Westway, London

For other uses of Westway, see Westway (disambiguation).
Westway flyover at junction with West Cross Route, looking east

Westway is a 3.5-mile (5.6 km) long elevated dual carriageway section of the A40 trunk road in west London running from Paddington to North Kensington. The road was constructed between 1964 and 1970 to relieve congestion at Shepherd's Bush caused by traffic from Western Avenue struggling to enter central London on roads of insufficient capacity. Westway opened in July 1970 as the A40(M) motorway but lost motorway status in 2000 when responsibility for trunk roads in Greater London was transferred from the Highways Agency to the Greater London Authority.

Then Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, announced in March 2013 that over the coming years, parts of the Westway would be reconstructed to allow a separated cycleway to be built on it. The space required would be provided by reducing vehicle capacity.[1]


At its eastern end, Westway starts to the west of the Marylebone Flyover (A501), which takes traffic over the junction of Edgware Road (A5) and Marylebone Road (A501). Between the elevated Westway and the flyover, a short (100 m) section of surface-level road allows westbound traffic from the flyover to turn-off on to the Harrow Road (A404) or eastbound traffic from the Harrow Road to access the flyover. Eastbound traffic from Westway cannot exit here to reach the Edgware Road and continues on to the flyover.

Westway at Paddington

Heading west, Westway rises sharply as it passes Paddington Green (at this point having two lanes in each direction), then crosses the Grand Union Canal branch to Paddington Basin just south of Little Venice. As the road passes Westbourne Green on the north and Royal Oak Underground Station on the south, it gains a lane as a steeply climbing slip-road from Gloucester Terrace joins. In the eastbound direction, a lane is lost as a slip-road descends to cross the Network Rail tracks to Paddington station via the large plate-girder Westbourne Bridge, a road that previously carried traffic from Harrow Road to Bishops Bridge Road but was blocked at the north end and appropriated for the Westway scheme.

Continuing westward, Westway runs parallel with the Great Western Main Line railway for about 12 mile (0.80 km) before turning south-west at Westbourne Park and crossing the railway to run immediately adjacent to London Underground's Hammersmith & City line for 34 mile (1.2 km) as far as Ladbroke Grove station, after which it returns to a more east-west alignment for the 12 mile (0.80 km) to the elevated roundabout junction with the West Cross Route (A3220) and flyover that takes vehicles high above the roundabout and Wood Lane (A219) to return to ground level and connect to the end of Western Avenue.

With the extension westward of the London Congestion Charge Zone between 19 February 2007 and 4 January 2011, the part of the road between Westbourne Park and the Westway roundabout that passed through the zone was designated as a "free through route" that allowed vehicles to cross the zone without paying the charge.


The route of the Westway was chosen to follow the easiest path from Western Avenue to Paddington by following the route of existing railway lines. Passing an eight lane elevated motorway through densely populated Victorian North Kensington, though, involved the clearance of a large number of buildings adjacent to the railway, particularly in the area west of Westbourne Park, where many roads were unceremoniously truncated or demolished to make way for the concrete structures. The main contractor was John Laing & Sons.[2]

At its opening the road was the largest continuous concrete structure in Britain, and was constructed with many advanced features, such as heating grids on slopes to control the formation of ice. It was planned and constructed in an era before environmental impacts were routinely considered, and it caused much controversy at the time for the effects it and the vehicles it carried had upon the local community and the environment. After completion a vast corridor of wasteland remained below the motorway. The North Kensington Amenity Trust (now Westway Development Trust), was founded in 1971 to reclaim and develop this land for local community use, and since 2000 local charity Urban Eye has initiated a programme of cleaning, painting, and lighting to brighten up and improve the safety of the areas under the flyover structure.[3]


See London Ringways for a detailed history

The Westway was built to form a link from Paddington to Ringway 1, the innermost circuit of the London Ringways network, part of a complex and comprehensive plan for a network of high speed roads circling and radiating out from central London designed to manage and control the flow of traffic within the capital. This plan had developed from early schemes prior to the Second World War through Patrick Abercrombie's County of London Plan, 1943 and Greater London Plan, 1944 to a 1960s Greater London Council (GLC) scheme that would have involved the construction of many miles of motorway standard roads across the city and demolition on a massive scale. Due to the huge construction costs and widespread public opposition, most of the scheme was cancelled in 1973 and the Westway, the West Cross Route and East Cross Route in east London were the only significant parts to be built.

The construction of the elevated roundabout junction with the West Cross Route was built with the capability to be extended once the planned northern continuation of the West Cross Route was constructed to Harlesden. Two stubs on the roundabout's north side were built for the connection of slip roads and the alignment of the slip roads between the West Cross Route and the roundabout avoided the planned line of the road to the north.

Plan of the London Motorway Box scheme from mid 1960s showing the Westway

The 1997 murder mystery "A Certain Justice" by P. D. James was set in a neighborhood being demolished for the Westway. "But their world was crashing down with their houses, rising in great choking clouds of ochre dust."

The 1974 novel Concrete Island by J. G. Ballard was set in a junction between the Westway and M4 Motorway.

The Westway has featured in songs by many British Rock bands:



Coordinates: 51°30′56″N 0°13′15″W / 51.51556°N 0.22083°W / 51.51556; -0.22083

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