Unravelling the mysteries of the Eastern Bypass

The northern section of the Eastern Bypass, Clayton, Manchester
The northern section of the Eastern Bypass. Photo by Gene Hunt.

If you live in Clayton or Higher Openshaw, you would wonder why there are two roads known as the Eastern Bypass. The northern section (seen above) looks like your typical dual carriageway and could be mistaken for other roads around Manchester. The southern end of Eastern Bypass – by contrast – wouldn’t look out of place in Letchworth with a garden city ambience (resembling a boulevard rather than a typical grey dual carriageway).

Sometime before the M60 opened proper in October 2000, there were earlier plans for an inner ring road. Instead of being elevated or built through cuttings, this road would have been built at surface level and controlled with traffic lights. Therefore, not being totally segregated from A roads (other than by means of junctions), would have seen the Eastern Bypass as a non-motorway standard road, akin to Mauldeth Road West and the East Lancashire Road.

Plans for the Eastern Bypass were mentioned in map form in Manchester Corporation’s 1945 ‘City of Manchester Plan’, allocated the number D/23. Had it opened in its complete form, this blog may well have been called ‘East of the D/23’. The same map also included plans for a further outer ring road, uncannily close to the route of today’s M60 motorway, the aborted A6(M) relief road and a section of dual carriageway near Handforth. The latter would have led to the dual carriageway link from Junction 5 of the M56 for Manchester Airport.

The Route?

Parts of what would have been the Eastern Bypass also included Hardy Lane, possibly Mauldeth Road and Wayland Road South. If fully realised, Eastern Bypass may have taken the following route:

1. A665 (Cheetham Hill Road) – A662 (Ashton New Road):

  • From the A665 (Cheetham Hill Road) along Crescent Road. A new section would have been built between the end of Crescent Road up to the start of Ash Street, absorbing Carisbrook Street;
  • From Carisbrook Street, a new section would have been built up to Oldham Road. Part of which would follow the newly constructed dual carriageway known as ‘The Gateway’;
  • At Oldham Road, D/23 then follows Ten Acres Lane. A new section linking Ten Acres Lane with Clayton Street would have meant trying to build around Bank Bridge Road (in the late 1940s, Bank Bridge was still used by the Clayton Aniline Company as a private connection with BR metals);
  • The junction of Clayton Street and Hartington Drive assumes another possible form of preparatory work. Municipal housing was built with a good ten feet worth of pavement space between front gardens and the single carriageway road. One wonders whether the single carriageway version of Hartington Drive would have been a stopgap prior to eventual upgrade as the Eastern Bypass;
  • From the junction of Ravensbury Street and Hartington Drive, a short section of dual carriageway would link with Vale Street. The present shopping parade assumes some leanings to a future dual carriageway section which would continue to the junction of Canberra Street and Stanton Street;
  • From the junction of Canberra Street and Stanton Street, we see the northern section of the Eastern Bypass leading to Schofield Street and Ashton New Road.

2. A662 (Ashton New Road) – A6 (Wellington Road North):

  • A new section of road would have been built between Ashton New Road and Crabtree Lane, leading us to the southern section of the Eastern Bypass;
  • Thereafter, Sandywell Street would have been expanded to dual carriageway status with the road reaching Ashton Old Road. A new junction would link D/23 with Lees Street – which, along with Sandywell Street would have been doubled;
  • After Gorton and Openshaw railway station, D/23 would follow Constable Street and part of Abbey Hey Lane close to the primary school. A new section of dual carriageway would link Abbey Hey Close with Tan Yard Brow, which would have been realigned to Hyde Road and Far Lane;
  • From there, it would link up with Wayland Road and Wayland Road South, continuing to Nelstrop Road North, following the whole of that road;
  • From Nelstrop Road North, Norfolk Avenue would have been extended to meet the former road, thus meeting Wellington Road North.

3. A6 (Wellington Road North) – Hardy Lane:

  • D/23 would nestle behind the McVitie’s and Fairey’s works with a new road linking Norfolk Avenue with the present alignment of Avon Road. By then, slight realignment would see D/23 follow Mauldeth Road;
  • In readiness for future expansion, municipal housing on both sides of Mauldeth Road (Withington end) have been set back to allow for dual carriageway conversion;
  • Further proof of this is seen towards the Old Moat end of Withington along Mauldeth Road West. Our suspicions are confirmed on reaching Princess Road (A5103) where Mauldeth Road West becomes a dual carriageway afterwards;
  • From Princess Road, the rest of Mauldeth Road West is a dual carriageway all the way up to the junction of Barlow Moor Road (A5145) and Hardy Lane;
  • As with parts of Mauldeth Road and Wayland Road, further housing is set back from the road at Hardy Lane. Hardy Lane, besides being converted to a dual carriageway, would have been extended to meet today’s Junction 6 of the M60 motorway. This would have absorbed Rifle Road and the Jackson’s Boat public house along the side of the River Mersey.

Other routes?

It was stated in the 1962 SELNEC Highway Plan that D/23 would have been an extension of Broadway. The route would have taken in Clayton Vale, Edge Lane and Gorton, by means of a disused railway alignment, linking up with Hyde Road. It would reach Levenshulme and Fallowfield via Moseley Road and Wilbraham Road. Thereafter it would reach the A56 (Chester Road) at Stretford.

Beyond Wayland Road South, D/23 could have followed Holmcroft Road instead of Nelstrop Road North, linking up with Matthews Lane or Barlow Road. Any of the two roads could have a junction with Stockport Road (A6) with a new road linking Slade Lane and the dual carriageway at Kingsway. This assumption may be congruent with the 1962 SELNEC Highway Plan’s theory of linking the Moseley Road dual carriageway with Stretford.

Over to you:

Do you have any other possible theories on the route of the Eastern Bypass, had it been completed? Feel free to add any further comments on the subject.

S.V., 05 June 2011.

8 thoughts on “Manchester’s Road to Eastern Promise

  1. Somewhat confused as to where this road would go From Carisbrook Street, and i live around the corner from it!

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    1. It has been a source of fascination for me, especially as to why you would only build 300 yards of dual carriageway and abandon it like a failed Sim City 3000 project. Therefore I was wondering if anybody else can fill me in on the abandoned project.

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  2. eastern by pass ..just look at the map.. from the end of broadway at oldham road to the end of kingsway at the a6..stockport rd,, its the missing link..

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    1. Hi Rob,

      I too remember that theory (that of Broadway being part of the Eastern Bypass). South of Broadway It would have continued along Averill Street with a new road over the River Medlock leading to Vale Street, then to (today’s) Eastern Bypass roads, Wayland Road and Wayland Road South.

      Other than expense, I wonder what else scuppered the Eastern Bypass? Part of the route would have gone near Reddish depot (objections from BR?), and may have paralleled BR Eastern Region’s Fallowfield Loop line (which served Manchester Central station). It would have affected shopkeepers on Ashton New Road and Ashton Old Road, which in the late 1940s would have been bustling streets with local residents and workers alike.

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

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  3. I lived in Clayton as a youngster in the 1950s and the Eastern Bypass was an anachronism even then. After all crossing the Medlock valley would obviously need a huge viaduct that would cost an absolute fortune. (when small boys can suss that out why can’t the council officials?) About a mile eastwards was the infamous “Pop Brew” (Pop Brow perhaps?) Here we could get our pushbikes to go well over the 30 mph speed limit! On the other side of Pop Brew there was Newton Heath railway station (I had an Auntie who lived there in Silverwell Street) For 9d in old money (about 4p in metric money) it was possible to buy a return ticket to Manchester Piccadilly. This was an exciting trip although the rows of railway wagons painted with “condemned” was a bit depressing.. Reminiscing about these things makes one realize how old one is but curiously I don’t feel old at all even though many of my contemporaries croaked long ago! I would urge young people to treasure Victorian heritage as this was built when Britain was a superpower and such brilliant stonework is unlikely to be ever seen again. Later we moved to Audenshaw and a great treat was watching the Travelling Post Office go through the nearby Droylsden Station. Mailbags would be hurled into a net and other mailbags would be snatched off a hook. Brilliant! In those days letters posted at Clayton Post Office up to eight o’ clock at night would reach most parts of the UK by first post in the morning. For really urgent letters one could catch the all night bus to downtown Manchester and post letters at the main sorting office at up to 1 am. Again these letters would reach just about anywhere by the first post in the morning! No jet planes required it was all done with steam trains and one has to take ones hat off to the men and women who provided such a service..

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  4. The Manchester Image Collection contains quite a few photos captioned “photo of proposed Eastern By-Pass Road”. These are attributed to the City Surveyor and dated 1922, so it would appear the plans had been brewing for quite a long time before finally being abandoned. Obviously the Great Depression and WW2 didn’t help.

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    1. Hi Peter,

      You’ve given me a good reason to call in the newly refurbished Central Library! I wonder what effect D/23 would have had on Greater Manchester’s traffic flows if fully realised?

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

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