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Song of a Road 1958

In The Beginning
Ewan MacColl 1915 - 1989
Peggy Seeger 1935 -
Charles Parker 1919-1980
The Original Ballads
The Ballad of John Axon 1957
Song of a Road 1958
Singing the Fishing 1959
The Big Hewer 1960
The Body Blow 1961
On the Edge 1962
The Fight Game 1963
The Travelling People 1964
The New Radio Ballads
John Tams
The Song Of Steel
The Enemy That Lives Within
The Horn of the Hunter
Swings and Roundabouts
Thirty Years of Conflict
Ballad of the Big Ships

Song Of A Road 1958 [click for larger image]
TSCD 802 1958

Britain's first motor highway


The southern section of the M1 from St Albans to Birmingham was opened in 1959.

In the early days there was no speed limit, no central reservation, no crash barriers and no motorway lighting.

More importantly, a mere 13,000 vehicles were estimated to use the M1 on a daily basis in 1959 compared with today’s figure of just over 88,000.

Pioneering engineering

The 72 miles of the southern section of the road was built by a labour force of 5,000 in just 19 months.

This works out on average at one mile every eight days.Preliminary investigations and research took four years which is not surprising considering the project would be the first substantial length of motorway ever built in this country.

The big day and beyond

The M1 was officially opened on 2nd November 1959 by the Minister for Transport Ernest Marples.

He described the M1 as a "magnificent motorway opening up a new era in road travel, in-keeping with the new, exciting, scientific age in which we live."

Today, many describe it as a car park; the problem being the huge increase of cars on Britain’s roads from 2.8 million in 1959 to over 27.5 million today.

The M1 now stretches from the north circular road in London to the Leeds city boundary and is 187 miles long.

1. Introduction
2. We Usually Finish The Shift In The Pub
3. I Think It's The Soil
4. We Are The Consulting Engineers
5. We Were In A Great Rush When We Did This
6. My Name Is
7. During That Time, A Survey Has Been Made
8. It Would Take Quite A Lot Of Men To Do
    The Job Of One Of Those Machines
9. Come All You Gallant Drivers
10. I'm A Roving Rambler
11. Deep And Straight And Low
12. Sixty Tons Of Steel
13. What Made you Come Into This Game?
14. Just A Road
15. Oh Well That's Just The Way It Is
16. When The Muck Has All Been Shifted
17. Bring Up Your Black Squad
18. Been On The Road So Long
19. You Can Talk About Your Concrete
20. The Motorway Is On The Final Lap
21. We Needed A Way Cut Through The Land

The southern section of the M1 was completed in 19 months at a cost of 16.5 million.
20 million tonnes of earth, gravel, rock and chalk were excavated to make way for the M1.
The 5,000 labour force who worked on the M1 were brought to work on double-decker buses.
Canteens were needed every 2.5 miles along the motorway.
The cost of the whole M1 was 50 million (the cost today would approximately be 1.5 billion).
The average daily traffic flow on the whole of the M1 is 88,000 vehicles per day.
The M1 is monitored 24 hours a day by eight different police control offices.
The heaviest traffic flow is between junction 7-10.

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