Yep. On 29 October 1986, blessed Margaret opened the path to Hades, when she cut the ribbon which declared the M25 London orbital motorway finally open. 117 miles of miserable tarmac that reputedly holds the crown of Europe’s busiest motorway. Whether this is true is debatable, but everyone knows someone who has spent time at her pleasure, even subconsciously. I’m 99% sure at least one thing that’s in your home now has travelled around the M25 in the back of an HGV.
Like the Channel Tunnel, the outer London orbital road was first mooted over a hundred years ago, but it took until the bad old 1970s before construction commenced with the first stretch (now J23 to J24) opening in autumn 1975. Two million tonnes of concrete, over three million tonnes of tarmac and at least two million shrubs, trees and bushes were planted.
Surely countless members of the Leyland umbrella gave the best years of their haulage lives too. Of course prior to the evil speed cameras, the unofficial “midnight society” used the M25 as a race track. Racers and bikers played chance with motorway patrols (often using two way radios and a ‘bandit’ car upfront, combined with knowing the patrols shift change-over times!) to break the mythical 60-minute barrier including the Dartford tunnels (the Dartford river crossing took another five years to appear in 1991).
A bit like the Internet, one wonders just how we would cope without it today?
But my connection? I did some calculations and I reckon I have spent approximately over 4000 hours travelling along it, or to break it down, nearly six months concurrent. And I add two and half hours to that figure every day… still it holds some memories dear – like the time the cause of a huge tailback was revaled to be a Stallion and Mare in a adjacent field… or the terrifying run back from Winchester to Essex 15 years ago when freezing snow left HGVs paralysed with iced heavy oil tanks.
So was gravel voiced Chris Rea right? Is the M25 the Road to hell?
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.