LA-Freeway-400.jpg

I'm looking forward to The Secret Life of the Motorway, which starts on BBC Four on Tuesday. I've been reading up on the British road system for a while but have been too ashamed to admit it for fear of reaching a new level of geekdom. It was for research on my favourite road, the B7076/7078 for Nothing To See Here. It used to be the main route from Glasgow down to the border and now it's a strange ghost road - a B-class dual carriageway. Driving along it evokes an era of big open roads and fewer cars. A step back in time.

Out and about it's easy to spot relics of the short period when motorways were the glamour boys of transportation. The famous Pennine Tower at Forton Services emulates air travel, not road travel. In 1965, the M6 was that exotic. The best seats in the restaurant give you a great view of the motorway, whereas services today are designed to shield you from the road and make you think you're in the country. Forton is a relic of a time when motorways were really exciting and new, an emotion also captured in numerous "boring" postcards of the period like the one from LA above.

Roads are another brilliant everyday thing that everyone seems to take for granted. How I love them. For me hearing the traffic news about the Hanger Lane Gyratory System or the A939 from Cockbridge to Tomintoul holds more romance than the shipping forecast.

Fellow enthusiasts may enjoy:

i do love coincidences like this - we were marveling at the wonder of forton tower yesterday daring each other to get in the lift and see where it took us...
we were on our way to morecambe for the sandcastle festival. thank you ever so for telling us about sunset ices - we met kate who was lovely and gave us smashing spots to visit that we would never've tried - the spanish bar and it's brilliant host jose were particularly brilliant - go if you're ever there.
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A wonderful part of the UK highway system is the signage and the type face also available cbrd

Ally - I'm very pleased that you met Kate and look forward to your photos of the sandcastle festival. I am jealous, as always!

Nerg - thanks, yes. I was planning a separate post on that later as there's quite a lot to say about motorway signage as I learnt from the CBRD.

LOL -- " I've been reading up on the British road system for a while but have been too ashamed to admit it for fear of reaching a new level of geekdom."

You have nothing to be ashamed of! Infrastructure geeks unite! Recent post of mine along these lines (pertaining to the American highway situation), peruse if interested:

http://www.foreignerd.com/2007/08/20/a-place-called-eisenhower-interstate-system/

The first part was a proper documentary - interviews with people who built the ruddy things, not journalists who might have travelled on one once. The second part was full of the latter sort of charlatan. And it was going so well. More civil engineers chuckling into their beards about reinforced concrete stress levels, fewer columnist tossers with worthless opinions by the yard, please.

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