Mancunian Way

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A57(M) motorway shield

A57(M) motorway
Mancunian Way
Route information
Length: 2.0 mi (3.2 km)
Existed: 1967 – present
History: Additional slip roads completed in 1992
Major junctions
From: Hulme
To: Ardwick
Road network
A view of the Mancunian Way elevated motorway near the University of Manchester.

The Mancunian Way is a two mile long motorway in Manchester, England. It is officially made up of the A57(M) and A635(M) motorways, although the latter does not appear on road signs for practical reasons.[1] It is also part of the A57, which runs east-west through Greater Manchester and links the M602 and M67 motorways.


The road forms a major part of the Manchester-Salford Inner Ring Road and runs south of the city centre. Running eastbound, it starts as a 2 lane dual carriageway and passes underneath the A56. Following this, the road widens to 3 lanes. At the next junction which leads to the A5103, the road reduces to 2 lanes and becomes an elevated highway. This section runs atop link roads and two roundabouts before reaching the next junction with the A34. At this point the road passes through the centre of the campuses of UMIST (now part of the University of Manchester) and Manchester Metropolitan University. It then runs for around ¾ mile (1.2 km) before reaching its junction with the A6 which it crosses on a bridge before dropping down to ground level. It then finishes on the A635 and continues eastbound, and also continues to be called the Mancunian Way.


The Mancunian Way was conceived to form part of the South East Lancashire and North East Cheshire (SELNEC) Highway Plan of 1962, although similar proposals were developed from 1959.[2] A Parliamentary Bill to authorise the construction of the Mancunian Way was proposed and approved in 1961.

The construction was carried out in two phases: the first stage involved the construction of a dual carriageway of 950 yd to the east of the A6 road in November 1963 and was opened to traffic as part of the A636 road in November 1965. The second stage was the construction, from December 1964, of a 0.6 mi (1 km) long elevated highway of a motorway standard which ran between the A6 and A56 roads. The second stage was open to traffic as part of the A57 road in March 1967. The day previous it was opened to pedestrians, who were allowed to walk the whole of the high-level route as a sight seeing, publicity exercise. Many people brought picnics which they ate in the centre of the carriageway. At that time, the construction specifications had included cosmetic fairings to the tops of the support piers. These completely enclosed the roller bearings upon which the elevated roadway sits. However, the first time these bearings were serviced, the fairings were removed and never replaced. This leaves the poorer appearance we see today and also allows the ingress of dirt to the bearings.

The Mancunian Way was officially opened by Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, on 5 May 1967. In the 1970s it was upgraded to motorway status as the A57(M) and the speed limit was raised to 50 miles per hour (80 km/h).[3] At the time of its opening the Manchester Evening News referred to it as the "highway in the sky".[4]

In 1992 the westbound junction was rebuilt to replace a temporary flyover, whereby the A56 passed over a roundabout where the A57(M) originally ended. At the same time a new flyover was built at the eastern end, over the A6, but was legally designated as the A635(M) in 1995.[1]


Just before the junction with the A34 is an unfinished slip road (stub) that ends in mid-air, although it is hidden from the road by an advertising billboard. This was intended to be part of a dual carriageway into the city centre;[5] this plan was later abandoned.[6] The slip road would have been connected to Princess Street which is now a one-way street out of Manchester city centre.

The last ½ mile (0.80 km) of the Mancunian Way in the east is part of the A635, the A57 heading south east from the same junction as the A6, though it states A57(M) on the signage as you enter westbound. Department for Transport documentation states differently,[7] so officially the Mancunian Way consists of two motorways, the A57(M) and the A635(M).

Cultural references[edit]

  • The road is referenced in the BBC television drama Life On Mars. The central character, Sam Tyler, is knocked down by a car and "awakens" in 1973. The accident occurs by the Mancunian Way, and when he awakens, he does so on wasteland, with a nearby billboard advertising the planned "Highway in the Sky". Of course, the road was long completed by 1973.
  • The 2006 Take That album Beautiful World includes a track entitled "Mancunian Way", which concerns the subject of Manchester generally.


Note: motorway has no junction numbers
Ramp stub off the Mancunian Way at the junction with the A34
A57(M) and A635(M) motorways
Eastbound exits Junction Westbound exits
Road continues as A635 to Ashton-under-Lyne, Mossley and Greenfield Manchester Piccadilly, Stockport, Hyde A6
Sheffield (A57)
Manchester Piccadilly, Stockport, Hyde A6
Sheffield (A57)
Start of motorway
UMIST, Wilmslow, Cheadle, A34 No exit
No exit Didsbury, Birmingham, Manchester Airport, Chester, A5103
Didsbury, Birmingham, Manchester Airport, Chester A5103 No exit
Start of motorway Stretford, Sale, Castlefield, Manchester Central Convention Complex A56
Stretford, Sale, Castlefield, Manchester Central A56 Road continues as A57 to Salford and M602

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Department for Transport (14 December 1995). "Statutory Instrument 1995 No. 3266". Retrieved 28 August 2009. 
  2. ^ "A57(M)/A635(M) Mancunian Way". The Motorway Archive. Retrieved 28 August 2009. 
  3. ^ Rural Roads Old Maps Page – This page shows a selection of maps that show the road as A class when opened and later on as a motorway.
  4. ^ Manchester Evening News, Manchester Online – Eyewitness in Manchester Newsletter
  5. ^ Manchester Evening News, Manchester Online – Eyewitness in Manchester Newsletter Photo & Description
  6. ^ CBRD Motorway Database – A57(M)
  7. ^ Statutory Instrument 1995 No. 3266

Further reading[edit]

  • "The Mancunian Way – Manchester's Prestressed Concrete Elevated Roadway". Concrete Quarterly (72) January–March 1967. (Detailed construction information).

External links[edit]

Route map: Bing