would have left the alignment of the railway to head west across Streatham Vale and Abercairn Road to a junction built on a triangle of railway land and allotments where it would have met the end of the M23 coming north from Mitcham.

Having entered the London Borough of Merton and again taking the easiest alignment, the Ringway would have continued along the railway line to Tooting. A junction with the A24 would have been provided at the south end of Tooting High Street. Between there and Haydons Road station the motorway would have turned north through the industrial area of Summerstown then crossed over the main railway line to Waterloo station adjacent to the River Wandle.

Entering the London Borough of Wandsworth, the Ringway would have taken a route through Southfields via the parks and playing fields on the west side of the Wandle until it reached Buckhold Road where it would have cut a north-west alignment through the residential area of west Wandsworth to reach a junction with West Hill (A3) and Upper Richmond Road (A205).

Ringway 2 would have followed Upper Richmond Road to East Putney from where it would have run alongside the railway line through Putney and into the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. It would have followed the railway across Barnes Common then over the River Thames adjacent to Barnes Railway Bridge to meet the northern section.

In 1970 the GLC expected the 25-mile (40 km) long southern ring to cost £305m, including £63m for property purchases. It would require 1,007 acres (4.08 km2) and affect 5705 houses.[47]

Ringway 3Edit

Ringway 3
The A312 Parkway in Cranford is on the planned route of Ringway 3

Ringway 3 was a new road, the north section of which became part of the M25 from South Mimms to Swanley via the Dartford Crossing.[48] It was intended for traffic bypassing London, and was a Government scheme outside of the remit of London County Council. The route was roughly based on the earlier "D" ring designed by Patrick Abercrombie.[49] The southern section was never planned in detail, so a specific route does not exist. The section in West London was eventually built to a lower standard as the A312.[48]

Ringway 3 was planned to link the capital's outer suburbs linking areas such as Barnet, Epping, Dartford, Purley and Chessington. Construction began on the first section of the motorway between South Mimms and Potters Bar in 1973 and the motorway was initially designated as the M16 motorway before its opening.

Whilst the construction of the first section was in progress, the plan for Ringways 3 and 4 were modified considerably. Broadly speaking, the northern and eastern section of Ringway 3 (from the current junction 23 of the M25 motorway with the A1 east and south to the current junction 3 with the M20) was to be built and connected to the southern and western section of Ringway 4 to create the M25. The remaining parts of the two rings became redundant.

The South Mimms to Potters Bar section (junction 23 to junction 24) was opened in 1975, temporarily designated as an A-road (A1178). The remaining sections of the northern Ringway 3 were constructed over the next eleven years: the M25 motorway was completed in 1986 with the opening of the Ringway 4 to Ringway 3 linking section from Micklefield to South Mimms (junction 19 to junction 23).

One part of Ringway 3 in west London was eventually built as The Parkway/Hayes Bypass (A312).

Ringway 4Edit

Ringway 4

Ringway 4 was new road, the south section of which became part of the M25 and M26 from Wrotham Heath to Hunton Bridge. Sections of the A405 and A414 through Hertfordshire are on the proposed line of Ringway 4.[50] Ringway 4 was planned as a new rural motorway/dual carriageway connecting a number of towns around the capital including Sevenoaks, Redhill/Reigate, Leatherhead, Staines, Uxbridge, Watford, St Albans, Hatfield, Hertford and Hoddesdon.

Despite its name, the route of Ringway 4 did not make a complete circuit of London. It was, instead, U-shaped. The planned route started at a junction with the M20 motorway (then also being planned) near Wrotham in Kent and ran west as motorway around the capital to Hunton Bridge near Watford. From Watford, the road was to become dual carriageway heading east until it met Ringway 3 near Navestock in Essex. The designation for the motorway section was M25.

Construction began on the first section of the motorway between Godstone and Reigate (junctions 6 to 8) in 1973 and included a junction with the M23 motorway which was under construction at the same time.

Whilst the construction of the first section was in progress, the plan for Ringways 3 and 4 was modified considerably. Broadly speaking, the motorway section of Ringway 4 was to be built and connected to the northern and eastern section of Ringway 3 (from the current M25 junction 23 with the A1 clockwise to the current junction 3 with the M20). Two additional sections of motorway were added to the plan to join the two original sections and the remaining parts of the two rings were cancelled. The south-eastern section of Ringway 4 between Wrotham and Sevenoaks was redesignated as the M26.

for more information on the route of the southern and western sections of Ringway 4, see M25 motorway

Except for a deviation from the original plan around Leatherhead, the current M26 and the M25 between junctions 5 and 19 mostly follow the planned route of Ringway 4.

The Godstone to Reigate section was opened in 1976 and the remaining sections of the southern Ringway 4 were constructed over the next ten years.

One short section of the dual-carriageway portion of Ringway 4 was constructed in Hoddesdon linking the town to the A10. The overly large junction between the link road and the A10 was built with space available to continue the road westward over the A10 as originally planned.


Ringway 1Edit

Elevated junction of the West Cross Route and Westway at White City looking north-west shortly after construction. The continuation of the West Cross Route would have passed under the roundabout with the stubs from the roundabout linking to the northern slipways.

In the central London area only the East Cross Route and part of the West Cross Route of Ringway 1 were constructed together with the elevated Westway which links Paddington to North Kensington.[51] These were all begun and completed before the plan was cancelled. With its elevated roadway on concrete pylons flying above the streets below at rooftop height, the Westway provides a good example of how much of Ringway 1 would have appeared had it been constructed.[52][53] The East Cross route was the only part to be built in its entirety and it includes a permanently unfinished junction at Hackney Wick with the proposed North Cross Route.[43]

Ringway 2Edit

Southwyck House in Brixton was specifically designed to shield the noise from Ringway 2

The North Circular Road (A406) section of Ringway 2 survived the cancellation of the Ringways. It remained a trunk road and a 5.5-mile (8.9 km) extension from South Woodford to Barking had land reserved from 1968.[54] This extension was approved in 1976, and opened in 1987.[54][55] Improvements have been made to the existing North Circular, so that most of it is now dual carriageway. However, these have been done in a piecemeal fashion so that the road varies in quality and capacity along its length and still has several unimproved single carriageway sections and awkward junctions.[56]

By comparison, very little has been done to improve the condition of the South Circular Road (A205) (which has complex junctions and forks) and no part of the southern part of Ringway 2 has been built, mainly because of the density of the residential areas through which the South Circular runs. The road remains predominantly single carriageway throughout.[57][58] One relic of the scheme is Southwyck House in Brixton, which was deliberately designed to shield noise from Ringway 2, leading to its nickname of "Barrier Block".[59]

Other RingwaysEdit

Parts of Ringways 3 and 4 were started soon after Ringway 1 was cancelled. The first section of the northern half of Ringway 3 was constructed between South Mimms and Potters Bar and opened in 1975. The first section of Ringway 4 was built between Godstone and Reigate and opened the following year.[60] Before the first of these opened, the planned north and east sections of Ringway 3 and the planned south and west sections of Ringway 4 were combined as the M25 (the northern part was initially designated as the M16 during the planning stages but opened as the M25). The remaining sections of these two circular routes were never built.[61]


Uncompleted London-bound slipway from the A23 to the unbuilt M23 north of junction 7, showing an unused bridge

The M23 was particularly affected by the cancellation of the Ringways. The original plan had been to connect it to Ringway 2 near Streatham, and when the Ringway was cancelled, it was extended to meet Ringway 1 near Stockwell. Once the Ringways were cancelled completely, there seemed little point in finishing the M23 as it would drop all its traffic onto suburban streets.[62]

However, the M23 up to Streatham remained a projected route throughout the 1970s, and appeared on some road atlases of the time. The Wallington M23 Action Group campaigned for the motorway to be formally cancelled, as the inability to develop land along the line of the proposed M23 had led to planning blight in the area.[62] In 1978, the M23 north of Hooley was cancelled, to be replaced by an all-purpose relief road replacing the A23. Some residents complained, saying the motorway should still be built, and that its terminus at Hooley caused a build up of traffic there, and contributed to congestion on other roads. These proposals were cancelled in May 1980.[63]

The M23 to Streatham was briefly revived in 1985 by the GLC after the government had announced plans to spend £1.5 billion on trunk roads in London.[64] In December 2006, the Coulsdon Relief Road was opened by the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone. It was one of the few road proposals approved by the anti-car Livingstone, and included a dedicated lane for buses and cycles.[65]


Some of the radial routes that were planned to connect to the Ringway system were built much as planned, including the M1 and M4.[66][67] Other radial roads, such as the M3, M11 and M23, were truncated on the outskirts of London far from their intended terminal junctions on Ringway 1.[68][69][70] Others were simply not built at all in a form recognisable from the Ringway proposal.

Later eventsEdit

Coulsdon Relief Road

In 2000, Transport for London (TfL) was formed, taking responsibility for all related projects in Greater London, including roads. They did not have responsibility for maintaining any motorways, so the built parts of the Westway and West and East Cross Routes were downgraded to all-purpose roads.[51] TfL has concentrated primarily on improving public transport in London and discouraging the use of private cars where practical.[71] The only new road constructed by TfL has been the Coulsdon Relief Road.[72]

The feedback and complaints from the Ringway plans led to an increased interest towards road protest in the United Kingdom. These included opposition to transport projects such as Twyford Down and Heathrow Terminal 5 and industrial projects such as Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.[73]


The Ringway plans were largely made in secret, and in some cases no definitive route was made, which has made it difficult to work out its exact route and impact. Consequently, the project is not particularly well known to the general British public.[21] The website, run by enthusiast Chris Marshall, has been praised for its level of detail in researching the Ringways, and cited as a definitive source of information.[74][21]

See alsoEdit

London ring roadsEdit


London orbital railwaysEdit


  1. ^ "Within London, a few fragments had been built: the Ringway 1 East Cross Route was complete by the early 1970s, and the A40(M) Westway and a short stub of the West Cross Route were open to traffic before the GLDP inquiry halted the plans." – Marshall, Chris. "Ringways – Background – Epilogue". CBRD. Archived from the original on 11 April 2016. Retrieved 13 February 2009.
  2. ^ Barbour 1905, p. 33.
  3. ^ Asher 2018, pp. 12–13.
  4. ^ Asher 2018, p. 13.
  5. ^ a b c Asher 2018, p. 15.
  6. ^ "Highway Development Survey (1937)". Archived from the original on 14 May 2009.
  7. ^ Asher 2018, p. 18.
  8. ^ "The County of London Plan, 1943: 'this new world foreshadowed'".
  9. ^ Asher 2018, p. 19.
  10. ^ a b Asher 2018, p. 21.
  11. ^ Asher 2018, p. 23.
  12. ^ Asher 2018, p. 25.
  13. ^ Asher 2018, pp. 27–28.
  14. ^ Marshall, Chris. "Ringways – Background – Post-war and beyond". CBRD. Archived from the original on 11 April 2016. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
  15. ^ Baily, Michael (7 January 1969). "London's Motorway Box Controversy – Investing in an answer to more and more traffic". The Times (57452). p. 7. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  16. ^ Asher 2018, pp. 40–41.
  17. ^ Asher 2018, p. 41.
  18. ^ "Ringways – Background". Archived from the original on 11 April 2016. Retrieved 13 February 2009.
  19. ^ Asher 2018, pp. 53,56.
  20. ^ a b Asher 2018, p. 53.
  21. ^ a b c Beanland, Christopher. "London: Roads to nowhere". The Independent. Retrieved 8 February 2011.
  22. ^ Dnes 2019, p. 202.
  23. ^ a b Dnes 2019, p. 214.
  24. ^ Asher 2018, p. 80.
  25. ^ Baily, Michael (23 October 1969). "Experts condemn London ringway scheme". The Times (57698). p. 4. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  26. ^ Moran 2009, p. 202.
  27. ^ Baily, Michael (19 August 1970). "Road programme cost estimated at £1,700m". The Times (57948). p. 3. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  28. ^ a b UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  29. ^ Hart 2013, p. 167.
  30. ^ a b Haywood 2016, p. 178.
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