The M1 is a north–south motorway in Great Britain connecting London to Leeds, where it joins the A1(M) near Aberford. It was the first inter-urban motorway to be completed in the United Kingdom; the first road to be built to motorway standard in the country was the Preston By-pass, which later became part of the M6.
The motorway is 193 miles long and was constructed in four phases. Most of the motorway was opened between 1959 and 1968 but the southern end was extended in 1977 and the northern end was extended in 1999.
The M1 is the major north-south route and heavily used. It is also notorious for its constant roadworks and accordingly unpredictable, lengthy delays to each journey.
The northern end of the M1 is Junction 48; its junction with the A1M between Micklefield and Aberford in the West Riding of Yorkshire. From here it runs west and south-west to pass to the south of Leeds, the spurs off to the city at Junctions 44 and 43, the latter with the M621 Leeds South Eastern Urban Motorway. With the M62 and M621, the M1 forms a ring of motorways around the south of Leeds.
From Leeds, the M1 heads generally south between the West Riding towns, west of Wakefield then Barnsley. From junctions 34 to 33, the M1 passes south-eastwards between the vast urban areas of Sheffield (west) and Rotherham (east), then heads east to meet the M18 (to Doncaster and Hull) at junction 32. From here the M1 heads due south once again, entering Derbyshire at Woodhall Services, north of Junction 30.
The M1 is the major arterial route north-south through the Midlands, though it passes through no major Midland towns. The route takes the motorway south through:
- Derbyshire again, where it grazes Long Eaton)
- Leicestershire (passing East Midlands Airport and along the edge of the outer suburbs of Leicester)
- Northamptonshire (where it passes through the Watford Gap then turns south-east and runs south-west of Northampton)
- Buckinghamshire (east of Milton Keynes)
- Bedfordshire (between Luton and Dunstable, where it turns south again)
- and into Hertfordshire.
In the Home Counties, the M1 passes through:
- Hertfordshire (the corridor between Hemel Hempstead, west, and St Albans, east, meeting the M25 motorway at Bricket Wood, its major junction, then passing east of Watford)
Entering Middlesex near Bushey Heath, the M1 has little open countryside left on its route as the metropolitan conurbation soon swallows its corridor, and from Edgware south it is an urban motorway.
There had been plans since before the Second World War for a motorway network in the United Kingdom. Lord Montagu formed a company to build a 'motorway like road' from London to Birmingham in 1923, but it was a further 26 years before the Special Roads Act 1949 was passed which allowed for the construction of roads limited to a limited vehicle classifications and the 1950s when the country's first motorways were given the government go-ahead. The first section of motorway was the Preston Bypass in Lancashire, which opened in 1958 (now part of the M6 motorway). The M1 was Britain's first full-length motorway and opened in 1959.
The first section of the motorway opened between Junction 5 (Watford) and junction 18 (Crick / Rugby) on 2 November 1959 together with the motorway's two spurs, the M10 (from junction 7 to south of St Albans originally connecting to the A1) and the M45 (from junction 17 to the A45 and Coventry).
The M1 was officially inaugurated from Slip End (close to Luton), this was celebrated by a large concrete slab on the bridge next to the village with inscription "London-Yorkshire Motorway - This slab was sealed by the Rt Hon Harold Watkinson MP - Minister of Transport - Inauguration Day - 24th March 1958". It was removed during widening works in 2007-8.
Originally, the M1 was planned to end at Doncaster but it was decided to make what was going to be the "Leeds and Sheffield Spur" the primary route with the 11-mile section to the A1(M) south of Doncaster given a separate motorway number.
Between 1996 and 1999 the M1 section north of the M62 underwent a major reconstruction and extension to take the M1 on a new route to the A1(M) at Aberford. The new road involved the construction of a series of new junctions, bridges and viaducts to the east of Leeds. When the new section of M1 was completed and opened on 4 February 1999, the Leeds South Eastern Motorway section of the M1 was redesignated as the M621 and the junctions were given new numbers (M621 junctions 4 to 7).
Motorways required new thought, much of it developed on the M1 as it was developed and as use of the motorway continued. The lighting of motorways began here in 1973. The now familiar "tensioned safety barriers" were announced for the M1 in March 1973.
- In March 1972, 200 vehicles crashed in thick fog resulting in the deaths of nine people on the M1 north of Luton, Bedfordshire.
- On 8 January 1989, The Kegworth air disaster: forty seven passengers died when a Boeing 737 crashed onto the embankment of the M1 whilst attempting an emergency landing at East Midlands Airport in Leicestershire.
- On 6 September 1997, large sections of the northbound carriageway were closed between London and Althorp, Northamptonshire to allow for the funeral procession of Diana, Princess of Wales. In an unprecedented event, police allowed pedestrians onto the normally busy northbound carriageway almost the entire length of the route to pay their respects.
- In 2002, a section of the M1 near Milton Keynes was cleared using mobile police roadblocks to allow for filming of the film 28 Days Later.
- An 18-mile stretch of the motorway was closed entirely on the morning of 11 December 2005, following a major explosion and fire at the Buncefield Oil Depot in Hemel Hempstead, which is less than half a mile from the M1.
- In June 2007, the section of M1 between Junctions 32 and 36 was closed for a number of days after the Ulley Reservoir developed cracks after being deluged in the June 2007 United Kingdom floods.
- Part of the motorway close to Tinsley Viaduct was closed to allow safe demolition of the Tinsley cooling towers in the early hours of the 24 August 2008. the M1 remaining closed for much of the day until the stability of the viaduct was confirmed.
- On 15 April 2011, a seven-mile stretch of the road was closed between junctions 1 and 4 due to a fire at a scrapyard underneath the motorway, which turned out to be arson.
|Junction||miles||Northbound exits (A Carriageway)||Southbound exits (B Carriageway)|
M1 - Southern terminus
|7||Start of motorway||North Circular (West), Brent Cross A406|
|J2||9||No access||North Circular (East) A406|
The City A1
|Services||12||London Gateway services||London Gateway services|
|J4||13||No access||Edgware A41|
|J5||17||Aylesbury, Watford A41||Harrow A41|
|J6||20||St Albans, Heathrow Airport, Harlow A405||North Watford A405|
M1 - M25 interchange
|21||No access||Heathrow, Gatwick, M40, M4, M3,|
Stansted Airport M11, M20, M25
|J7||23||No access||St Albans, Hatfield A414|
|J8||24||Hemel Hempstead A414||Hemel Hempstead|
|J9||28||Redbourn A5183||Dunstable A5, Redbourn A5183|
|J10||31||Luton Airport A1081||Luton Airport A1081|
|J11||34||Luton, Dunstable A505||Luton, Dunstable A505|
|Services||39||Toddington services||Toddington services|
|J12||39||Flitwick, Woburn A5120||Flitwick, Houghton Regis A5120|
|J13||45½||Milton Keynes (South), Bedford A421
|Milton Keynes (South), Bedford A421|
Woburn, Ampthill A507
|J14||50||Milton Keynes (Central), Newport Pagnell A509||Milton Keynes (Central), Newport Pagnell A509|
|Services||54||Newport Pagnell services||Newport Pagnell services|
Milton Keynes (North) A508
Milton Keynes (North) A508
|65||Northampton, Oxford A43 (M40)
|Northampton, Oxford A43 (M40)|
|J16||68||Daventry A45||Northampton A4500|
|Services||75½||Watford Gap services||Watford Gap services|
|J17||77||Coventry M45||No access|
|Daventry, DIRFT A428|
M1 - M6 - A14 interchange
|83||The North West M6||The North West M6|
Felixstowe, Corby, Kettering A14
Market Harborough A4304
|Lutterworth, Rugby A4303|
|Coventry, Birmingham M69|
|Services||98||Leicester Forest East services||Leicester Forest East services|
|J21a||100||Leicester, Newark A46||No access|
|J22||105||Coalville, Ashby-de-la-Zouch A511||Leicester |A50, Coalville A511|
|J23||109||Loughborough, Ashby-de-la-Zouch A512||Loughborough, Ashby-de-la-Zouch A512|
|114||The South West, Tamworth, Birmingham A42 (M42)
East Midlands Airport A453
Donington Park services
|The South West, Tamworth, Birmingham, |
Ashby-de-la-Zouch, A42 (M42)
Nottingham South/Centre A453
East Midlands Airport A453
Donington Park services
|J24a||116||No access||Stoke A50, Derby A6|
|J25||121||Derby, Nottingham West/Centre A52||Nottingham South, Derby A52|
|Services||125||Trowell services||Trowell services|
|J26||127||Ripley, Eastwood, Nottingham North/Centre A610||Nottingham, Ilkeston A610|
|J27||132||Mansfield A608||Heanor, Hucknall A608|
|J28||136||Mansfield, Matlock A38||Matlock A38|
|Services||139||Tibshelf services||Tibshelf services|
|J29||143||Chesterfield A617||Mansfield, Matlock A617|
|J29a||Markham Vale A6192
|Markham Vale A6192|
|J30||149||Sheffield, Worksop A6135||Chesterfield, Newark A616|
|Services||152||Woodall services||Woodall services|
|J31||155||Sheffield (SE) A57||Worksop A57|
M1 - M18 interchange
|157||The North, Doncaster, Hull M18|
|J33||160||Sheffield (centre), Rotherham, A630||Sheffield (centre), Rotherham, A630|
|J34||162||Meadowhall, Sheffield, Rotherham A6178||Meadowhall, Rotherham A6109|
|J35||166||Rotherham A629||Rotherham A629|
|J35a||168||Manchester A616||No access|
|J36||169||Barnsley A61||Sheffield A61|
|J37||173||Barnsley, Manchester A628||Barnsley, Manchester A628|
|J38||177||Huddersfield, Barnsley A637||Huddersfield, Barnsley A637|
|180||Services||Woolley Edge services||Woolley Edge services|
|J39||181||Denby Dale A636||Denby Dale A636|
|J40||184||Wakefield, Dewsbury, Batley A638||Wakefield, Dewsbury A638|
|J41||186||Wakefield, Morley A650||Wakefield, Morley A650|
M1 - M62 interchange
|188||Hull, Manchester, Bradford, Liverpool M62||Hull, Manchester M62|
|J43||189||Leeds M621||No access|
|J44||191||Leeds A639||Leeds A639|
|J45||192||Leeds A63||Leeds A63|
The SOUTH (A1)
M1 - Northern terminus
|199||The North, Wetherby A1(M)||Start of motorway|
- CBRD Motorway Database - M1
- The M1 on SABRE
- Qview - Current M1 Traffic Conditions
- Highways Agency
- The Motorway Archive:
- UK-Roads.org.uk - Images of M1
- The London - Yorkshire Motorway - History of the construction of the first section of M1
- BBC website The Backbone of Britain contains link to a video of 2'42" in length
- "Motorway archive". The Motorway Archive. Institute of Highways and Transportation. http://www.iht.org/motorway/m1m10m45.htm. Retrieved 20 January 2008.
- "Key facts about England's motorways and trunk roads". Highways Agency. http://www.highways.gov.uk/knowledge/338.aspx. Retrieved 20 January 2008.
- Chris Marshall. "Motorway Database - M1". CBRD. http://www.cbrd.co.uk/motorway/m1/. Retrieved 31 October 2009.
- "The Slab". http://www.slipend.co.uk/Info/Local%20History/images/The%20Slab.jpg. Retrieved 20 January 2008.
- "Death toll on British roads". Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-187995/Death-toll-British-roads.html. "Thick fog was a factor in the deaths of nine people and injuries to 51 others in a massive 200-vehicle crash on the M1 north of Luton, Beds, in March 1972."
- "Blast demolishes landmark towers". BBC News (BBC News). 24 August 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/south_yorkshire/7578266.stm. Retrieved 24 August 2008.
- "M1 is fully reopened after Mill Hill scrapyard fire". BBC News (BBC News). 26 April 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-13154063. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
- History of design, construction and use of M1 in late 1950s and 1960s 
|Motorways in the United Kingdom|
Great Britain: M1 • M2 • M3 • M4 • M5 • M6 • M6 Toll • M8 • M9 • M10 • M11 • M18 • M20 • M23 • M25 • M26 • M27 • M32 • M40 • M42 • M45 • M48 • M49 • M50 • M53 • M54 • M55 • M56 • M57 • M58 • M60 • M61 • M62 • M63 • M65 • M66 • M67 • M69 • M73 • M74 • M77 • M80 • M85 • M90 • M180 • M181 • M271 • M275 • M602 • M606 • M621 • M876 • M898 • Sections of A road: A1(M)
Former motorways marked in italics