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Louth Museum

Ruth's Blog

Traffic through Louth

by Ruth Gatenby

Accident in Chequergate.  Credit Pete Connor.

Accident in Chequergate.  Credit Pete Connor.

The new bypass.  Credit Harold Jackson.

The new bypass. Credit Harold Jackson.

A lorry crashed into an office building on the junction of Chequergate and Bridge Street in October 1986.  It’s a dramatic sight, but thankfully no-one was injured – the accident occurred at 8.30 in the morning when the estate agents’ offices were unoccupied.  The lorry was carrying agrochemicals, which spilled on impact, so a major clearing up procedure was needed.

Over the centuries, the town of Louth had developed at the point where east-west routes crossed the ancient north-south trackway known as Barton Street.  Mechanised transport developed in the twentieth century, lorries seemed to get bigger each year, and Louth’s medieval road layout just couldn’t cope.  For many people, there was no practical alternative to driving through the centre of the town, and congestion was the result.  It was particularly bad when holidaymakers were going to the seaside. 

One possible solution would have been to widen the roads, but that would have meant demolishing listed buildings and other heritage assets.  As long ago as 1946, the construction of a Louth bypass had been proposed in post-war planning documents.  Finally, it was designed and built.

The second photo shows the brand-new bypass in August 1991, when members of the public were invited to walk along it, before the opening ceremony.  Trees and shrubs were planted beside the road, and now the bypass has a flourishing green border.