M55 motorway
The M55 is a motorway in Lancashire
Lancashire is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in the North West of England. It takes its name from the city of Lancaster, and is sometimes known as the County of Lancaster. Although Lancaster is still considered to be the county town, Lancashire County Council is based in Preston...

, England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, which can also be referred to as the Preston Northern Bypass. It connects the seaside resort
Seaside resort
A seaside resort is a resort, or resort town, located on the coast. Where a beach is the primary focus for tourists, it may be called a beach resort.- Overview :...

 of Blackpool
Blackpool is a borough, seaside town, and unitary authority area of Lancashire, in North West England. It is situated along England's west coast by the Irish Sea, between the Ribble and Wyre estuaries, northwest of Preston, north of Liverpool, and northwest of Manchester...

 to the M6
M6 motorway
The M6 motorway runs from junction 19 of the M1 at the Catthorpe Interchange, near Rugby via Birmingham then heads north, passing Stoke-on-Trent, Manchester, Preston, Carlisle and terminating at the Gretna junction . Here, just short of the Scottish border it becomes the A74 which continues to...

 at Preston. It is 11.4 miles (18.4 km) in length.


The M55 has three lanes in both directions for its entire length. After leaving the M6 at junction 32, the road immediately interchanges with the A6. It then crosses the West Coast Main Line
West Coast Main Line
The West Coast Main Line is the busiest mixed-traffic railway route in Britain, being the country's most important rail backbone in terms of population served. Fast, long-distance inter-city passenger services are provided between London, the West Midlands, the North West, North Wales and the...

 and Lancaster Canal
Lancaster Canal
The Lancaster Canal is a canal in the north of England, originally planned to run from Westhoughton in Lancashire to Kendal in south Cumbria...

 before passing north of Wesham
Medlar with Wesham is civil parish on the Fylde in Lancashire, England. It lies within the Borough of Fylde, and had a population of 3,245 in 1,294 households recorded in the 2001 census....

 to meet junction 3. It then continues west in a rural
Rural areas or the country or countryside are areas that are not urbanized, though when large areas are described, country towns and smaller cities will be included. They have a low population density, and typically much of the land is devoted to agriculture...

 setting to meet junction 4, where the motorway ends and becomes the A5230. The western part of the M55, and the first few hundred metres of the A5230, occupy the route of the old Blackpool Branch railway line
Blackpool Branch Line
The Blackpool Branch Line runs from Preston to Blackpool. The line diverges at Kirkham and Wesham junction - a double track branch runs to Blackpool North station , while a single track branch runs to Blackpool South station.-Preston to Blackpool North:The route is used by the bulk of Blackpool's...



  • M6 to Junction 1 opened as part of the M6 Preston Bypass in 1958.
  • Junctions 1 to 4 opened in 1975.

The first motorway constructed in Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 was the M6 Preston Bypass, opened in 1958. This ran from the current M6 junction 29 to the M55 junction 1. It was built as a 2 lane route. In 1965 the M6 was extended north from what is the current day junction 32 to meet the Lancaster Bypass, and the M6 junction was rebuilt to its current design to connect the A6 at the now M55 junction 1. Due to increasing traffic, it was decided to provide a motorway link to Blackpool and this road was opened in 1975.

Some of the material for backfilling the new M55 was obtained from a nearby disused airfield at RNAS Inskip, where the runways were broken up and the land returned to agriculture. More material came from the Tootle Heights quarries in Longridge
Longridge is a small town and civil parish in the borough of Ribble Valley in Lancashire, England. It is situated north-east of the city of Preston, at the western end of Longridge Fell, a long ridge above the River Ribble. Its nearest neighbours are Grimsargh and the Roman town of Ribchester , ...


Unfulfilled Plans

The motorway has no Junction 2. A proposed South Ribble link road would have involved the extension of the M65 motorway
M65 motorway
The M65 is a motorway in Lancashire, England. It runs from just south of Preston through the major junction of the M6 and M61 motorways, east past Darwen, Blackburn, Accrington, Burnley, Nelson and ends at Colne.-History:...

 around the west of Preston to link to the M55 at the missing junction. The link road proposal has been dormant since the mid-1990s. Between 1993 and 1995, the M6 around the east of Preston was widened to four lanes, making the link road proposal less likely.

Aircraft test landing

During construction of the M55, the Jaguar
The SEPECAT Jaguar is an Anglo-French jet ground attack aircraft, originally used by the British Royal Air Force and the French Armée de l'Air in the close air support and nuclear strike role, and still in service with several export customers, notably the Indian Air Force and the Royal Air Force...

 military aircraft, from nearby Warton Aerodrome
Warton Aerodrome
Warton Aerodrome is located near to Warton village on the Fylde in Lancashire, England. The aerodrome is west of Preston, Lancashire, UK.Today the airfield is a major assembly and testing facility of BAE Systems Military Air Solutions....

, made a test landing on the motorway, in order to prove its capability to use makeshift runways in time of war.


Data from driver location signs
Driver location signs
Driver location signs are English highway route markers, first introduced in 2003, that complement distance marker posts. Both types of marker post display the distances from a nominal start point in kilometres...

 are used to provide distance and carriageway identifier information.
M55 Motorway
km Eastbound exits (A Carriageway) Junction Westbound exits (B Carriageway)
26.0 The NORTH WEST, Lancaster
Lancaster, Lancashire
Lancaster is the county town of Lancashire, England. It is situated on the River Lune and has a population of 45,952. Lancaster is a constituent settlement of the wider City of Lancaster, local government district which has a population of 133,914 and encompasses several outlying towns, including...

The South
-Geography:* Southern United States* South of England* South of France* South Italy* South Korea* Republic of Ireland* South Province * Global South, the developing nations of the world-Other uses:* The South , by Victor Erice...

, Manchester
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

M61 motorway
The M61 motorway is a motorway in North West England. It runs from the M60 motorway northwest of Manchester and heads northwest past Bolton and Chorley to join the M6 just north of the junction between the M6 and M65 motorways to the south of Preston....

), Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

M58 motorway
The M58 is a motorway passing through Merseyside and Lancashire, terminating in Greater Manchester, England. It is 12 miles long and provides a link between the M6 motorway and the area north of Liverpool.-Route:...

M6, J32 Start of Motorway
24.2 Preston, Broughton
Broughton, Lancashire
Broughton is a village and civil parish in the City of Preston, Lancashire, England, about north of Preston city centre. According to the 2001 census it had a population of 1,735...

Broughton Roundabout
Preston, Broughton A6
13.0 Kirkham
Kirkham, Lancashire
Kirkham, or as it once was known, Kirkam-in-Amounderness is a town and civil parish in the Borough of Fylde in Lancashire, England, midway between Blackpool and Preston and adjacent to the smaller town of Wesham. It owes its existence to Carr Hill upon which it was built and which was the location...

, Fleetwood
Fleetwood is a town within the Wyre district of Lancashire, England, lying at the northwest corner of the Fylde. It had a population of 26,840 people at the 2001 Census. It forms part of the Greater Blackpool conurbation. The town was the first planned community of the Victorian era...

A585 road
The A585 is a primary road in England which runs from Kirkham to Fleetwood in Lancashire.The road runs a total distance of just under , on a mixture of rural and urban residential/commercial streets...

Wesham Circle
Kirkham, Poulton-le-Fylde
Poulton-le-Fylde is a market town in Lancashire, England, situated on the coastal plain called the Fylde. As of the 2001 United Kingdom census, it had a population of 18,264. There is evidence of human habitation in the area from 12,000 years ago and several archaeological finds from Roman...

, Fleetwood A585
6.4 Start of Motorway J4
Marton Circle
Great Marton, North Shore A583
A583 road
The A583 is a primary road from Preston to Blackpool in England, via Kirkham. It was once the main route into Blackpool until the construction of the M55 motorway.-Route:...

Great Marton, North Shore A583
Non-motorway traffic
Road continues as A5230 to Blackpool, Airport
Blackpool Airport
Blackpool International Airport is an international airport on the Fylde coast of Lancashire, England, in the Borough of Fylde, just outside the Borough of Blackpool. It was formerly known as Squires Gate Airport....

 and Lytham St Anne's

External links

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