The Secret Life of the Motorway - Stuartli
Tucked away on BBC4 over the next three nights from tonight (9pm) is a three-parter, The Secret Life of the Motorway.

Judging by a preview I've been reading, it should prove interesting viewing, starting with the opening of the M6 Preston bypass and the joy with which motorists took to driving on it without speed restrictions. Unfortunately some of the cars couldn't cope with the demands on them...:-)

One of the comments is that "via contemporary footage and interviews with everyone from the architects to the labourers, the programme details something we have come to take for granted, as well as remind us of the scale of labour and breadth of ingenuity that enabled the motorways' existence."

The point is also made that the building of the trans-Pennine section of the M62 was one of the great engineering feats of its day.

The preview states that our relationship with motorways is so emotional that the three parts are titled appropriately: Falling in Love, The Honeymoon Period and The End of the Affair.
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The Secret Life of the Motorway - Pugugly {P}
Brilliant Documentary - They resisted the temptation to dumb it down, cracking quality footage. Was that Morrisey in a peaked cap driving a Morris Oxford in the first few minutes ?

Funniest bit was the interview with the truck driver and his mate, his mate unable to resist repeating the driver's replies - just like endlessly quoting posts in here sometimes !
The Secret Life of the Motorway - Altea Ego
Superb documentary. Its on tomorrow and Thursday

Funniest bit was the interview with the truck driver and his mate, his mate unable to resist repeating the driver's replies - just like endlessly quoting posts in here sometimes !
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< Ex RF, Ex TVM >
The Secret Life of the Motorway - Pugugly {P}
See RF was a truck driver's mate in a previous life.

I liked the old gent whose average speed was 83mph.....!
The Secret Life of the Motorway - Stuartli
I've been through that stretch of the M62 and under the pedestrian bridge dozens of times, but never had an inkling of what it must have been like for those who built the motorway; wouldn't mind, but the weather I've been through around that area has been foul at times.

Another point - just £16,500,000 to build a 55 mile stretch of the M1 including all those bridges...:-)
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The Secret Life of the Motorway - paulb {P}
Thanks for letting us know about that, Stuartli - would never have watched it otherwise. Made me feel a bit better about paying the licence fee. This is what the BBC are good at. Will definitely watch tomorrow and Thurs.

£16.5m? What about 19 months to build the thing? The widening works between the M25 and Luton are taking longer than that!

Am definitely going to travel along the M62 at some point. I had no idea that building it was such an achievement.
The Secret Life of the Motorway - DP
Watched last night's episode with great interest.

It's incredible that a mile of the M1 was built, from scratch, every 8 days using 1950's technology and manual labour, and that included installation of all the bridges and junctions. Perhaps the powers that be need to look at the methods used then to learn some lessons. When they recently widened 7.5 miles of the M25 around Heathrow, and modified one junction for T5 access, it took 2 years! Similarly the works between the M25 and Luton mentioned by paulb

It's incredible to think that people used to go out on Sunday drives as families just to "experience" the motorway.

I also didn't know that the beginning of the motorway era prompted a massive cutback in rail routes and services. As one guy very honestly put it, "we wish we hadn't done that now".

Great programme! Really looking forward to tonight's episode.

Cheers
DP
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04 Grand Scenic 1.9 dCi Dynamique
00 Mondeo 1.8TD LX
The Secret Life of the Motorway - daveyjp
Unfortunately it was 'The Tribe' in our house at 9pm last night - but no doubt this programme will be on the view on demand service.

Re the M62 - Going westbound if you look to the right before the pedestrian bridge you can still see the access road they used when it was built - its about 1 in 3. A colleague from Halifax remembers them building the M62 and it used to be a regular trip to the access road at weekends to monitor progress!
The Secret Life of the Motorway - dxp55
Stuartli

Thanks for the nod -brought back loads of memories - went down M1 on my Tiger 110 and primary chain broke - just as we stopped a Mk11 Zodiac came racing past and bang - engine blow up - good old days of no traffic and no speed limits. - never been to London since

Dave
The Secret Life of the Motorway - Stuartli
>>but no doubt this programme will be on the view on demand service.>>

Many of BBC4's programmes are shown shortly afterwards on BBC1 or BBC2 - hopefully it will also be the case with this three-parter.
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The Secret Life of the Motorway - KMO
All three parts are repeated on BBC Four back-to-back on Friday night, for those who like three-hour motorway slogs.
The Secret Life of the Motorway - local yokel
>Perhaps the powers that be need to look at the methods used then to learn some lessons. When they recently widened 7.5 miles of the M25 around Heathrow, and modified one junction for T5 access, it took 2 years!

But the M25 had to remain open while the widening took place, whereas the M1 was virgin road-building.
The Secret Life of the Motorway - DP
But the M25 had to remain open while the widening took place whereas the M1
was virgin road-building.


True, but virgin road building was no picnic either. The excavation and groundwork required just to prepare the surface was staggering (and mostly done by hand).

I accept that traffic management and the need to keep the road open is going to slow things, but modern diggers, surveying technology and engineering know-how should offset a good percentage of that. I still can't see a satisfactory explanation for taking two years to modify something that could be built from scratch in a week nearly half a century ago.

Cheers
DP
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04 Grand Scenic 1.9 dCi Dynamique
00 Mondeo 1.8TD LX
The Secret Life of the Motorway - Altea Ego
>I accept that traffic management and the need to keep the road open is going to slow things

No that is just a mninor inconvenience. Its changing juntions, widening bridges, moving bridges, ripping up and moving road, while keeping the road open that slows things down.
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< Ex RF, Ex TVM >
The Secret Life of the Motorway - Altea Ego
>It's incredible to think that people used to go out on Sunday drives as families just >to "experience" the motorway

I remember as a kid the first services on the M1 opening. We traveled two hours on ordinary roads, just to get there and visit the services, eat and turn back again. For a Kid it was an exciting day out.

You have to remember the age. This was Austerity Britain finaly cracking out of the war dark ages. I didnt realise that when I was born (1954) there was stuff still rationed. Cheap flights to spain was just around the corner, That generation didnt know it, but they could feel things were happening and changing. Motorways were the visible shimmering lances of a new exciting golden age.
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< Ex RF, Ex TVM >
The Secret Life of the Motorway - oldgit
Watched last night's episode with great interest.
It's incredible to think that people used to go out on Sunday drives as families
just to "experience" the motorway.


Not really. Shortly after the M1 opened myself and my schoolmate drove, one evening, from South London to the start of the M1, then at a roundabout somewhere near Watford (Haddenham?) and then drove up the full length of the motorway to the Blue Boar café and then back again. I know that the whole process was done with ease and would be practically impossible today.
The Secret Life of the Motorway - Altea Ego
I've been through that stretch of the M62


They couldnt build on the bog so they carted the bog away. All of it.

The mind boggles (scuse me). Where did they put it? what did they put in its place? can you imagine the environmental impact meeting now?

Treehugger: You cant build It there, its a 5 million years old bog.
Mick the contractor: to be sure you are right we cant build on a bog
Treehugger: < smirk >
Mick the contractor: < mumbles with mates > Oi know, we will move the bog and domp it in the sea
Treehugger < aghast >
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< Ex RF, Ex TVM >
The Secret Life of the Motorway - LHM
They couldnt build on the bog so they carted the bog away. All of it.
The mind boggles (scuse me). Where did they put it?


Perhaps the Irish navvies took it back home? :-)
The Secret Life of the Motorway - drbe
The mind boggles (scuse me). Where did they put it?
Perhaps the Irish navvies took it back home? :-)


Did they dig a hole and bury it?
The Secret Life of the Motorway - sierraman
SNIPQUOTE!
Did they dig a hole and bury it?



That was funny,nearly choked on me devilled kidneys.
The Secret Life of the Motorway - LHM
A very enjoyable documentary! Great Cholmondeley-Warner style newsreel footage featuring Brylcreemed ministers with plummy accents, diddley diddley Oirish navvies, Dixon of Dock Green PCs in white-forearmed tunics...... and we had real bread for tea......

Harks back to a much more optimistic era when heroic feats were performed by ordinary folk who just got on with it - not wanting to 'make a fuss'.

I'd just like to echo DP's comment on the all-too-brief mention of the 'Beeching axe' - a truly criminal act if ever there was. I can't imagine any other European country ripping up such a valuable part of its country's infrastructure with such gay abandon.

I'll be making every effort to catch the remaining two parts!
The Secret Life of the Motorway - Altea Ego
Much is mentioned of the beeching axe, mostly all of it with little knowledge (now) of how things were (then) before the axe fell.

There were many many lines that were simply not viable. Many had 3 or 4 passenger per hour at its PEAK. Expensive to operate, inflexible and never commercially or socially viable for the past 50 years. My father regularly drove services (him, his fireman, the guard, 5 tons of coal and 50 tons of engine) to outlying places all the way up and down the eastern counties, where they never had passengers for DAYS.

You had a choice at that time. Keep the railway open to the pretty town of twiddly under the marsh or ban the car that would kill it.

We made that choice.

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< Ex RF, Ex TVM >
The Secret Life of the Motorway - Saltrampen
I noticed ITV ensured this program clashed with the program about parking problems.

What was interesting was that many early cars died at Motorway speeds due to overheating.
I'd be interested to know what the exact cause of the overheating was, lack of radiator cooling capacity? Too high revs/low gearing? lack of Head gasket technology?
Or just too many old pre war cars?
It was also interesting to see almost 10 yrs later, Drivers were able to cruise along at 80mph + with no problems. Whatever the issue was with engine design it seemed to be quickly solved by car makers.
I have been in a 60's Morris Minor 1300, and it seemed happy to cruise at 75mph, although very noisy.
The Secret Life of the Motorway - Altea Ego
What was interesting was that many early cars died at Motorway speeds due to overheating.
I'd be interested to know what the exact cause of the overheating


Yes all of those things you mentioned. I see the AA man reported lots of shot big ends as well. dunno how those happened, but I seem to recall grandfathers always talking about shot big ends.

Does anyone ever suffer from failed big ends these days? Better oil perhaps?
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< Ex RF, Ex TVM >
The Secret Life of the Motorway - PhilW
"the exact cause of the overheating"

Didn't the AA man mention that in most cases the radiators were "clogged"? I suspect that in those days most people just filled up radiators with water and perhaps only used anti-freeze in winter, and even then perhaps it didn't have very good rust inhibiting properties?

On another tack, as we drove up the M1 the other day, on the first stretch of the widening bit, my wife commented that not much seemed to be going on, then said "there are 3 blokes in yellow jackets up ahead" but as we passed it was observed that one was sitting reading a paper, one on his mobile and another dozing in the cab of his digger! - maybe it was tea-break time!
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Phil
The Secret Life of the Motorway - gmac
On another tack as we drove up the M1 the other day on the first
stretch of the widening bit my wife commented that not much seemed to be going
on then said "there are 3 blokes in yellow jackets up ahead" but as we
passed it was observed that one was sitting reading a paper one on his mobile
and another dozing in the cab of his digger! - maybe it was tea-break time!


They were waiting for Helath and Safety to turn up and brief them before they could start work ?
The Secret Life of the Motorway - Lud
>> What was interesting was that many early cars died at Motorway speeds due to
overheating.

>>
Does anyone ever suffer from failed big ends these days? Better oil perhaps?


British cars tended to be undergeared in the fifties compared to continental ones which had a high top gear at least. Quite a lot of cheap British cars could 'redline' in top gear, where French ones couldn't get anywhere near peak revs in top. Add poor-quality manufacturing and poor maintenance, and cars with 'stepped' cylinders suddenly being expected to run for three hours at higher revs than usual, breaking their piston rings, and you have this comedy of cars breaking down on the motorway.
The Secret Life of the Motorway - drbe
I noticed ITV ensured this program clashed with the program about parking problems.
>>


Yes, I noticed that as well.

'Right, two motoring programmes - well, better put them on at the same time'

Would ITV do that on purpose? Surely they would lose viewers and therefore advertising revenue? Perhaps it was the Beeb wot dun it? Just to mess up those nasty vulgar people on the commercial channel.

Where is Ashok when we need a good conspiracy theorist?
The Secret Life of the Motorway - drbe
Re: my post above.....

Where is Ashok? For no good reason, I did a forum search and couldn't find him!
The Secret Life of the Motorway - LHM
Imagine the fallout which would happen if either 'side' made Coronation Street clash with Eastenders!!
The Secret Life of the Motorway - Stuartli
>>Would ITV do that on purpose?>>

Based on normal BBC4 viewing figures, highly unlikely.
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The Secret Life of the Motorway - helicopter
Absolutely excellent documentary.

I was employed on big Civil Engineering projects in the late 60's and up to around 1980 was regularly involved in working on such projects including the M5 motorway . It brought back happy memories of a brilliant period of my life - the camaraderie of the teams working one site and then moving to the next. You'd meet up with the same people all over the country.

People just do not realise the amount of work involved in planning and building such structures as Spaghetti junction. It may not be to everyones taste but what a fantastic achievement , typifying the spirit of the age. I loved the recollections not only of the bosses but also the bog Irish labourers who just worked digging in a trench all day , everyday and at the weekend ( if not on double time ) drank the pubs dry.

Ah bejasus.........
The Secret Life of the Motorway - Stuartli
Lucy and that wig - and, despite her husband's comment, doesn't really enjoy the visits....:-)
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The Secret Life of the Motorway - fossyant
We all forget about H&S these days - slows everything to a STOP !
The Secret Life of the Motorway - daveyjp
As I said previously I didn't see the first programme, but I trust it was better than this. I was bored after half an hour.

Re the constrcution - on the early footage look how relatively simple the motorway was. Two/three lanes, grass central reservation 2/3 more lanes a couple of hard shoulders. No crash barriers, no lighting, no matrix signage etc etc. All these take time to install.
The Secret Life of the Motorway - Stuartli
All these take time to install.>>


It took some time to realise that such features were necessary - even so to do the work involved from scratch was remarkable in the time taken.

I also enjoyed the later programme about the tale of Rover and the reasons for its demise.
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The Secret Life of the Motorway - paulb {P}
Was there one about Rover as well, then? I saw the DeLorean programme, after which, somewhat bizarrely, the motorway programme was repeated.
The Secret Life of the Motorway - Stuartli
The Rover programme was on from midnight for 40 minutes.

If you are surprised by a quick repeat, then you haven't noticed BBC3's constant repeating of the Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps series...:-)

Don't suppose the cast will mind because of the repeats fees.
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The Secret Life of the Motorway - Altea Ego
Don't suppose the cast will mind because of the repeats fees.


They will. The reason its repeated is because they dont get any.
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< Ex RF, Ex TVM >
The Secret Life of the Motorway - Imagos
Tonights episode..

Those protesters against the expanding network in the 70's...

Can't say I agree with them especially the couple from Archway Road London..

The Secret Life of the Motorway - paulb {P}
If you are surprised by a quick repeat then you haven't noticed BBC3's constant repeating
of the Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps series...:-)


TBH it is so rare that we can persuade our Freeview box to work properly that we don't often watch digital channels. All this will change when we move and get satellite. Probably.

Interesting last episode - don't think I'd have been too chuffed to have a motorway viaduct going past my bedroom window either!
The Secret Life of the Motorway - Stuartli
Do you have a wideband TV aerial? A decent signal is critical for Freeview until the country goes fully onto digital terrestial transmissions rather than analogue.
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The Secret Life of the Motorway - L'escargot
Do you have a wideband TV aerial? A decent signal is critical for Freeview until
the country goes fully onto digital terrestial transmissions rather than analogue.


Before spending money on a new aerial it's worth checking that the existing aerial is pointing in the right direction. We get first class digital reception from a 12-year old analogue aerial situated in the roof void of our bungalow after I went to the trouble of properly lining it up with the transmitter using a compass. The signal strength indicator on our set top box shows satisfactory or good for all stations.
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L\'escargot.
The Secret Life of the Motorway - Stuartli
>>The signal strength indicator on our set top box shows satisfactory or good for all stations.>>

That's good. But some older narrowband analogue TV aerials won't pick up some of the middle range Freeview channels; that's why you need a wideband aerial.
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The Secret Life of the Motorway - Altea Ego
In truth the "inner" london box was a stupid idea. Worse it was being built with no real thought or care about the residents. Bits of it still remain (Shepards bush). Where was all the traffic going to park that was whisked into the centre of london?

The 60's and 70s was a wasted era. Public money was availble, people accepted change and progress but all the planners came up with was motorways. No thought of new high speed rail links, metro's, inter city motorway trunk routes, motorway/metro park and ride interchanges.


I mean what bull headed stupid dodo planned the building of the M25 / M23 linking two of europes busiest airports without building a high speed rail link along side. The additional cost would have been minimal, the benefits huge. The M4 the same, motorway running past heathrows door into the centre of london should have had a rail link built along side.

Wasted chances never to be recovered.
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< Ex RF, Ex TVM >
The Secret Life of the Motorway - drbe
>>
I mean what bull headed stupid dodo planned the building of the M25 / M23
linking two of europes busiest airports without building a high speed rail link along side.

>>

But we have the Heathrow Express and the Gatwick Express running from said airports into central London - or doesn't that count? Plus of course, the London Underground from Heathrow.

Did you mean a dedicated high speed rail link? Shorely not enough traffic to justify the cost?
The Secret Life of the Motorway - Altea Ego
But we have the Heathrow Express and the Gatwick Express running from said airports into
central London - or doesn't that count?


No - it doesent count. They dont link Hethrow and Gatwick Directly. The only link between those two is buses and taxis all using the m25. The m25 should have had a circular rail service all the way round, with an interchange west (heathrow) south (gatwick) north west (northwest main line) and eastish (east coast main line)



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< Ex RF, Ex TVM >
The Secret Life of the Motorway - L'escargot
don't think I'd have been too chuffed to have a motorway
viaduct going past my bedroom window either!


Making single carriageway roads into dual carriageway or building motorways is all very well provided you don't live within about a mile of one. Having lived myself about 1/2 mile from the A1/A1M and having suffered the traffic noise 24 hours a day for about 12 years I'm now not so ready to argue about the inadequacy of some single carriageways roads.
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L'escargot.

Edited by Dynamic Dave on 02/11/2007 at 18:32

The Secret Life of the Motorway - drbe
>> don't think I'd have been too chuffed to have a motorway
>> viaduct going past my bedroom window either!
>>


I had some involvement with the construction of the M4, J2 to J7(?), in the 60s. At one point the new motorway went down the middle of a road - Winchester Avenue Heston, if memory serves me correct. The houses on the Northern side of the road were compulsorily purchased, the houses on the other side of the road were left. The residents whose houses were not purchased thought that they had come off best.

WRONG!

As soon as the new motorway opened residents were quite literally being driven mad by the noise. At that point although the road is not elevated like the stretch through Brentford, it is raised sufficiently to put the running surface on a level with bedroom windows. Residents did not know what was worse, the continous drone all day, or the intermittent noise every few seconds through the night.
 

Value my car