The first section of the M6 the Preston Bypass

Opened in December 1958

Construction of the Preston Bypass

Although the Preston Bypass was the first motoway to open infact the piers on Barton Bridge near Manchester was the first motorway to be started

The Massive Thelwall Viaduct

The hugh viaduct is on of the largest structure on the M6

The Cumberland Gap

The last section of the M6 to be builts took to M6 to the Scottish Border

M6 Motorway dates of openings

Map of Preston Bypass The Preston Bypass opened as Britain's first motorway on 5th December 1958, it ran off the A6 just north of Fulwood round the east of Preston to a junction with the A59, before turning slightly westward to rejoin the A6 near to the A49 junction near Bamber Bridge. What of other parts of the M6?
Map of Lancaster Bypass 1st April 1960 the Lancaster Bypass opened as the second part of the M6, leaving the A6 just north of Carnforth going south to a junction with the A683, then continuing east of Lancaster to rejoin the A6 at Hampson Green. The Lancaster and Preston Bypasses where originally two lane with the provision to make a 3rd lane out of a very wide central reservation, the rest of the M6 opened as a 3 lane motorway.
Map of Stafford Bypass 4th August 1962 the Stafford Bypass opened, this must have seemed very unusual as the A6 went no where near Stafford whilst the other parts of theM6 where about 80 miles north. It left the A513 near to its junction to the A34, went west of Stafford then joined the A34 just south of Stafford.
Map of Stoke on Trent Bypass 5th November 1962 the Newcastle under Lyme/Stoke on Trent Bypass, again another piece of the M6 that had little to do with the A6 it started from a new road the A500 near Audley going west of Newcastle to join the A519 near Hanchurch.
Map of Stafford to Stoke on Trent M6 connevction  6th December 1962 saw the first section of the M6 that was not a bypass as the Newcastle Bypass at Hanchurch was joined to the Stafford Bypass.
Map of Preston  to Warrington Section of the M6 2nd July 1963 saw the extending of the Preston Bypass to Warrington going south past Wigan and finishing at the A57 just east of Warrington.
Map of Warrtington to Stoke on Trent section of the M6 3rd November 1963 saw the above from Warrington joined with the Newcastle Bypass at Audley including the massive Thelwall Viaduct, thus from the original start of the M6 at Fulwood the motorway now extended about 80 miles to Stafford.
Map of Preston to Lancaster section of the M6 1st January 1965 saw the joining of the two oldest sections of the M6 as the southern end of the Lancaster Bypass was joined with the northern end of the Preston Bypass, this section of road included a non skid surface, new designs of bridges and the unusual Forton Service
Map of Stafford to Cannock Section of the M6 2nd March 1966 the M6 head south from the southern end of the Stafford bypass to finish at the A462 just south of Cannock, this piece of new motorway was significant as it crossed the A5 meaning that London bound traffic now had just to negotiate the A5 between the M6 and the M1.
Map of Penrith Bypass 7th November 1968 saw a return to isolated bypasses as the Penrith Bypass opened 35 miles north of the end of the M6 at Carnforth. It left the B5305 just north of Penrith travelers from the A6 had to go 1/2 mile on an improved B5305 from the A6 to reach the M6. It continued west of Penrith to join the A6 at a temporary junction between Hackthorpe and Shap, a traveler now going between Carlisle and Birmingham had just one town to negotiate Kendal.
Map of Cannock to Walsall section of the M6 8th November 1968 saw the M6 head a little nearer to Birmingham with the opening of a short stretch west of Walsall to now terminate on the A34 between Walsall and Birmingham
Map of M6 extension from Walsall to Birmingham 9th July 1970 saw a further extension into Birmingham to a temporary junction on the A453.
Map of Kendal Bypass 11th October 1970 the Penrith Bypass's isolation was ended as the gap was closed from Hackthorpe to Carnforth with the closure of the temporary junction on the A6 just north of Shap, this section on of the most scenic parts of the motorway network included the shap summit then the highest peak on a British motorway.
Map of Carlisle Bypass 14th December 1970 saw a return to isolated bypasses as the Carlisle bypass opened from the A74/A7 junction just north of Carlisle to the A6 just south of Carleton.
Map of Birminbgham north eastern bypass 1st February 1971 saw an isolated stretch open up north of Birmingham between the A453 at Castle Bromich and the A446 just south of Coleshill.
Map of Birmingham to Coventry section of the M6 7th July 1971 saw the above section first extended east of Birmingham from the A446 up to the A46 just north of Coventry bypassing Coventry to the north.
Map of Penrith to Carlisle section of the M6

8th July 1971 saw the gap closed between Penrith and Carlisle bypasses it now meant that the traveler could use the M6 from just north of Carlisle to within 2 miles of Birmingham city centre.

Map of Birmingham northen bypass 10th November 1971 saw the gap at Birmingham closed a little further as the eastern section was extended west from the A453 at Castle Bromich to the A38 at Gravelly Hill terminating at what has become to be known as spaghetti junction.
Map of Coventry to M1 section of M6 11th November 1971 saw the M6 reach the M1 with the opening of the section from the A46 near Coventry to the M1 near Catthorpe just north east of Rugby.
Map of Birmingham Northern bypass May 1972 saw the final link in the M6 chain as the tiny gap was closed just north of Birmingham between the A453 and the A38, it was now possible to travel from Carlisle to London entirely by Motorway.

The M6's Northern end remained at Junction 44 just north of Carlisle for over 3 decades. Further north the A74 which took most of the northern traffice off the M6 was gradually being Replaced by Motorway the southernmost section a bypass of Gretna was opened in 1992, the motorway was complete from the England-Scotland border to Glasgow in 1999

 

The left of gap between the English and Scottish Motorways of 6 miles, filled by the A74 2 lane dual carriageway which became know as the cumberland gap. The government had promised to fill this gap but time went by and no sign of any motorway. It was events on 22 December 2004 that where going to change that, a Lorry travelling southbound overturned due to high winds, 2 other lorries could not siop in time. The resulting crash closed the roasd, however as there where no junctions, on thts stretch of road people became trapped for 24 hours, making national news.

The government now had no choice, upgrading work started on 25th July 2006 and was opened on 5th December 2008 exactly 50 years after the opening of the Preston Bypass