A photo essay showing the changes when Junctions 7 & 8 of the M3 arrived…
So this one maybe a bit ‘niche’, but the story must be commonplace across the country. Motorways bulldozed their way through a landscape, and like the railways before them, changed the status quo of maybe hundreds of years. These two junctions are my nearest in terms of location, and for almost 15 years they marked the outpost of the M3.
Part 1 Junction 7 – Dummer
As motoring increased as a means of transport, the traffic jams through Basingstoke on the A30 and A33 were notorious. Residents were curious and probably relieved when the ‘London to Basingstoke’ Motorway scheme was announced in the 60’s. The first Junctions to become ‘3 – 8’ opened in May and June 1971. At 7, whilst avoiding the village centre of Dummer, several access lanes from the A30 were effected by the construction.
A bit of background…
The Oakley to Dummer road passed through where Junction 7 was planned. It was also in effect the death knell for Kempshott House. (Read more on Kempshott House here.) The road from Oakley is called ‘Trenchards Lane’. It’s a narrow, windy lane which I use daily, (I shouldn’t really…) After the last sharp bend near Southwood Farm, the road comes to a junction on the A30.
There were, and still are very few properties along this road – Oakdown Farm being the exception I could see.
This is as far as the old road goes now. We’ll trace the original route as it carried on in a moment, but turning back, if a traveller was comming from Dummer, this would have been the view back towards Trenchards Lane.
The ‘lost’ Section
We now have to walk along the A30 a little and turn right onto the spur road toward the junction 7 to look for signs of the old lane…
The line of the trees from Oakdown Farm is the course of the lane.
When walking on the spur, which has a gradual rise, looking to the right, the last part of the lane is just about definable with the trees. I’m convinced this was its route.
But eventually, the lane runs into the edge where the Spur road was being built and no traces can be seen.
Looking ahead, the spur and roundabout at Junction 7 have wiped away all traces, but looking at the old maps, the lane carried on through the pine trees, pretty much in the middle. (The M3 is beneath out of view).
Out on the other side…
Walking around the junction is a bit hair rasing when crossing the fast slip lanes – but once on the other side, the road is as it was. Very quickly the feel of a country lane returns, as you walk away from the motorway noise towards Dummer.
Just on the left is a turning into Kempshott Park which would have been the entrance to the esate from the south. The name lives on for now, but with the development planned, the old golf course which has preserved the parkland will soon be change.
If you would like to read more about the M3 construction and data see the useful CBRD website here
Part 2 – Junction 8 – Popham
In some ways junction 8 has more of a ‘story’ to tell, partly because of its spiraling construction. When The M3 arrived, The Popham Interchange was joining 2 already historic routes, The A303 would arrive too, shifting their importance further.
Motorway etiquette was still quite a new thing for most in the early 70’s, and meant that how you a joined a motorway mattered and had to be controlled affair.
Historic Locations – Where the A30 and A33 divided…
For centuries, ‘Popham Fork’ as I’ve seen it refered to, was where 2 main roads met. The West road to Salisbury, Yeovil, Exeter and onto Cornwall, and a South road, to Winchester & Southampton, and The New Forest. When these became numbered they were the A30 and A33 respectively.
Around these parts, our connections to Jane Austen are rightly commented on. The Wheatsheaf pub on the A30 in Dummer, would have been known to Jane and her family, as it was the coaching stop closest to the family home in Steventon, 2 miles away.
Historic Locations – A33 Fork, North & Southbound
Originally when The M3 motorway opened in 1971 it started & finished at Popham, barely a quarter of a mile away. When the M3 was to be extended south in 1985, the slip roads were to alter again, but in the original plan, The A33 was split into 2 lanes, which I’ve tried to explain beneath…
Northbound A33 traffic carried on the old route. But the southbound traffic would filter off to the left, go under the motorway before rejoining the A33, as the motorway ended. (see below).
Today a T- exists into Popham Court lane. It’s great we still have this little bit of this motorway history preserved, so we can visualise it quite well as the old slip lane is still in use, but not for its original purpose!
Below shows were the slip road used to join the A33. When The motorway was extended in 1985, the southbound slip could no longer rejoin at the A33.
Instead, the road was extended alongside the motorway, to join into with Popham Court Lane.
Historic Locations – A30 Fork, North and Soundbound.
So to the other leg of the Junction, off the A30 route. In effect, the A30 which is signposted from Basingstoke with some reverence is about to ‘give way’ to the mighty A303 – the replacement Tunk road to the West, and for several miles after the A30 is lost. But originally when the Motorway was opened it was for A30.
I had to check out where I could access safely on foot. I did find there was a footpath that would take me right through the middle of the lanes! But first off the A30, I passed these cottages which I found to be one of the most striking views of the exercise. I wonder how the original occupants felt when they knew the motorway was coming and then when the bridge was opened?
Through the tunnel the footpath comes out into a green field, but between 4 lanes of the motorway lanes merging… If you look at the map, The M3 starts off before dividing quickly. Surprisingly, Its not as noisy at this spot as I thought it might be.
The footpath comes up to the A33 (top) and M3 feeder to A303 (below)
At the old A30 route near the Crematorium, the road divides in the same way as we saw on the A33. The left fork, southbound will join the A303 after the M3 ceases.
I take a quick look on foot along the southbound section – Here the M3 from London runs overhead, feeding onto the A303…
This image below from the A30, looking North, shows this stretch of road pretty much the same as it has been for centuries, with North Waltham to the left.
Locations – The M3 Intruder?
Not so easy to get imagery unless from a moving vehicle, and I have wanted my focus to be on the original roads perspective or the arrival of the Motorway, but we can’t ignore the Elephant in the room! The M3 sends its tentacles in all directions dividing up the surrounding land. But when you isolate it, something rather different appears…
I think it’s design looks quite elegant. The slip roads, which are needed add the complexity.
So these roads are here now and almost 50 years on and we can’t turn back the clock. On maps it doesn’t look like anything could live within the web of roads – houses or wildlife, but it does. In the midst of these roads, I also found several pockets of quiet I wasn’t expecting. The villages of North Waltham and Dummer were preserved, but for those on the route I’m sure the arrival of the M3 did in some cases seriously effected their ways of life. Any one moving to the area since wouldn’t have the same shock to contend with and would be choosing to live there.