Church Stretton, A49

OS 1937-61
Modern Map
Date opened/built:



1937 MoT letter says “7,656 yards” but more likely to be 6,929 yards, or 3.94 miles (6.34kms) because that’s the distance between the B5477 and Ludlow Road.


Original width of 9ft (2.74m) says period source but now only narrow footway remains, alternating between east and west sides of the A49.

Adjoining footway:

Yes, but no longer extant.

Road type:

Rural arterial road.


Asphalt, says period source.

Both sides of road:


Adjacent to social housing:


Period mapping:

OS Six-inch, revised 1949, published 1953

OpenCycleMap status: No cycleways or footways marked except for 150m stretch at Crossways on east side of road:


Period maps, newspaper reports, Google Earth 1945 aerial layer, National Archives.

Low to the ground cycle sign on the Church Stretton bypass.

According to a 1937 letter from the Ministry of Transport to the American Embassy in London the Church Stretton bypass was equipped with asphalt-surfaced, 9ft-wide cycle tracks. They are no longer extant but a 1936 newspaper report confirms that the tracks existed. It’s possible the full length of the bypass was not finished until 1941 because an eye-witness reported seeing an opening “without ceremony” in that year.

The bypass north of Church Stretton was built on a Roman alignment.

“It is proposed that a new road should follow the main line of the old Watling Street, which, at this point, is little more than a grass grown track lying almost unrecognised in the fields in a narrow valley,” exaggerated the Belfast Telegraph in 1936.

The “new” bypass was a single carriageway road although the plan had been to add another carriageway, reported The Times in 1935.

“The by-pass will begin at a point to the south of Little Stretton,” described The Times, “and will rejoin the existing road some distance beyond All Stretton. It will have a width of 50ft., including a 20ft. carriageway and a 5ft. footpath.”

The newspaper report added: “The Minister has had under examination the question of providing dual carriageways and cycle tracks, and has received an assurance that every effort will be made to prevent building development which might cause increased expenditure should further land be required at any time for the construction of a second carriageway. One carriageway and footpath are considered adequate for present traffic requirements.”

Clearly, this situation changed because the MoT letter to the American Embassy — which only concerned the cycle track — stated that by 1937 the asphalt-surfaced cycle track was already in existence.

During the war, like many others, the Church Stretton bypass was used for

storing military vehicles.
“When we had a chance, we children would go for a long walk, and on one

occasion we walked as far north as the Strettons,” remembered Graham Berlyn, a child evacuee from Birmingham.

“As it was getting late we needed to go down to the A49 to find a bus to get home,” he told BBC’s People’s War archive.

“Unfortunately in doing so we found ourselves taken in hand by soldiers who were guarding the long lines of military vehicles parked neatly along the length of the not long previously opened Stretton Bypass, which had been taken over for use as a storage area. We were conducted to the Southern end of the storage area and told to clear off, or words to that effect!”


According to a 1937 ... Stats included in letter from MoT to Mr. Stebbins, Assistant Trade Commissioner, American Embassy, Bush House, WC2, 18 March 1937.

They are no longer ... “At the request of the Ministry of Transports the Roads and Bridges Committee of the Salop County Council has extended the by-pass road scheme for Church Stretton ... The new scheme provides for a carriageway of width of twenty-two feet, and the construction of a footpath; also a cycle track not previously contemplated. The estimated cost of the scheme ... is £101,000 ...the Ministry is increasing its grant towards the expenditure from 60 per cent to 75 per cent.” Kington Times, 1 August 1936.

It’s possible the full length ... “A bye-pass around Church Stretton had been opened without ceremony the day of my visit, and I nearly missed The Hotel in consequence.” The Sphere, 26 July 1941.

“It is proposed that ... Belfast Telegraph, 19 November 1936.

“It will have a total ... The Times, 1st August 1935.

“When we had a chance ...

Explore the tracks