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The M5 is a motorway in Englandmarker. It runs from a junction with the M6 at West Bromwichmarker near Birminghammarker to Exetermarker in Devonmarker. Heading south-west, the M5 runs east of West Bromwichmarker and west of Birminghammarker through Sandwell Valley. The road continues past Bromsgrovemarker, Droitwich Spamarker, Worcestermarker, Tewkesburymarker, Cheltenhammarker, Gloucestermarker, Bristolmarker, Weston-super-Maremarker, Highbridgemarker, Bridgwatermarker and Tauntonmarker on its way to Exeter, ending at Junction 31. It is the primary gateway to south-west England and can get very busy in summer months, especially on Friday afternoons on the southern section.



The first of the M5 motorway to be built was constructed as a dual two-lane motorway (two lanes in each direction), with Worcester County Council acting as engineer.Charlesworth, George (1984), pp.135-140. This section, from Junction 4 (Lydiate Ashmarker) in the north to a trumpet junction with the M50marker in the south, opened in 1963.Charlesworth, George (1984), Table 7.3 - pp.100-123. The southern end was called a trumpet junction because of its shape: a 270 degree curved bend. There were no other exits from this trumpet junction though room was left for an extension to the south.

The dual two-lane section between junctions 16 and 17 was built at Filtonmarker, near Bristolmarker opened in 1962, with Gloucester County Council acting as engineer which was intended to replace the pre-war Filton bypass. This section was widened to a dual three-lane motorway in 1969.

The section north of Junction 4 was constucted in sections, from 1967 to 1970 together with the Frankley services. Much of the northern section beyond Junction 3, from about Quintonmarker to its junction with the M6 motorway was constructed as an elevated dual 3-lane motorway using concrete pillars.

The M5 was also extended southwards, in sections, from 1967 to 1977, through Somersetmarker, to Exetermarker, as a dual three-lane motorway together with the Strensham services.

The short section between junctions 27 and 29 was built in 1967/69, by Devon County Council, as the A38 Cullompton Bypass, with the intention that it should become part of the M5. The termini for this section have since been removed, although part of the southern terminal roundabout is now used as an emergency access. It was developed to motorway standards, and incorporated into the M5 in 1975.

Operational history

The section from Junctions 16 and 18 was illuminated in about 1973 as part or a wider policy announced by UK Minister for Transport Industries in 1972 to illuminate the 86 miles (138 km) of UK motorway particularly prone to fog. .

In the late 1980s junction 4a was built as part of the M42 motorway construction project. The route of the M42 was decided as early as 1972 but, due to planning delays, approval at the Bromsgrove end was not obtained until 1986.

The first-built section of M5, from junctions 3 to 8, was widened to provide six lanes (three lanes in each direction) in the early 1990s. During this work the northbound Strensham Services was rebuilt further away from the new junction. Junctions 7 and 8 were also remodelled into a roundabout junction.

The Avonmouth Bridge, Bristol.
The Avonmouth Bridgemarker was converted to eight lanes (four lanes in each direction) in the early 2000s. Later, in 2005–2006, parts of the M5 between Junctions 17 and 20 were widened to 7 lanes (four lanes climbing the hills and three lanes descending the hills); information boards were added and parts of the central reservation was converted to a concrete step barrier. During this stage of construction the M5 became Britain's longest contraflow system,spanning between junctions 19 and 20. The M5 contraflow was said to be the most complicated ever built in the UK as the motorway is on a split level around the steep hills of the Gordano Valleymarker; meaning four lanes plus an additional emergency vehicle lane were squeezed into that section.Most of the contraflow had speed limits of and required six speed cameras to enforce the speed limit through the narrow lanes.

In 2002 a southbound exit for Junction 12 has added. The Highways Agency did not anticipate the traffic flows through the junction and the resultant queues can now extend back onto the motorway. This is because of an increase in traffic from Stroud intending to use the M5 northbound. The distance from junctions 12 and 13 is similar and traffic congestion is heavy on the A419 towards junction 13 whereas it is usually lighter on the B4008 towards junction 12. As traffic leaving the M5 northbound towards Gloucester needs to give way to this traffic coming from the B4008, the queue on the motorway can extend beyond the first sign for the junction.

In 2009 it was announced that the lighting between junctions 30 and 31 had been turned off between midnight and 5am to save energy.


Notable features of the M5 include the four level Almondsbury Interchangemarker, between the M5 and the M4 near Bristol. Another is the Avonmouth Bridgemarker that is often a bottleneck in heavy traffic. Beyond that are the split-level carriageways, as the motorway climbs the sides of the hills above the Gordano valley, between Portisheadmarker and Clevedonmarker. Junction 1 surrounds a surviving gatehouse from the former Sandwell Hall.

The M5 follows the route of the A38 road quite closely. The two deviate slightly around Bristol and the area south of Bristol (junctions 16 to 22). The A38 goes straight through the centre of Bristol and passes by Bristol International Airportmarker; whereas the M5 skirts around both of them, with access to the airport from junctions 18, 19 or 22. The A38 continues south from where the M5 finishes in Devon.

Between Junction 21, Weston-super-Mare and Junction 22, Burnham-on-Sea, the M5 passes by an isolated landmark hill called Brent Knollmarker.


from driver location signs are used to provide distance and carriageway identifier information.
M5 Motorway
km Northbound exits (B Carriageway) Junction Southbound exits (A Carriageway)
0.0 The NORTH WEST, Wolverhampton, Birmingham (North & East), Walsall M6 M6, J8

Start of motorway
4.4 West Bromwichmarker, Birminghammarker (North West) A41 J1 West Bromwich, Birmingham (North West) A41
8.7 Dudleymarker, Wolverhamptonmarker,
Birmingham (West) A4123
J2 Dudley, Wolverhampton, Birmingham (West) A4123
13.3 Birmingham (South West & Central) A456 J3 Kidderminstermarker A456
Frankley Services Services Frankley Services
23.8 Birmingham (South) A38
Stourbridge A491
J4 Bromsgrovemarker A38
Stourbridge A491
26.3 NECmarker, Birmingham Airportmarker,Redditch M42, London (M40M1) J4a

Birmingham (South & East), Redditch M42, London (M40)
34.9 Droitwich Spamarker, Bromsgrove A38 J5 Droitwich Spa A38
Worcestermarker (North), Kidderminster A449 J6 Worcester (North) A449
Eveshammarker A4538
Worcester (South) A44 J7 Worcester (South) A44
Strensham services Services Strensham services
64.2 SOUTH WALESmarker, Ross-on-Wyemarker M50marker J8 SOUTH WALES, Ross M50
70.9 Tewkesburymarker A438 Eveshammarker A46 J9 Tewkesbury A438 Evesham A46
77.4 No access J10 Cheltenhammarker A4019
82.6 Cheltenham, Gloucester (North),
Gloucestershire Airport A40
J11 Cheltenham, Gloucester (North),
Gloucestershire Airport A40
86.4 Gloucester, Cirencester (East) A417 J11a London, Cirencester A417
97.3 Gloucester (South) (A38) J12 Gloucester (South) (A38)
102.2 Stroudmarker A419 J13 Stroud A419
115.7 Michaelwood servicesmarker Services Michaelwood services
118.8 Dursleymarker, Charfieldmarker, Falfieldmarker,
Wotton-under-Edgemarker B4509
J14 Thornburymarker, Charfield, Falfield,
Wotton-under-Edge B4509
London, Bristolmarker (M32), South Wales,
Chepstowmarker (M48M4

Almondsbury Interchangemarker
J15 London, Bristol (M32), South Wales,
Chepstow (M48) M4

Almondsbury Interchange
132.4 Thornburymarker, Filtonmarker A38 J16 Thornbury, Filton A38
135.8 Bristol (West) A4018
Severn Beachmarker B4055
J17 Bristol (West) A4018
Severn Beach B4055
South Wales, Cardiffmarker, Newportmarker M49 J18a No access
Avonmouthmarker, Avonmouth Docksmarker A4marker J18 Avonmouth, Avonmouth Docks A4
Avonmouth Bridgemarker Bridge Avonmouth Bridge
145.0 Portisheadmarker, Royal Portbury Dockmarker,
Easton in Gordanomarker A369

Gordano Services

Portishead, Royal Portbury Dock,
Easton in Gordano A369

Gordano Services
155.6 Nailseamarker, Clevedonmarker B3133 J20 Nailsea, Clevedon B3133
164.6 Weston-super-Maremarker, Bristol (South) A370 J21 Weston-super-Mare A370
175.6 Sedgemoor services Services Sedgemoor Services
179.8 Burnham on Seamarker, Weston-Super-Mare,
Bristol (South), Airportmarker A38
J22 Burnham on Sea, Highbridgemarker A38
188.1 Highbridge A38
Glastonburymarker, Wellsmarker A39
J23 Bridgwatermarker A38
Glastonbury, Wells A39
196.0 Bridgwater, Mineheadmarker A38
Bridgwater services
Minehead, (A39) A38
Bridgwater services
206.7 Tauntonmarker, Yeovilmarker A358 J25 Taunton, Honiton, Yeovil, Weymouth A358
214.5 Taunton Deane services Services Taunton Deane services
217.8 Wellingtonmarker, Taunton A38 J26 Wellington A38
230.4 Barnstaplemarker, Tivertonmarker A361
Wellington A38
Tiverton Parkway railway stationmarker

J27 Barnstaplemarker, Tivertonmarker A361
Willandmarker (B3181)
Tiverton Parkway railway stationmarker

237.7 Cullomptonmarker B3181
Cullompton services
Cullompton B3181
Honitonmarker A373
Cullompton services

254.2 Honiton A30
Exeter International Airportmarker A3015
J29 Honiton A30
Exeter International Airport A3015
254.2 Exetermarker A379
Sidmouthmarker, Exmouthmarker (A3052) A376
Exeter services

Exetermarker A379
Sidmouthmarker, Exmouthmarker A376
Exeter services

Start of motorway J31 Bodminmarker, Okehamptonmarker A30
Bodmin, Okehampton A30
Non-motorway traffic
Road becomes A38 from/to Plymouthmarker and Torquaymarker

Coordinate list

See also



  1. Ordnance Survey One Inch Map of Great Britain, Series 7 Sheet 156, major roads revised 1963.
  2. The Motorway Archive - M42
  3. The Motorway Archive - M5 Widening, junctions 3 to 8
  4. Sky News - UK's Longest Contraflow
  5. BBC News - 'Most complex' contraflow
  6. Western Daily Press - West beware! It's Britain's biggest road contraflow
  7. Road Traffic Technology - RedSpeed International Take On Europe's Largest Contraflow
  8. {{cite web|url=|title=Night switch-off for M5 lighting|publisher=BBC News]
  9. J11-J18: Driver Location Signs, M5 J18-11, M4 J22-15 (map) Highway Authority 2009
  10. J19-J30: Driver Location Signs, M5 J19-30 (map) - Highway Authority, 2009
  11. Northern end of M5 (interchange with M6)
  12. Frankley Services (between J3 and J4)
  13. J4a - Start of M42


  • Charlesworth, George (1984). A History of British Motorways. London: Thomas Telford Ltd. ISBN 0-7277-0159-2.

External links

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