A421 road

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A421 shield

Major junctions
East end A1 Black Cat Roundabout near St Neots
  A1 A1 road
A428 A428 road
A6 A6 road
[ M 1  ] M1 motorway
A5130 A5130 road
A5 A5 road
A413 A413 road
A4421 A4421 road
A43 A43 road
West end A43 near Brackley
Milton Keynes
Road network

The A421 is an important road for east/west journeys across south central England. Together with the A428, the A43 and A34, it forms the route from Cambridge through Milton Keynes to Oxford. The section between the A1 near St Neots and the A5 in Milton Keynes is a national primary route.


The road begins at the A1, just south of St Neots (and the junction with the A428 from Cambridge), at the Black Cat Roundabout. The road bypasses both Great Barford[1] and Bedford to the south to reach the M1 at junction 13. From there, it swings up through the southern part of Milton Keynes, doubling as the local grid road H8 Standing Way. During this time it crosses the A5 (and connects to it via a short spur which is part of the V6 Grafton Street).

Continuing westwards as the route approaches Buckingham the road passes close by to the 14th century Thornborough Bridge, the only surviving mediaeval bridge in Buckinghamshire which was bypassed by the new bridge in 1974. Close to here, it then forms the Buckingham by-pass before joining the A43 (NorthamptonM40 junction 10) near Brackley. (On crossing the A43, the route due westward becomes the B4031 through Croughton, Aynho and Deddington to join the A361 to Chipping Norton).

The section from the A1 to the M1 is dual carriageway and fully grade-separated, with the section between Bedford and the M1 completed in December 2010,[2] winning the British Construction Industry Award in 2011.[3]

There is a short section of single carriageway from the new flyover (beside Junction 13) to the south-eastern outskirts of Milton Keynes, where dual carriageway running resumes and continues as far as the southwestern outskirts. From here to the A43, the route is single carriageway, with the exception of the bypass around Tingewick.

Proposed developments[edit]

M1 Junction 13 to Milton Keynes[edit]

Proposed A421 Improvements
A421 M1 Junction 13 to Milton Keynes widening scheme.png
The route of the proposed A421 widening scheme, between the M1 Junction 13 and Milton Keynes.
Location Central Bedfordshire, Milton Keynes
Proposer Bedfordshire County Council
Status Partially complete
Type Road
Cost estimate £34.5 million
Start date 2014 (phase 1)
Supporters Milton Keynes Council, SEMLEP

In conjunction with the M1 widening schemes and the widening of the A421 between M1 Junction 13 and Bedford that is already finished, proposals have been put forward to also widen the A421 between the M1 junction 13 Bedfordshire and the Kingston roundabout in Milton Keynes.[4] Exhibitions were held in June 2005 which rejected proposals to re-route the road in favour of widening the current road. The scheme was given in 2005 an estimated total cost of £33 million.[5] In 2014, funding of GB£23.5 million was announced by the government for the dualling work as part of the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership Local Growth Deal.[6] As of October 2017, work has yet to begin on site.

As part of the government's pinch point reduction programme, in 2014 work commenced on the A421 in Milton Keynes to improve the Kingston roundabout.[7]

Oxford to Cambridge Expressway[edit]

In the "Road investment strategy" announced to Parliament by the Department for Transport and Secretary of State for Transport on 1 December 2014, planning will begin to dual the A428 from the A1 to Caxton Gibbet.[8] The announcement said that the A1/A421 Black Cat Roundabout would be replaced with a grade-separated junction,[8] just a few years after this roundabout was expensively upgraded. The link would provide an uninterrupted dual carriageway route between the M1 and Cambridge, part of a longer-term proposal to establish an "Oxford to Cambridge Expressway" to Oxford, via (or near) Milton Keynes.[8]

Notable events[edit]

Five seconds of fame[edit]

The A421 Tingewick bypass, near Bicester has a minor claim to fame as the location of the then fastest speeding incident ever recorded[9] by British police, in March 2003. Andrew Osborne, 31, of Leamington Spa, was filmed by a mobile speed camera while travelling at 157 miles per hour (253 km/h) on a motorcycle. His friend Neil Bolger, 30, of Gaydon, was clocked at 148 miles per hour (238 km/h). Both were convicted of dangerous driving, imprisoned for 28 days and banned from driving for two years (with a compulsory re-test).

Blind driver[edit]

Blind Martine Brooks drove along the newly constructed A421 Great Barford Bypass (From the A1 Black Cat Roundabout to Bedford) and back to raise money for charity.[10] The drive took place two days before the official road opening, and she was accompanied by Frank Branston (Mayor of Bedford), Steve Clarke (Teacher and Navigator), and Denise Hubbard (Driving Instructor and Car Owner).

She reached a speed of 65 miles per hour (105 km/h) before doing a flawless three point turn, and returning to the A1.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ The Great Barford bypass opened on 24 August 2006.
  2. ^ "A421 Bedford to M1 Junction 13". www.highways.gov.uk. 2011. Archived from the original on 15 December 2013. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  3. ^ "Winners 2011". www.bciawards.org.uk. 2011. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  4. ^ "A421 Miton Keynes to M1" (PDF). South East England Regional Assembly. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-07-02. Retrieved 2009-07-22. 
  5. ^ "Bedfordshire Local Transport Plan 2006/07 - 2010/11 - Major projects". Bedfordshire County Council. Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  6. ^ "£23.5million project unveiled to upgrade A421 to dual carriageway". Milton Keynes Citizen. 7 July 2014. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  7. ^ "Construction work begins to dual A421 in Milton Keynes". MK Web. 18 February 2014. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  8. ^ a b c "The east of England gets a £1.5 billion investment in its roads as part of the new 'Road investment strategy'. 1 December 2014". 
  9. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 October 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-21.  Thames Valley Police Annual Report 2003/04
  10. ^ "A421 Great Barford Bypass Third Newsletter - August 2006" (PDF). Highways Agency. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 2008-12-29. 

Coordinates: 52°00′36″N 0°45′17″W / 52.00993°N 0.7548°W / 52.00993; -0.7548