Old concrete bypass is now part of M20
An aerial view showing the route of the original A20 Ashford bypass. Maidstone Road is pictured bottom right with Willesborough at the top of the picture
There have been many notable development milestones in Ashford’s rich history that have played a significant part in shaping the town that we all know today.
Some pass by without any recognition or ceremony, but it’s often the ceremony that marked the start of a development or an official opening or ceremony which acts as a reminder.
One such development milestone that isn’t so apparent to many is that on July 19, it will be 60 years ago since the day in 1957 that the A20 Ashford bypass opened Roads minister Sir Harold Watkinson MP (pictured holding the trilby hat) and other dignitaries at the official opening of the new road on July 19 in 1957. between today’s junction 9 and the top of Hythe Road near to junction 10.
Nowadays, many will drive along part of the original route – better known today as the M20 – without even realising the road’s history.
The bypass, opened by the Roads Minister at the time, Sir Harold Watkinson MP, was the first step in relieving some of the chaos is the town centre at peak intervals.
By 1978, the Department of Transport had earmarked the dualled road to be converted into the M20, which involved extending the route all the way to Folkestone.
The conversion works started in October 1978 and were undertaken by Dowsett Engineering Construction Ltd, which had built many highprofile schemes across the country.
The value of this project was £15 million and comprised of 12.6 kilometres of dual three-lane motorway, 0.5km of dual two-lane and 3.75km of single carriageway, involving 2,072,000 sq m of earthworks excavation and the construction of 15 bridges, seven retaining walls and 13 culverts.
The work necessitated ripping up the former bypass and replacing the bridge over Lees Road.
Many houses in The Street, Willesborough, Hythe Road and Lacton Way were demolished for the work.
Many will be aware that a small section of the original 1957 concrete bypass still exists as Simone Weil Avenue, between junction 9 and Canterbury Road.
This week, Remember When looks back at the opening of the bypass in July 1957.
Have you any photographs or slides that you would be willing to loan to me, to enable them to be scanned for possible feature in the Kentish Express? Please don’t delay, get in touch!
Write to me: Steve Salter, Kentish Express Remember When, Unit 4, Park Mall Shopping Centre, Ashford, Kent. TN24 8RY. Email me at rememberwhen_kmash@ hotmail.co.uk; follow me on Twitter @SteveKMAshford.
Or leave a phone message for me with brief details by calling 01233 623232. The bypass at Willesborough near to the Willesborough Windmill on June 7 in 1957, a month before completion.