10 Facts about Britain's roads

Sam Bisby

By: Sam Bisby

Our roads can be seen as the veins of the country and it would be hard to imagine life without them in this modern age. However, there was a time when our road system was in its infancy and has grown exponentially ever since, so it’s always interesting to look back at how Britain’s roads grew into the system we now use 24/7.

Oldest road

The oldest road in the Britain is the Ridgeway. Believed to have been made over 5,000 years ago, the Ridgeway stretches from Wiltshire to Goring near Reading.

First Tarmac road

The first road ever to be surfaced with tarmac was Radcliffe Road in Nottingham in 1902.

Longest road

The A1 is the longest road in Britain. The road spans 396 miles from London to Edinburgh.

Tarmac inventor

Tarmac was first discovered as a way to surface roads by Edgar Hooley from Nottinghamshire back in 1901, hence the first tarmaced road emerging in the East Midlands city just a year later.

Total driveable roads

According to the Ordnance Survey, there are approximately 321,000 miles of drivable roads in Britain.

Cat’s eyes invented

The road reflectors known as cat’s eyes were invented in 1933 by Percy Shaw from Halifax and are still in use today to help us make our way in adverse conditions.

Highest road

The highest road in Britain is the A93 or the Cairnwell Pass running from Perth to Aberdeen, reaching a maximum altitude of 670 metres (2199ft) above sea level.

First motorway                                                                   

The first motorway in Britain was the eight-mile long M6 Preston-Bypass opened in 1958.

First motorway services

The Watford Gap motorway services were opened in 1959 on the same day that the M1 opened.

Road with right-handed driving

The Savoy Court leading to the Savoy Hotel has a rule that cars must drive on the right. It was passed as an Act of Parliament in 1902 that cars entering the Savoy Court were required to drive on the right.