Building the M62: The missing four junctions, the farm in the middle and ‘go steady’ warning

It's England's highest motorway and one of its busiest. But the construction of the M62[1] is also a tale in itself. Generations have now grown up with the motorway fully completed, but plenty will still remember life before it, in the 1950s and earlier.

Before then, travel over the Pennines between Lancashire and Yorkshire was more difficult, with no major road linking the two counties. However, the road started out much earlier than the 1960s, and the first plans were laid down almost a century ago.

Liverpool and Manchester

Plans for a road were originally discussed in the 1930s, but with the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, many of these plans were put on hold.

After the war's end in 1945, engineers were appointed by the Ministry for Transport to inspect the road standards between the A580 in Lancashire and the A1 here in Yorkshire. Construction began in Greater Manchester, with the Stretford-Eccles Bypass beginning construction in 1957. This is now the section between junctions seven and 13 of the M60[3] and was completed in 1960.

The last section of the M62 being completed at North Cave in 1976The last section of the M62 being completed at North Cave in 1976

Some parts of the motorway were never actually completed in Liverpool, which is the reason why the M62 does not have a junction one, two, three or four.

Originally it was set to complete at Liverpool's Inner Motorway, but this was never built. In fact, the section between Tarbock and Liverpool was actually the last to be completed, only being finished in 1976. It only extends as far as the Queens Drive Inner Ring Road in Liverpool.

The section between Liverpool and Manchester began construction in 1971, completing in 1974 and finishing the western leg of the motorway. As for Yorkshire, in 1961, surveying for the roads most famous section began, the route over the Pennines.


Outlane before the M62Outlane before the M62

The Pennines separate the two industrial areas of West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester, two places with huge populations and, at the time, strong industry. This was one of the major objectives of the road, to link the two together.

However, it was also the most difficult part. The route for the road was finally decided in July 1963, and construction began between Windy Hill and Pole Moor and the point at Windy Hill sits at 372 metres above sea level, the highest point of any motorway in England. There are a number of remarkable sections over the Pennines, including the Rakewood Viaduct and Scammonden Bridge.

Due to the engineers deciding to split the carriageways due to the terrain, Stott Hill Farm sits in the middle of the M62 in Calderdale, forming a local landmark.

Queen Elizabeth makes a speech at Scammonden Dam on October 14, 1971Queen Elizabeth makes a speech at Scammonden Dam on October 14, 1971

As for Scammonden Bridge, at the time it was built it was the longest single-span non-suspension bridge in the country. Even now, its remains an impressive site above the M62. When it opened, advice was issued to "go steady" on the Pennine stretch due to the poor weather[4], which remains a common problem for drivers on the road.

Even worse for those first few brave souls was the fact that warning signs had not yet been installed on the stretch when it first opened. Queen Elizabeth II also attended the opening, making a speech at Scammonden Dam. However, the road did not finish here, and continued its journey eastwards.

The Yorkshire leg

In West Yorkshire, the village on Tingley was partially destroyed by the construction, and now the Tingley Interchange stands in its place.

The Lofthouse Interchange was also constructed to connect the M62 to the country's first motorway, the M1. Meanwhile the section between Lofthouse and Ferrybridge began construction in 1972 and was completed in 1974, crossing the River Calder. Finally, the road was extended between Ferrybridge and North Cave, which was the last planned section.

This work began in 1973, with the Ouse Bridge taking a great deal of time.

Eventually, the road east of Goole was opened in May 1976, bringing the construction of the motorway to a halt.


  1. ^ M62 (
  2. ^ 'Mancunian Way should link to the M1 by 25-mile long tunnel' (
  3. ^ M60 (
  4. ^ weather (