Opening booklets:
M1 Hendon Urban Motorway

Booklet published to mark the opening of the M1 Hendon Urban Motorway

Booklet published to mark the opening of the M1 Hendon Urban Motorway

The original length of the M1 ran from Watford, just north of London, to the A5 in Northamptonshire. During the 1960s it was progressively extended north to Yorkshire, but its southern end only made progress further towards London at the very end of the decade.

This booklet was published to mark the opening of the Hendon Urban Motorway, a scheme that carried the M1 south to reach Fiveways Corner, the junction of A1 and A41, just short of the North Circular Road. A further extension to reach the motorway's current southern terminus at the North Circular was added almost a decade later.

This book gives some insight into the planning and construction of an urban motorway that's usually forgotten when major urban roads are discussed, but which was no less disruptive and destructive than others. Running through the North London suburbs, it involved the demolition of rows of neat semi-detached houses, and what's perhaps most remarkable about this book is just how little interest it shows in the environment into which the new road was placed. There are photographs of nightshift engineering work with houses immediately behind, and a lot of detail on the construction of a retaining wall that avoided demolishing two further streets of houses - described in a way that suggests the engineers would rather have just rolled out the wrecking ball.