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Tarmac celebrates sixtieth anniversary of first motorway in the UK

Published by , Editorial Assistant
World Cement,

Tarmac is celebrating the important role that it had in the construction of the UK’s first motorway, 60 years ago this December. The Preston Bypass was a groundbreaking eight mile highway that now forms part of the M6 and M55.

The bypass was a testing ground for technology and design, featuring two lanes in each direction and a broad central reservation, which featured a hedge to reduce dazzle from oncoming headlights. As part of the project, 3.4 million t of earth was excavated, while sustained periods of rain made the work more difficult.

The company has noted that experienced project management helped to minimise delays to the delivery of the motorway. The bypass was officially opened by Harold Macmillan on 5 December 1958, following nearly two and a half years of construction.

Tarmac continues its active presence in Preston, with two facilities from its nationwide network located in the city. The Red Scar and Preston Bold Street plants produce concrete that is essential to building projects across the north of England. Surfacing works on the main Penwortham bypass carriageway have recently been started by the company’s Yorkshire contracting team.

“I was in charge of a mile-long section of the motorway, marking out where the earth had to be dug out, then where the junction came in,” said John Baxter, a section engineer who worked on the project 60 years ago. “There were a few challenges along the way: it was the wettest winter we had had, drainage was a problem, the ground on the embankments was silty, and landowners were not very sympathetic. We overcame these with a good team of engineers and an even better leader in John Cox, who was what you would now call the project manager. He always kept up morale.”

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Tarmac news UK cement news Cement news 2018