Local BBC Sites

Page last updated at 09:58 GMT, Friday, 30 October 2009
M1 prompted first road protestor
M1 Construction
Harold Watkinson, the then Transport Minister, on the M1's inauguration day

The first section of the M1 is now 50 years old.

When it was built in 1959 it was hoped it would boost Britain's postwar economy.

Pressure was put on landowners to drop any objections in the national interest.

Research by the BBC has revealed that only one person successfully objected to the route.

The 52 mile stretch from Luton to Crick in Northamptonshire was opened by Minister for Transport Ernest Marples at Slip End near Luton.

Bob and Paddy Norman live in Luton, and were among the first people to drive on the new road. It was such a novelty that Bob took a home movie of the almost empty carriageways.

M1 Construction
When plans were first announced there were 100 objections

At Brockhall near Northampton, Bernard Brodie's family farm was bisected by the M1. They felt they had no choice but to give way to the route, even though they lost some of their best farming land and hundreds of trees.

Bernard's father decided to keep a record of the construction, and bought a cine camera for the family to film the valley before and during construction. The moving footage can be seen for the first time on Inside Out.

The owners of Greenhill Farm, a few miles north of Brockhall had a bigger problem. Their house was directly in the path of the road and had to be demolished. They however had no regrets about leaving, as they already had a railway line next to their house. So for that family it was a relief.

When the motorway plans were first announced there were 100 objections to the route. But after visits from Government officials all objections were withdrawn, except one.

M1 Construction
John was the only person to succeed in moving the motorway

The incident had been forgotten, even by his family, until Inside Out rediscovered the country's first motorway protestor - John Clements.

He lived at Whilton Locks. His cottages were directly in the path of the motorway and due to be demolished. John, however, had no intention of abandoning his home, his garden or his greenhouse.

He refused to move and was the only person to succeed in moving the motorway, resulting in a two mile bend in the road.




OTHER RELATED BBC LINKS

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2020 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific