Opening booklets

Nobody celebrates a new road these days. There's no fanfare, no mementos for the locals to keep. There's only sometimes a ribbon to cut, and a distinct shortage of little bronze plaques. And, of course, there's no glossy booklets to record what an achievement it all was.

Partly this is because it isn't an achievement: we've built a lot of roads in the last century and it's not a big thing any more. And partly it's because roads just aren't something to celebrate any more. Today new roads are often opened quietly for fear of a backlash, as if building a road gives civil servants a guilty conscience and the whole thing is better forgotten.

Until the 1970s, though, someone would usually issue a booklet of some kind to mark the opening ceremony of a new road - whether that was the Ministry of Transport, a local council or sometimes even just one of the companies involved in building it.

This part of the site lets you see just what was in them - rare, archive photos of newly-opened roads that have changed beyond all recognition and, just sometimes, a glimpse of what was planned at the time but never saw the light of day.

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