M1 motorway

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Geography of Great Britain; Road transport

M1 motorway
Length 190.8 miles
307.1 km
Direction South - North
Start London
Staples Corner
Primary destinations Watford
St Albans
Hemel Hempstead
Milton Keynes
End Aberford
Construction dates 1959 - 1999
Motorways joined 6A -
M25 motorway
7 -
M10 motorway
17 -
M45 motorway
19 -
M6 motorway
21 -
M69 motorway
32 -
M18 motorway
42 -
M62 motorway
43 -
M621 motorway
48 -
A1(M) motorway
E 13
The M1 motorway heading south towards junction 37 at Barnsley,   South Yorkshire.
The M1 motorway heading south towards junction 37 at Barnsley, South Yorkshire.

The M1 is a major north-south motorway in England connecting London to Yorkshire, where it joins the A1(M) near Aberford. While the M1 is considered to be the first inter-urban motorway to be completed in the United Kingdom , the first road to be built to motorway standard in the country was the Preston Bypass, which later became part of the M6 .

The motorway is 193 miles (310 km) long and was constructed in four phases; the majority of the motorway was opened in 1959 and between 1965 and 1968. The two ends of the motorway were extended later; the southern end in 1977 and the northern end in 1999.

It forms part of the unsigned European route E13.


First Section, 1959

The first section of the motorway opened between junction 5 ( Watford) and junction 18 ( Crick/ Rugby) on 2 November 1959 together with the motorway's two spurs, the M10 (from junction 7 to St Albans) and the M45 (from junction 17 to the A45 and Coventry).

This section of the M1 broadly follows the route of the A5 north-west. It started at the Watford Bypass ( A41), which runs south-east to meet the A1 at Apex corner, and ended on the A5 at Crick. The M10 spur motorway connected the M1 to the North Orbital Road ( A405/ A414, a precursor of the M25) where it also meet the A5 (now renumbered here as the A5183) and, two miles to the east via the A414, to the A6 (also renumbered as the A1081).

Rugby to Leeds, 1965 to 1968

The continuation of the motorway from junction 18 towards Yorkshire was carried out as a series of extensions between 1965 and 1968. Diverging from the A5, the motorway takes a more northerly route through the East Midlands, via Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham to Sheffield where the M18 splits from the M1 at junction 32 to head to Doncaster.

Originally, the M1 was planned to end at Doncaster; however, it was decided to make what was going to be the "Leeds and Sheffield Spur", the primary route with the 11 mile section to the A1(M) south of Doncaster given a separate motorway number.

From junction 32, the motorway passes between Sheffield and Rotherham, passes to the west of Barnsley and Wakefield and reaches the original end of the motorway at junction 44 to the east of Leeds. There were plans to route the M1 from just south of junction 42 where it interchanges with the M62, round the west of Leeds to the A1 at Dishforth; however the existing route to the east of Leeds was selected. With the M62 and M621, the M1 forms a ring of motorways around Leeds.

Leeds South Eastern Urban Motorway, 1972

In 1972 an extension of the M1 was opened into central Leeds over as the Leeds South Eastern Motorway where it met the Leeds South Western Motorway (M621) coming north-east from the M62 at junction 3.

Leeds to Hook Moor, 1999

Between 1996 and 1999 the M1 section north of the M62 underwent a major reconstruction and extension to take the M1 on a new route to the A1(M) at Aberford. The new road involved the construction of a series of new junctions, bridges and viaducts to the east of Leeds. When the new section of M1 was completed and opened in 1999, the Leeds South Eastern Motorway section of the M1 was redesignated as the M621 and the junctions were given new numbers (M621 junctions 4 to 7).

London extensions, 1966, 1967 and 1977

The M1 was extended south from its original starting point at junction 5 towards London in three stages. The first stage, opened in 1966, took the motorway south-east, parallel to the A41 to meet the A5 at junction 4 south of Elstree. The second phase continued east to Scratchwood (where the London Gateway Service Area occupies the location of the missing junction 3 from where an unbuilt spur would have connected to the A1 at Stirling Corner), then south to run alongside the Midland Main Line towards Hendon where it meets the A1 again at junction 2 via a tightly curved flyover section.

The current junction 2 is about 600 metres south of the original junction. Southbound traffic originally left the motorway via a slip road which passed under the A1 Barnet Bypass and looped round to join it. The northbound slip road from the A1 is now partially used as the entrance way to a business park but no longer reaches the northbound carriageway as it is cut off by the motorway continuing south.

The final section of the M1 was opened to junction 1 at Staples Corner in 1977. There the motorway meets the North Circular Road (A406) at a grade separated junction and roundabout. Plans made in the 1960s would have seen the motorway continue through the junction on an elevated roadway to end at West Hampstead where it would have met the North Cross Route, the northern section of the London Motorway Box, a proposed ring of urban motorway around the central area. The layout of the Staples Corner junction was originally built in accordance with these plans although most of the London Ringways Plan had been cancelled by 1973.


The first motorway service station in the UK was built at Watford Gap and later immortalised in song by Roy Harper.


M1 at Junction 4
M1 at Junction 4
M1 Motorway
Southbound exits Junction Northbound exits
A406: North Circular J1 Start of Motorway
A1: The City J2 No Access
London Gateway Service Area
A41: Edgware J4 No Access
A41: Harrow
A4008: Watford
J5 A41: Aylesbury, Watford
A405: North Watford J6 A405: St Albans, Heathrow Airport, Harlow
M25: Harlow, Dartford Tunnel, Heathrow Airport J6a No Access
M10: St Albans, Hatfield J7 No Access
A414: Hemel Hempstead J8 A414: Hemel Hempstead
A5: Whipsnade J9 A5: Whipsnade
A1081: Luton Airport J10 A1081: Luton Airport
A505: Luton, Dunstable J11 A505: Luton Dunstable
Toddington services
A5120: Flitwick, Houghton Regis J12 A5120: Flitwick, Woburn
A421: Bedford
A507:Woburn, Ampthill
J13 A421: Milton Keynes, Bedford
A507: Ampthill
A509: Milton Keynes, Newport Pagnell J14 A509: Milton Keynes, Newport Pagnell
Newport Pagnell services
A508: Northampton J15 A508: Northampton
A43: Northampton, Oxford J15a
Northampton services
A43: Northampton, Oxford
A45: Northampton J16 A45: Daventry
Watford Gap services
No Access J17 M45: Coventry
A428: Daventry, DIRFT J18 DIRFT, A5: Hinckley
A428: Rugby
A14: Felixstowe, Corby, Kettering
A4303: Lutterworth, Rugby J20 A4303: Lutterworth
A4304: Market Harborough
M69: Coventry, Birmingham
A5460: Leicester
J21 M69: Coventry
A5460: Leicester
Leicester Forest East services
No Access J21A A46: Leicester, Newark
A50: Leicester
A511: Coalville
J22 A511: Coalville, Ashby-de-la-Zouch
A512: Loughborough, Ashby-de-la-Zouch J23 A512: Loughborough
A42(M42): The SOUTH WEST, Tamworth, Birmingham J23a A453: East Midlands Airport
Donington Park services
A42(M42): The SOUTH WEST, Tamworth, Birmingham
A6: Loughborough
A453: East Midlands Airport
Donington Park services
J24 A50: Stoke
A6: Derby
A453: Nottingham South/Centre
A50: Stoke
A6: Derby
J24a No Access
A52: Nottingham South, Derby J25 A52: Derby, Nottingham West/Centre
Trowell services
A610: Nottingham, Ilkeston J26 A610: Ripley, Nottingham North/Centre
A608: Heanor, Hucknall J27 A608: Mansfield
A38: Matlock J28 A38: Mansfield, Matlock
Tibshelf services
A617: Mansfield, Matlock J29 A617: Chesterfield
A616: Chesterfield, Newark J30 A6135: Sheffield, Worksop
Woodall services
A57: Worksop J31 A57: Worksop
M18: The NORTH, Doncaster, Hull J32 M18: The North, Doncaster, Hull
A630: Sheffield, Rotherham, Robin Hood Airport J33 A640: Sheffield, Rotherham, Robin Hood Airport
A6109: Meadowhall, Rotherham J34 A6178: Meadowhall, Rotherham, Robin Hood Airport
A629: Rotherham J35 A629: Rotherham
No Access J35a A616: Manchester
A61: Sheffield J36 A61: Barnsley
A628: Barnsley, Manchester J37 A628: Barnsley, Manchester
A637: Huddersfield, Barnsley J38 A637: Huddersfield, Barnsley
Woolley Edge services
A636: Denby Dale J39 A636: Denby Dale
A638: Wakefield, Dewsbury J40 A638: Dewsbury, Batley, Wakefield
A650: Wakefield, Morley J41 A650: Wakefield, Morley
M62: Hull, Manchester J42 M62: Manchester, Bradford, Hull
No Access J43 M621: Leeds
A639: Leeds J44 A639: Leeds
Under construction J45 Under construction
A6120: Leeds J46 A6120: Leeds
A63: Selby
A656: Castleford
A642: Garforth
J47 A642: Garforth
The South (A1)
Start of Motorway A1(M), J43 A1(M): The NORTH, Wetherby

List of sights visible from the M1

  • Midland Main Line & Thameslink (between London Gateway services and junction 1)
  • West Coast Main Line (runs alongside between junctions 16 and 18)
  • Rugby VLF transmitter (between junctions 18 and 19)
  • Nottingham East Midlands Airport (between junctions 23A and 24)
  • Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station (between junctions 24 and 25)
  • Hardwick Hall (between junctions 28 and 29)
  • Bolsover Castle (between junctions 29 and 30)
  • Tinsley Viaduct cooling towers (Sheffield, near junction 34)
  • Meadowhall shopping centre (Sheffield, near junction 34)
  • Emley Moor tower (between Woolley Edge services and junction 38)

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