Ashridge Interchange  

The Ship Inn from London Road, with Peach Street to the left

Market Place and Broad Street from Cockpit PathShute End looking northwards, with The Terrace on the right

   "The Ashridge Interchange Movement ('AIM') is a non-party organisation that exists to promote the
   best possible traffic solution for Wokingham for the least overall environmental impact."

                History - The M4 junctions around Reading

Berkshire County Council Minutes:

Ashridge Interchange

Woosehill development

Highways and Transportation sub-committees

Reading Mercury and the M4 route, 1965

Summary of Wokingham newspaper reports, 1968 and 1969

Wokingham Times Articles, 1968-9, by subject:

Bracknell Town

Wokingham Town

Wokingham One-Way System

The Land Commission and Woosehill

Reading Road and Winnersh

Build-up of opposition to Ashridge proposals

Public Inquiry
Week 1

Public Inquiry
Week 2

Public Inquiry
Week 3


Newspaper reports, late 1970

Summary of Newspaper reports, 1971-5

Wokingham Times Articles, 1971-5, by subject:

Wokingham Town

Woosehill

Woosehill
Public Inquiry, Summer 1973

Winnersh

Woodley and Earley

The M4, A329(M) and IDR

The Woosehill Planning Inspector's Report, 1974

The Woosehill Inspector's Report four decades on

Work on the Maidenhead By-Pass started in the 1930’s as a dual carriageway with cycle tracks and several junctions, but WWII intervened with just the River Thames bridge parapets in place. In 1946, the 'London-South Wales Motor Road' was announced. Its original route was to take in the path of the Maidenhead By-Pass and then extend westward through Winnersh roughly where the M4 is now, and continuing south of Reading, Newbury and Hungerford before taking a more northerly route to Bristol. The planned route was later changed to avoid south Berkshire beyond Maidenhead. 

In 1959, the first section of what became known as the M4 opened as the Maidenhead By-Pass. It was extended eastwards in the early 1960’s to Chiswick, and was intended to extend westwards through south Oxfordshire and Wiltshire towards Swindon, Bath and Bristol.

In 1965, the planned line of the M4 was changed yet again, as reported by the Reading Mercury, passing south of Reading and north of Theale. However, at that stage, no plans had been made for junctions with other roads around Reading. These were revealed in 1967, and as usual the Mercury reported in great detail.

The first article appeared on 15th July, entitled 'Ministry's Motorway Plans', describing junctions at Theale and at Winnersh.

At Winnersh there would be a 3-level junction with a link north to the A329 at Loddon Bridge, and a link south to the A321 near to Bell Foundry Lane.

Since the link road would be the responsibility of Berkshire County Council, it was left to the council to provide more detail on the route, and this was published in the 'Mercury' of 22nd July. Although a map published by the Ministry showed a relatively simple junction and link road, the County Council had developed more complex plan for an East Reading to Loddon Bridge link that would involve demolition of many houses in Woodley. There was no mention of any extension of the link road south of the A321, though the map hinted at it. This lack of transparency was to cause fear, uncertainty and suspicion in the minds of local protesters and ultimately resulted in the very opposite of what was trying to be achieved.

The link road took shape over the next year or so, and became a motorway known as the A329(M), as reported in the Wokingham Times from 1968 onwards - and itself linked into the so-called Wokingham Relief Road that stemmed from the proposed Ashridge Interchange. The rejection of this Wokingham Relief Road and the subsequent avoidance of the subject over many years meant that local drivers had no effective relief road for Wokingham or for Winnersh, and that they had to drive very long detours to reach the M4, clogging-up the local roads in the process.

 

MINISTRY'S MOTORWAY PLANS

(Reading Mercury, 15th July 1967)


Plans for access roads to the M4 motorway at Winnersh and a Theale by-pass have now been published by the Ministry of Transport.

At Winnersh, there will be access to the motorway from a three-level interchange west of Forest Road, near Toutley Hall linked to the A329 close to Loddon Bridge. The new road will run north of Winnersh westwards from the interchange crossing Merryhill Green before sweeping back to join up with the A329.

Eastward from the motorway interchange, the new access road will be constructed almost due east to form a junction with the Twyford Road A321 in Wokingham, a little to the north of Bell Foundry Road.

At Theale, the Ministry have planned a by-pass to the village which will involve blocking the A4 to through traffic. The by-pass will run from a main two-level interchange with the motorway and A4 to the east of Theale, passing to the south between the A4 and the railway line, crossing over Station Road and linking up with the A4 again west of the village, where a new roundabout junction will be formed with the Pangbourne Road, A340, near Wigmore Lane. This latter will be closed off and a new connection provided directly from the roundabout.

The present A4 will be stopped at the eastern end of the village just to the west of The White Hart Inn, to prevent through traffic. This means that drivers travelling west from Reading and wanting to get to Theale High Street must take the by-pass to its western junction giving access on to the A4, and then double back into the village.

Pincent's Lane is also to be diverted from its present junction with the A4 because this would clash with the M4 interchange. Instead it will be re-aligned to the east of the lime works to link up with the A4 further to the east.

The Ministry have also published side road orders covering the length of the motorway from Winnersh to Theale. Maps of the proposals may be seen at the Berkshire County Surveyor's Department at Sunley House, Friar Street, and objections may be made up to October 8th.

Motorway Plan

(Reading Mercury, 22nd July 1967)

When this (Saturday) morning Berkshire County Council meet at the Shire Hall, Reading, there are likely to be repercussions over the Highways and Bridges Committee recommendation for an East Reading to Loddon Bridge link with the M4 and a proposed amended line for the North-South Woodley relief road. The Highways Committee are asking that both lines should be protected.

Plans for access roads to the M4 at Winnersh (see right) and a Theale by-pass have now been published by the Ministry of Transport.

Theale Parish Council are to protest to the Ministry of Transport, emphasising that unless an access road is provided, Theale will become a “dead-end” village.

At Woodley and Earley, protest meetings have taken place on most evenings this week. The East Reading – Winnersh link road would, it is claimed, demolish hundreds of homes in the two parishes. In both areas there have been strong demands for the reference back of the recommendation.

It has been stated by area members of the county, rural and parish councils that there were no prior consultations with other authorities before the publication by the county council last Saturday of the minutes containing the recommendation.

Mr. E. Scott, a Woodley representative on Wokingham R.D.C., told a Woodley meeting on Thursday that if the plan was passed it would not be a case of democracy, but dictatorship. He told a packed audience that people were suffering because of the views of North Berks landowners, which had resulted in the M4 route going south of Reading instead of north as originally planned.

Yesterday (Friday) it was announced that a £48,000 contract for site investigations on the route of the eight-mile Theale-Winnersh section of the M4 had been awarded by the Ministry of Transport to Le Grand, Sutcliff and Gell, Ltd., the drilling and site investigations company. The work on the motorway will take nine months and involve 110 separate borings.

 

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