24 Aug 2021
VINTAGE WEEK: FACTS FROM THE PAST
1. Pedestrian crossings were introduced in 1934. Their black-and-white stripes were not added until 1951.
2. The earliest recorded use of the phrase “road safety” was in 1906 in a book by Henry C Pearson entitled Rubber Tires and All About Them.
3. The first section of motorway was the Preston Bypass in Lancashire, now part of the M6 motorway, which opened in 1958 and was only eight miles long
4. A year after the M6 opened, the first services opened as well. These services were called The Watford Gap and were so popular that families from across the country would visit them for a day out. Can you imagine planning a family day out to your local motorway services? It would be a bit strange, wouldn’t it?
5. The first pedestrian killed by a car in the UK was Bridget Driscoll, 44, of Croydon in 1896…though curiously, her almost namesake, Bridget O’Driscoll was a Titanic survivor in 1912.
6. Without Edgar Hooley, we would still be driving along dirt tracks instead of tarmac roads, as tarmac roads were his invention. In 1901, Edgar Hooley noticed a smooth area of the road next to an ironworks, he asked the workers what had happened and was told a barrel of tar had burst. A year later, he patented the process of heating tar and adding stones, to create tarmac.
7. The Ridgeway is the UK’s oldest road – it dates back over 5,000 years. It may not be the first tarmac road, which was built in 1902 in Nottingham, but the Ridgeway is the oldest ever road in the UK. Running from Wiltshire to Berkshire, this road has been used for thousands of years and still continues to be used today.
8. According to the Guinness World Book Of Records, the worst ever traffic jam to date was on April 5 1985 when there was a 40-mile hold up on the M1, which snaked all the way from junction 16 to 18, leaving hundreds of motorists trapped in their cars for hours.
9. The first traffic signals in Britain (and indeed the world) were installed outside the Houses of Parliament on December 10 1868.
10. The driving test was first introduced in 1935 and more than 46 million tests have been taken since.