Old con­crete by­pass is now part of M20

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Remember When? The Kentish Express Memories Page W -

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.

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