Maresfield by-pass, an ultra-wide road.

Observer prompts lots of memories about ultra-wide stretches of road near Uckfield

Observer prompted lots of memories to be shared after writing on Saturday about ultra-wide stretches of road near Uckfield.

The independent commentator said, in an Uckfield News column, they were left mystified by two stretches of road, the Maresfield by-pass and the East Hoathly by-pass.

“Why were these single-carriage roads built so wide?” asked Observer. “It looks as if they were prepared as dual carriageways, and then at the last minute the idea was scrapped.”

Read Observer’s full column here: Why are these single-carriage roads near Uckfield built so wide.

Faith Lee wrote in saying she was an Uckfield reporter at the time and the roads were designed as three-lane roads, but with no restrictions on who used the centre bit.

She thinks there was a similar stretch at the top of Millbrook Hill towards Wych Cross, a local accident blackspot.

Faith wrote: “If memory serves me correct, around the time, or just after, the new roads were built the governmnet changes its policy of three lane roads, for safety reasons, and they were stopped.

“As a result we have wider roads round Uckfield than usual for a two-way road. We got caught in the policy change sandwich!”

Veronica Withall recalls on the Uckfield News Facebook page that her house was demolished to accommodate the Uckfield by-pass and she had to be rehoused.


Another view of Maresfield by-pass.

Veronica says: “Maresfield by-pass was built at minimum width for by-passes apparently at the time. Uckfield being slightly earlier was also minimum width and narrower but government changed guidelines by the time Maresfield was built. I presume this possibly applied to East Hoathly as well.”

Gilly Brownsword emailed Uckfield News to say: “I can remember part of the Maresfield by-pass having three lanes when it first opened.

“We used to drive from East Grinstead to Eastbourne. As you say it was very dangerous when two cars decided to pull out together. We were always very careful.”

Chrissy Noble says: “I am sure these were three lane roads when they were first opened. We used to have a lot of three-lane roads in UK – nearside, offside and suicide!”

Bill Palmer says: “Yes Chrissy is right, they were planned as three lane roads, but by the time they came to painting the lines three lane roads were being discontinued and regarded as the cause of many head-on accidents.”

John Warren says: “I’d suggest Maresfield is not a natural overtaking road despite its greater width – it requires a clear oncoming road, line of signt and a quick car, a rare combination these days!

“East Hoathly is different. Easily enough width and length for most modern traffic to jup past slow traffic as you come out of the roundabout (Hailsham bound) and easily enough line of sight to overtake if the road is clear or the traffic in an orderly line, coming the other way (Halland bound).

“The only issue here is if you have an impatient driver who insists on overtaking when somebody else is already mid-manoeuvre in the other direction …”

Carly Marie says: “It’s a shame so many decide to do their overtaking on the bends on these roads though – I’ve seen many near misses because people are overtaking on the other side in the opposite direction at the same time.

“If you can’t see a clear road ahead then why risk your life and those of others just to save a few seconds?”

William Southgate says: “I would have thought these wide roads were a good idea. It allows for future development of the road system although at the moment they aren’t required.

“East Hoathly should be ok as there’s enough visibility for sensible drivers to overtake safely. Most of our Sussex roads are too narrow – a problem made worse by hedges growing right up to and beyond the edge of the tarmac, reducing road width drastically.

“I drive 44 tonne artics, and on some main roads, we are forced to slow down or almost stop to pass each other safely.

“Trucks often suffer broken mirrors as a result of overhanging trees and they can vary in price to replace!

“Our truck mirror glasses cost on average about £50 to replace although some coach mirrors cost several hundred pounds, so trees are a menace if they overhang the roads.

“Pedestrian safety is badly affected on roads where there are no verges. Some roads are too dangerous for those unfortunate enough to have to walk on them and they are at great risk, especially after dark.

“Few pedestrians have hi viz clothing to wear at night when walking on the roads and you can suddenly find some poor soul desperately trying to duck into roadside bushes to escape becoming a statistic. Wide roads, regardless of the reasons they are there are fine by me!”

Richard Cosstick says: “The whole of the A22 from the Boship Roundabout up as far as Golden Cross used to be three lanes. It worked well in days gone by but now it would be a death trap.

“Increased speeds and more cars, it would no longer work.

“I think there was a plan for a by-pass to go from Golden Cross to Halland many years ago. Mr Jones, who owned Park Corner Petrol Station, as it was then, applied for a site on the new road – forward thinking back in 1938/9. World War 2 put a stop to it all going ahead.

“You can still see on the Heathfield Road from Boship Roundabout how the new road was planned to be laid out in that direction.”

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