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What is the Motorway Archive?
Work on developing the UK Motorway system, which transformed British travel, started in the mid-1950s. The Motorway Archive celebrates the engineering achievement involved in the conception, planning, design and construction of this transport network by thousands of dedicated professionals. The Archive itself is a collection of as many of the documents and artefacts, which were associated with the development, as it has been possible to find. From this wealth of material has come the story of each motorway developed in Britain over the last 50 years. This is the story of one of them.

Region: North West

M63 Stockport East-West By-pass (J27 to J2)


By September 1974, the completion of Sale Eastern and Northenden By-pass, together with Sharston By-pass, had extended the M63 as far as Cheadle Heath. The need for its continuation, therefore, by the early construction of the of the 2½ mile long Stockport East-West By-pass, became increasingly important, not only as part of the Manchester Outer Ring Road but also as a means of relieving the A560, within the town.

L G Mouchel and Partners, Consulting Engineers, were appointed by the Department of Transport to undertake its design and subsequent supervision of construction.

travis Brow interchange

From Cheadle Road, the proposed By-pass was to pass under the slip road connecting it to the A560, and continue alongside a sewage disposal works, before passing under a railway line and over the River Mersey. It then ran close to the Glazebrook-Godley Railway Line, and through disused sidings to a two-level interchange at Travis Brow, with connections to the A6.

Continuing under both the arches of the viaduct which carried the main Manchester-Crewe Railway, and the A6, it was to pass through the site of a former railway station before crossing the River Tame.

The By-pass was to terminate at a two-level interchange at the junction of Tiviot Way, the A560, and Brinnington Road, Portwood.

A total of 13 bridges and 3 pedestrian subways was required. The bridge carrying the Cheadle Exchange Railway Line over the By-pass was to be a four-span reinforced concrete structure designed, and the construction supervised, by British Rail. The River Mersey Bridge was designed with three-spans, of 50 feet, 100 feet and 50 feet, and a continuous post-tensioned prestressed concrete superstructure, at a 45° skew.

The route of the By-pass occupied part of the bed of the River Mersey, which it was necessary to divert between retaining walls. On the north side, the wall was to be 200 feet long and 40 feet high and on the south side, 500 feet long and 25 feet high.

The scheme for the dual three-lane carriageway By-pass was the subject of a Public Inquiry in 1977. A favourable decision enabled work to start on the first of two contracts, in June 1979 followed by the second, in February 1980.

Large areas of land required for the By-pass had been cleared by Stockport Borough Council under slum-clearance provisions. The works involved the demolition of over 100 houses and shops, 18 industrial premises, 5 public houses, a petrol station and 3 car showrooms.

The construction of the By-pass through the urban area entailed a number of unusual features.

Some 35,000 cubic yards of sewage sludge from the works at Cheadle Heath, had to be removed to a site at Altrincham.

St. Mary's Church and School, are immediately north and about 80 feet above the level of the By-pass, which is in a deep cutting at that point. The lower 50 feet is in sandstone rock and the soft ground above it is retained by a contiguous piled brick-faced wall held by ground anchors.

railway viaduct

East of Lancashire Hill and in order to minimise the land-take, the By-pass is contained within reinforced-earth retaining walls, with precast concrete facings.

The Main Line Railway Viaduct is a dominant feature within the centre of the town. Designed by George Watson Buck, it was completed in 1840 and is reputed to be the largest brick-built viaduct in the Country. As the By-pass was designed to pass through two of the spans, in shallow cutting, it was necessary to underpin the foundations of one of the piers in order to ensure adequate support.

Major service diversions were required. Much of this work had a great influence on the construction sequence. A6 is a main traffic artery and its importance was recognised by a requirement in the relevant Contract, that it must be kept open at all times. It was necessary for the existing Wellington Road Bridge carrying the A6 to be replaced and a temporary bridge was constructed, which was also used for diverted services.

The carriageway construction in the western of the two Contracts is a continuous reinforced concrete pavement, except over the River Mersey Bridge. Elsewhere, the carriageways are of conventional flexible construction with a wearing course of hot rolled asphalt.

The By-pass was completed and opened to traffic in July 1982.

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