Presented here, some interesting snippets from the newspapers charting the construction and early use of the Leicestershire stretch of the M1, including some of the social problems it was accused of bringing to the county. As we come across things of interest we will continue to post them here. But here are a few for starters.
‘MOTORWAY IN A CUTTING. VICTORY FOR LANDSCAPE LOVERS. Mr Marples, the Minister of Transport, has agreed with residents of the Charnwood Forest, in North Leicestershire, that to build a motorway straight across the woodland would ruin the scenery. He has decided that much of the six-mile stretch through the forest, linking the M1 with the South Yorkshire motorway, will be below ground level, like a railway cutting.
It will be the first of its kind in Britain. Construction of the new motorway will also involve the building of 27 new roads, 48 footpaths and four new bridleways to replace those which will be blocked. A number of two-level flyover junctions will have to be built. No date has been named for the completion of the work, which is expected to take several years.
There were so many protests from other sources that the Minister, eventually decided to build the road near Markfield. Ministry workers have already started their preliminary aerial observations. The people of the forest have fought for nearly three years to keep their beauty spot untouched. Mr John Pettitt, a Markfield farmers, said yesterday:
“Nobody was at all keen to have the motorway through the woodland at all, but we realised that you can’t stand in the way of progress. When we first heard the news we formed an association of residents and farmers to protest to the Ministry. I have hundreds of letters and plans and maps on the subject filed away. The Ministry has been quite fair with us and has attempted to get a clear picture of just how the residents felt about the motorway.”’ (The Guardian, 30 May 1961).
‘MOTORWAY EXTENSION CONTRACT. SIX MILES FOR £4M. A contract to build a further six miles of the northern extension of the M1 motorway has been awarded to Robert M. Douglas (Contractors) Ltd. of Birmingham, the Ministry of Transport announced yesterday. Their tender was for £4,261,849.
The contract extending from Whetstone to Kirby Muxloe, Leicestershire, is due for completion in 23 months. It includes construction of a half-mile motorway spur at Enderby to connect the motorway with the A46.’ (The Guardian 6 Dec. 1962).
‘MANSION TO GO. Built in 1836 Garendon Hall, North Leicestershire, the family seat of the De Lisle family, is being demolished and the rubble is to be used for hard core on the extensions of the M1 motorway to Doncaster.’ (The Guardian, 18 May 1964)
‘MOTORWAY DRIVING TEST PROPOSED. Only drivers who have passed a motorway driving test should be allowed on Britain’s motorways, Lord Byers, chairman of the Liberal Party, said here [Derby] yesterday. This weekend he covered 111 miles of the M1 from London to Kegworth, Leicestershire, in 72 minutes, an average of over 90 m.p.h. He hopes to persuade his party to oppose the 70 m.p.h. motorway limit proposed by the Minister of Transport.’ (The Times, Mon. 6 Dec. 1965)
‘DROVE LOCOMOTIVE ON MOTORWAY. Roy Philip Wadsley (35), a driver, of Queen North Road, Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, was given a conditional discharge in Leicester yesterday after he pleaded guilty to driving a locomotive on the M1 at Ratby, Leicestershire.
A policeman, on the motorway saw Wadsley driving a 10-ton locomotive—a large diesel towing vehicle—pulling a 7-ton earth scraper. Wadsley said he had not known that it was an offence.’ (The Guardian, 29 Sept. 1966).
‘DANGER FROM SPILT COAL. Black dust and flying lumps of coal from badly packed lorry loads have brought a new motorway danger for drivers. Warnings are to be posed at pits and haulage yards that the police will prosecute offenders.
Dozens of windscreens have been smashed, coaldust has blinded motorists and caused accidents, and drainage gulleys have been blocked.
An official of Leicestershire highways committee said today that in one fortnight 25 tons of coal and coal dust was swept off a 6 ½-mile stretch of motorway. The job of keeping drains clear and preventing flooding had become very costly.
Chief-superintendent R. Antill, head of Leicester and Rutland police traffic department, said: “This sloppy loading has been the direct cause of accidents and unless it is stamped out it could be a killer.”
A letter from the police told the National Coal Board: “The spillage of coal is a danger to all motorway traffic. Proceedings will be taken against the driver of any vehicle depositing coal or dust on the highway.”
A board representative said: “This does not apply to our lorries, which carry bagged coal, but to private hauliers. We shall pass on the police warning.”’ (The Times, Wed. 6 Sept. 1967)
DRUG THREAT TO COUNTY. Five cases of heroin addiction are known to exist in Leicestershire, where last year it was unknown, and fears that cases could increase have been passed to Leicestershire Corporation and Leicestershire County Council by a committee of professional men and local council representatives.
The county’s Inter-professional Drug Abuse Committee has told the county and corporation medical officers of health that the sudden increase is alarming.
Mr. Kenneth Russell, the committee’s secretary, said today: “We believe some of the supplies have been coming from London. We are certain that soft drugs have been brought up the M1 and the transfer has taken place in motorway service centres.”
The committee hopes that teachers will campaign against drug-taking, and that they will be taught to recognize the signs of addiction at an early stage. It was formed in June and the members have many contacts with the police and local authorities.’ (The Times, Wed. 10 Jan. 1968)