Spaghetti Junction at 50 - a look back at Birmingham’s world famous Gravelly Hill Interchange

It’s one of Birmingham’s best known landmarks - and with 220,000 vehicles using it every day, this world-famous road network is also the busiest traffic interchange in Europe.

This May 24 marks 50 years since Spaghetti Junction first opened, and looking ahead to that anniversary West Midlands Mayor Andy Street notes the impact of the huge development on the West Midlands.

He says: ”So it’s a happy birthday to Spaghetti Junction! You know what? 50 years ago when it was being built, my granddad used to take me on a Sunday afternoon to look at the building. It was maybe a premonition in that there. And it was exciting!

“It was sort of, modern and futuristic. And it’s provided a brilliant service for 50 years. It has to be maintained hard now, you know? Lots of work going on, strengthening the concrete - but I reckon it’ll be there providing a critical service for the next 50 years.”

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street talks about Spaghetti Junction

Britain’s busiest road junction is also its most famous.

But what about that name? Well, the drone view in our video, gives you a clue.

Roy smith - a local journalist - likened the development to a plate of spaghetti - and you can see why. The name stuck with Brummies and now it’s used all the time..

While it’s likely this colloquial term won’t be going anywhere soon, the official name for the junction is Gravelly Hill Interchange.

Road tax is set to increase in the UK (Shutterstock)

How long did it take to build Spaghetti Junction?

Construction began in 1968 and took four years to complete.

The construction cost £10 million at the time, approximately £108 million in today’s money, using 13,000 tonnes of steel reinforcement and 175,000 cubic yards of concrete, split across five different layers.

The junction has appeared in the Guinness Book of World Records as “the most complex interchange on the British road system”.

The Junction was designed to last 120 years, and has seen routine repairs to the reinforced concrete structures since the late 1980s. The first motorists to use Spaghetti Junction did so on the 24th May 1972 at approximately 4:30pm, and has since carried billions of vehicles.

Thirteen kilometres of motorway on around 550 columns including a railway line and a canal. A masterpiece of design the likes of which had never been seen before.

Back then eight pence for a litre of petrol - well prices have change as times have changed but the junction remains still doing its job 50 years on

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