Lostock Road, Urmston, Manchester

OS 1937-61
Modern Map
Date opened/built:



0.59 mile (0.95 kms).


9ft (2.74m).

Adjoining footway:


Road type:

Urban arterial.


Modern asphalt; period asphalt, including red asphalt.

Both sides of road:


Adjacent to social housing:


Period mapping:

OS 25 inch revised 1939, published 1947 https://maps.nls.uk/view/126522749 Shows hatchings for cycle tracks but “cycle tracks” not labelled.

OpenCycleMap status:

https://www.opencyclemap.org/?zoom=17&lat=53.45684&lon=-2.34913&layers=B0000 Cycleways marked both sides of road; footways not marked.


Period maps, period newspapers, local archives.


Video, 3 mins 26 sec: https://youtu.be/3VaoBW8PhWw

Young woman on Lostock Road cycle track, from Cycling magazine, 1936.

In 1936, Cycling magazine published a photograph of a young woman riding on a wide, concrete-capped cycle track on Lostock Road, Urmston. This dates the creation of the track to before that date.

Plans for the road had been unveiled in January 1934, one month before the Ministry of Transport decided to build an experimental cycle track on London’s Western Avenue. In March of that year, Urmston Urban District Council requested that “instead of 60 feet as required by the Regional Planning Scheme,” the road should be 80 feet across. It’s likely that this addition was to accommodate cycle tracks and footways on both sides of the road.

The Lostock Road cycle tracks linked through to the later cycle tracks on Barton Road, see BARTON ROAD, URMSTON, MANCHESTER.

Brothers Harry and George Sanders

Both sets of cycle tracks were surfaced with pink concrete, and later resurfaced with red asphalt, some of which can seen poking through the more modern black asphalt. While I was on a site visit to Lostock Road I got chatting to a local man who told me I should speak to brothers who have lived by the road all of their long lives, and who would know who built the cycle track. And they did – it was Albert Locke, an Urmston property developer, said 75-year-old Harry Sanders.

Harry and his older brother George were born in the house that’s still on their business premises in Urmston (they hire out plant and machinery).

In 1941, the presence of the cycle track was newsworthy enough to place in a newspaper house ad. 146 Lostock Road was advertised as “MOD. SEMI” with “3 beds, lounge, dining-room, kitchenette, bath shower; brick garage; greenhouse attached.” The advert said it also had a “well-laid-out garden” and was situated on a “mn road” with “cycle path front.” The house, concluded the ad, was a “gift” at £570.

The houses, roads, shops and other buildings of Urmston were the work of Ernest Leonard Leeming, the council’s town engineer and surveyor from 1933 until his retirement in 1954. Leeming had a fixation with concrete: buildings, seating and even road signs were made from concrete; many are still in situ.

Ernest Leeming had a fixation for concrete — even for road signs.

Leeming also had a fixation with what would become, in part, the M1 motorway. In 1936 he lobbied parliament for a major motor road from London to Edinburgh that would “render unnecessary a great many of the contemplated by-passes, widenings, and cycle tracks for the existing trunk thoroughfares.” This “great highway” should be a Royal Road, he said, “a memorial to the late King.” A year later and he added a cycle track to his “National Road Scheme.”

“It should be the first great motor-way to be built in Britain,” he declared, and it ought to be built with “one wide cycle track, well protected by hedges” that “would probably make cyclists jealous and even autocratic in their regard for it.”

War prevented the building of any such “400-mile super-motor road through Britain” but, by the end of the conflict, Leeming was advocating for such a road again although by this time he had dropped the Royal designation and suggested it ought to be now called the “Churchill Highway,” and that it ought to be built by German prisoners of war.

“Work could be begun immediately,” offered Leeming in May 1945.

“America built the Alaskan highway in about six months. At a modest estimate, and with an early start, Mr. Churchill would be able to enjoy a trip in 1946 along this proposed National highway built to honour him,” he added.

Child cycling on the footway rather than Lostock Road’s period cycle track.

Leeming’s Lostock Road might have been equipped with cycle tracks but the post-war growth in motoring made them anachronistic.

Nevertheless, they continued to be used, albeit sparingly, and some cyclists remember that, in the 1970s and 1980s, the cycle tracks still had priority over side roads. A faded “give way” line on Romley Road is a remnant of this priority and it can still be seen on Google Street View.

It’s possible that this priority was period. A 1936 report in The Guardian said of the Urmston track:

“It will probably be made compulsory for side-road traffic to stop at the cycle tracks before crossing into the main road.”

The utility of the Lostock Road cycle tracks have been much reduced over the years by the parking of cars on them by residents.

In 1987 Urmston borough council tried to stop cars parking on one side of the cycle track with a “Restriction of Use of Cycle Track” order. Clearly, this did not work because the tracks are still used as linear car parks. A recent attempt to prevent this use was reversed within months.

A September 2020 proposal from OneTrafford stated: “Historically, two cycle tracks have been provided along Lostock Road, one on each side of the road.”

From The Cyclist, October 1936.

“However,” continued the proposal, “at this location the existing tracks are also used by local residents and their visitors as an informal parking area, which creates a hazard to cyclists using the tracks … Installing bollards along the two cycle tracks would provide clearly defined segregated cycle facilities on both sides of the road which could be used without risk of coming into conflict with a parked vehicle.”

Protests from residents of Lostock Road started shortly after the installation of the (plastic) bollards and the local authority swiftly removed them.

The latest plan for the road states that a “protected cycle route on Lostock Road to be permanently retained in one direction.”

Bollards are “to be placed along one side of Lostock Road to prevent obstruction of the cycling route.”

Chris Boardman — then Manchester’s cycling and walking commissioner — being interviewed on Lostock Road about 1930s cycle tracks for BBC’s One Show.


Plans for the road had ... “Reported that the County Surveyor has notified approval of the proposal to acquire the land along the frontage of of the Lostock Hall estate, for road widening.” Borough of Stretford Minute Book No 14, Highways and Sewerage Committee, January 1934.

It’s likely that this addition ... Borough of Stretford Minute Book No 14, Highways and Sewerage Committee, 20 March 1934.

The house, concluded ... Manchester Evening News, 11 February 1941.

This “great highway” should be ... “The interesting suggestion has been made by an English road surveyor, Mr E. L. Leeming, Urmston, that as a memorial to the late King a great highway from London to Glasgow should be constructed. His highway would not pass through any town, but would give easy access by existing roads which it would cut through to Carlisle, Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester, Bradford, Birmingham, Leicester, and other cities. A condition of the planning, too, would be that ribbon development would be kept at a distance. The principal feature of the road would be its capacity to give an uninterrupted run, with no speed limit, between Glasgow and Edinburgh and London, and it would render unnecessary a great many of the contemplated by-passes, widenings, and cycle tracks for the existing trunk thoroughfares. There would be “fly-over” junctions at important intersections, and entry into London would be made by an elevated way to Hyde Park. Eighty per cent, of the population, it is calculated, would be served by this road, and communication be made safe, easy, and speedy. The estimated cost is very considerable, about £40,000,000 in all, but that is probably only a fraction of what will yet have to be spent on the national highways. is calculated that the work could be done in five years, and, financed on forty-year basis, would cost no more than £2,000,000 year. At all events the scheme is bold, and no one can say that developments the future may not yet make it an urgent necessity.” Aberdeen Press and Journal, 9 April 1936. “The construction of a trunk road across Britain from London to Glasgow as a national memorial to King George is a proposal which Mr. E. L. Leeming, its author, is laying before the non-party committee of members of Parliament representing the distressed areas. Mr. Leeming is surveyor to tho Urmston Urban District Council. In illustrating the economic advantage Mr. Leeming referred to the saving in ‘ fuel, time, and transport charges, the stimulus to the motor industry, the saving on proposed by-pass roads and special cycle-tracks, “ the help it would be in maintaining the prestige of Britain in the eyes of the world ” Penrith Observer, 14 April 1936.

“It should be the first great motor-way ... “A nation-wide extension ot the principle embodied in the London Passenger Transport Board was suggested by Mr. E. L. Leeming, engineer and surveyor to the Urmston (near Manchester) Urban District Council to the Town and Country Planning Summer School at Manchester yesterday. He was delivering paper ‘On a National Road Scheme,’ and mentioned that when he submitted his proposal for north-west road from London to Glasgow as a memorial he met numerous members of Parliament. Putting the case for the London-Glasgow road ... would include fly-over junctions. “It should be the first great motor-way to be built in Britain,” he declared. Transition curbs and superelevation for speeds up to 80 or 100 miles per hour should be provided. Raised banks and shrubs or low hedges between carriageways would help to remove the difficulty of headlight glare from oncoming traffic, and one wide cycle track well protected by hedges would probably make cyclists jealous and even autocratic in their regard for it. He estimated the total cost at not more than £40,000.000.” Northern Whig, 9 September 1937.

“America built the Alaskan highway ... Manchester Evening News, 24 May 1945.

A faded “give way” line ... https://goo.gl/maps/GUH5NzJaGhy

“It will probably be made compulsory ... The Guardian, 2 Jan 1936.

In 1987 Urmston borough council ... https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/50886/page/4761/data.pdf

The latest plan for the road ... https://activetravel.tfgm.com/schemes/trafford/lostock-road-cycle-track/

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