Prime Minister opens first Motorway, 1958

Prime Minister opens first Motorway, 1958 Catalogue ref: MT 121/22




Berkeley Square, W.1. Mayfair 9494 (PLEASE ASK FOR THE PRESS OFFICE)

371 5TH December, 1958.


The Prime Minister to-day opened Britain’s first motorway, the Preston By-pass, and so made highway history, and so made highway history.

This high-speed road for motor traffic only forms the first completed part of the future motorway between London and North-West England. Preliminary work will start next year on the construction of the connection southwards to Birmingham and later the link northwards to Lancaster will be put in hand.

The total length of motorway covered by the present road programme- including the Medway Motorway for channel port traffic- is about 380 miles, but already the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, Mr. Harold Watkinson, is considering additions to this system.

« Return to Life in 1950s Britain

This is a Press notice from the Ministry of Transport and Civil aviation announcing the opening of the first motorway in Britain. This is another example of Britain changing in the first decade of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. More motorways developed in her 70 years as Queen.

Introduce the source as a ‘Mystery Document’ to the class. Show the class the document on a whiteboard/or as printed copy. Ask the pupils to examine the document as an object, they do not need to read it at first. Discuss the following questions:

  • What does it look like? [It is a statement. Not a letter, no address or named person]
  • What does heading at the top say?
  • Who is the message is from?
  • How is the text set out?
  • Can you describe the logo?
  • What is a ‘press notice’ do you think? [Clue: think of another word for newspapers]
  • What does the text say?
  • What do you think this source could be? [a statement to the media]
  • Why was this an important event?
  • Why has this message been sent out to the newspapers?
  • Have you ever travelled on a motorway?
  • How do motorways change travel and business in the country?