Welcome to your Lancashire

Historic Highways

Lancashire has a tremendous history of highways from the Romans, through the Turnpike age to the modern day era. Just a brief description is given here but use the menu at the left to find out in detail about the subject of your choice.

Packhorse Bridge, Catlow Bottoms
Packhorse Bridge, Catlow Bottoms

Roman Roads

Lancashire has of some the most spectacular Roman roads in the country. Online we have one of the most comprehensive reviews of recent times with many aerial photos, contour maps and old Ordnance Survey map extracts.

Turnpike Roads

The story of these, the first major roads after the Romans, is told in detail by a former Deputy County Surveyor.

The East Lancs. Road, A580

This was the country's first purpose-built intercity highway and was opened by King George V in 1934. This page features the original opening brochure.

Road Plan for Lancashire 1949

This visionary Road Plan was produced by Lancashire County Council in 1949 and is frequently referenced in the Motorway section below. The first 2 chapters of the book are online here.

Lancashire Roads 1960 - Situation Report

James Drake's 1960 progress report on his 1949 Roadplan.

All-purpose Roads

A selection of opening brochures of some of Lancashire's road and bridge schemes in PDF (Acrobat) format.


The Motorway era began in Lancashire and Lancashire County Council was at the forefront of their design and construction. The Preston By-pass section of the M6 was actually the country's first motorway and was opened in December 1958. We have the opening brochure here (Pdf 6Mb file)

Here we also seek to publish the story of the construction of these pioneering roads as told by the actual civil engineers' responsible. As such they are more technical and include their personal reminiscences so do not necessarily represent the views of Lancashire County Council.

Photo Gallery

A selection of the more interesting images from the archive.


We would like to know your views about Lancashire's historic highways, and welcome your comments and discussions in our Historic Highways Forum.

Important Date

50th Anniversary of the opening of Britain's First Motorway (Preston Bypass) is on 5th December 2008

Finally, not a lot of People know this!

Lancashire has an impressive list of firsts.

  • First White Lines - Yorkshire may have invented cats-eyes but white lines were a Lancashire invention;
  • First County to erect sign-posts;
  • First to enforce "Rule of the Road" - forerunner of the Highway Code;
  • First Inter-City Highway - East Lancs Road Liverpool to Manchester;
  • First Motorway - Preston Bypass M6.


For queries and suggestions regarding these pages email:

© 2013, Lancashire County CouncilPhone: 0845 053 0000 email: enquiries@lancashire.gov.uk