The Construction and Opening
of the M1
The construction of first section of the M1, then known as the London-Birmingham Motorway, began on March the 24th 1958. Because of the decline of the railway networks major trunk roads like the A5 and A6, for example, were heavily over loaded.
To relieve the taffic on the above mentioned roads the building of the M1 was given priority over similar projects. The movie clip below shows original footage on some
of the work carried out on the M1. It was taken by the late Bernard Tomkins who lived near the M1 in Newport Pagnell.
Click on the photo to view the video footage of the construction of the M1. (612k)
About nineteen months later the works of this first section was completed. Mostly the work was carried out by relevant County Council who acted as agents for the Ministry of Transport, but the largest sectionwas contracted out and the work was carried out by John Laing and Son Ltd. The M1 was opened on The 2nd November 1959 by the Transport Minister Hon. Ernest Maples.
Pictured above, Earnest Maples at the Slip End in Bedfordshire. In his speech he said:

" This motorway starts a new era in road travel."
Later in his speech he added;"It will bring immense benefit if drivers use discipline, common sence and obey rules."

When it was first opened any category of vehicle was premited to use any lane at any speed on the M1, later in 1965 the 70 mile/hour maximum speed was introduced. The pictures below show traffic on the M1 in the 60's and in year 2000.
Today, in 2000
In the1960-s
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