M62: The Trans-Pennine Motorway

“[T]he motorway [for Auge] is seen as an archetypal non-place. Yet rather than 'being in the middle of nowhere', the geographies of the motorway landscape is complex and heterogeneous.” Merriman (2004)

Carving out the Trans-Pennine M62 was, at the time of its construction, one of the most difficult and ambitious road-construction projects ever attempted. As motorists travel across the Pennines within a matter of several minutes, the strangeness of the M62 is easy to dismiss. Travelers can detach themselves from the landscape that they pass through, and the irreversible impact that the motorway has had on the environment becomes unnoticeable. The efforts of the thousands of construction workers who laboured, often in appalling conditions, to construct a road that facilitates the travel of tens of thousands of people each and every day disappears in the blink of a driver’s eye.

John Davies, Vicar and author of Walking the M62 spoke “of a sense of awe he experienced, standing on a hillside above the M62, ‘watching the traffic steadily flowing across the high Pennines like a metallic ribbon glittering in the sunshine’. There was he acknowledged, a dimension of wonder in the ritualistic process of motorway driving. Post-Ballardian sensory enhancement, deep reverie. He spoke of the Gospels as a kind of divinely inspired Highway Code. He found my attitude towards this liminal territory, as expressed in London Orbital, more critical than his own: he was undergoing, in his foot-foundered exhaustion, an epiphany. The road was a metaphor, the prompt for an unwritten sermon. ‘Above Asda only sky.’” (Sinclair, 2011)

Part of an on-going body of work, Kevin Crooks is documenting the M62 and the historical, geographical, geological, social and economic effects and changes that the motorway has brought to the areas of the north of England that it connects.

Kevin Crooks 


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