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Junction 6 - Gravelly Hill - Spaghetti Junction

"Spaghetti Junction, officially the Gravelly Hill Interchange, is the complex motorway junction between M6 and the A38(M) several miles north of Birmingham city centre." - from Rodspages

Spaghetti Junction, 30 years old in 2002, covers 30 acres, serves 18 routes and includes 2.5 miles of slip roads, but only 0.6 miles of the M6 itself. It connects the M6 southbound - leading to the M1, the M6 northbound - also leeading to the M5, the A38M into Birmingham City centre and a number of other roads. It also straddles three canals, two rivers and a main railway line.

Work on the junction started in 1968 and took 4 years to complete construction of the 18 roads and 559 concrete columns, reaching up to 24.4 metres height.

Gravelly Hill Interchange, dubbed Spaghetti junction, was Britain's first free-flow interchange not involving roundabouts or traffic lights. (Scary thought, only 30 yrs on).

If you wanted to cover every road on the Junction itself, adhering to the Highway Code, you would have to drive approximately 73 miles. On a good day that might take as little as 80 minutes. On an averge West Midlands day, you are best to set aside a couple of hours at least.

How can the local MP be so proud to celebrate its 30th birthday in the national press? Read on ...

An idea of how complicated it can be to the uninitiated can be gleaned from this aerial snapshot, or indeed from some free online satellite photography at up to / down to 1:5000 scale.

It has embedded itself so deeply in local culture that even the University of Central England Students' Union have named their official rag after it.

Birmingham Cathedral went as far as having a new set of vestments created, bearing a motif of Gravelly Hill interchange, rather than something more other-worldly.  

Oh, and some band called Elastica even name-check it in a song entitled Car Song. Nice.

It's also an arty location. While perhaps not quite "Under the Bridge" with da Chillis, 'Under Spaghetti Junction' shows the artistic side of the side.

And John Howard would like you to view the first and second of his Junction Six studies.


All rights reserved. ęPhilip Ralph Johnston 1999
Updated: 8 Aug 04
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