The M40 was constructed in stages with the first section being the High Wycombe Bypass from Handycross to Stokenchurch (Junctions 4-5) opening in 1967. In 1969 a temporary junction (Junction 2*) was built at Holtspur just outside of Beaconsfield that carried the motorway to the first section at Handycross (Junction 4). The Beaconsfield bypass (Junction 2) which was part of the motorway was built in 1971 and the Gerrards Cross Bypass (Junctions 1-2) connecting to this was completed in 1973. Junctions 5-8 Pitmore to Chilworth just outside of Oxford were completed in 1974. Construction from Birmingham to Oxford (the "missing link") started in 1988 from the M42 near Hockley Heath (Junction 3A) and finishing with construction through Warwickshire and the Cherwell Valley in 1990 linking Junction 3A to Junction 8. The motorway opened for its full length of 89 miles in 1990. The M40 was to be the last major motorway construction in the UK; however, during the final stages of construction the Conservative government of the time announced a major new road building scheme.
When the motorway was first fully opened it carried a surprisingly low volume of traffic (compared, for instance, to the M25, which was congested from the start). The reason was said to be the lack of motorway service areas, which kept HGV traffic in particular from using the route, the M1 and M6, or A34, being existing routes to Birmingham. The first service station opened at Cherwell Valley in 1994, and two further service stations opened at Oxford and Warwick in 1998. As a result, traffic is now much heavier.
The section of the M42 between junctions 3A and the M5 was going to be renumbered as part of the M40 when it was extended to Birmingham, and the junction was built with priority going to the now eastbound section of the M42 and the M40 towards London. However when the junction was opened, no renumbering took place.
The motorway then carries on for another half a mile before it reaches junction 1A, the free-flow interchange with the M25 London Orbital. It is a partially unrolled cloverleaf, with the smoothest turns allocated to the flow of traffic from the Londonbound M40, (traffic from Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and the wider West Midlands), to the anti-clockwise M25 (London Heathrow, Gatwick, The Channel Ports), and vice versa, since this was perceived to be (and is) the largest exchange of traffic between the two motorways. The M40 passes over the interchange, with the M25 on the bottom. The clockwise M25 enters the junction with 4 lanes and there is a lane drop to accommodate the traffic heading for the M40 westbound, and leaves the junction with 3 lanes. In contrast, the anti-clockwise M25 enters the junction with 3 lanes, and gains a lane from the Londonbound M40 to accommodate the extra traffic. The Londonbound M40 enters with 4 lanes, with a lane drop for the M25 exit, and leaves with 3 lanes, and the westbound M40 enters with lanes and gains a lane from the anti-clockwise M25.
After junction 1A, the motorway is 4 lane, and carries on for another 3 miles until it reaches junction 2 for the A355 to Slough, and the A40 to Beaconsfield and Gerrard's Cross. Junction 2 is the standard roundabout interchange, with the mainline of the M40 running underneath. Approaching the junction, motorists are informed by way of gantry signs.
Junction 3 is another 3 miles further on, and serves the A40 for High Wycombe East and Loudwater. This is a restricted junction, being the only flow of traffic at this junction is from the westbound M40 to the A40, and from the A40 to the Londonbound M40. The westbound carriageway loses a lane here, remaining 3 lane for the rest of the route, and the Londonbound carriageway gains a lane. The now 3 lane motorway then immediately crosses the valley (and Loudwater) over a large ramp like bridge.
Junction 4 is the interchange with the A404 - A404 north for High Wycombe and A404 south for Marlow, Maidenhead, Reading, Windsor and the M4. The motorway through the junction was never widened from the original two lane when the rest of the motorway from junction 8 to London was, and so both carriageways experience a temporary lane drop. The junction used to be a straightforward roundabout interchange with exits for the M40 (west and east), High Wycombe (A404), the A4010, two local roads and the A404 dual carriageway to the south. However during 2007, work was completed to improve the junction which included extra stacking space on the sliproads from the M40, provision for traffic from the A404 northbound to join the M40 westbound slip road without joining the roundabout and provision for the Londonbound M40 to skip the section of the roundabout which serves the A4010, High Wycombe and the A404 north.
Junction 5 is for the A40 and Stokenchurch. Junction 5 is the basic diamond interchange, and is also the fourth junction the M40 has had with the A40. 1 mile further on, the motorway passes through a large cutting, enters Oxfordshire and reaches junction 6 with the B4009 for Lewknor Watlington, and Chinnor. The junction is a variant on the diamond interchange, with the slip roads from the M40 south having sharp bends - upon leaving the M40 from the westbound carriageway there is an immediate turn of almost 90o to the left and shortly after a sharp 90o turn to the right before a junction with the B4009, and similarly when entering the Londonbound M40.
After 3 miles the motorway meets the first of three junctions in close succession. Junction 7 is a restricted junction with the A329 serving Thame and the A40. Access is limited only allowing exit for northbound traffic, and entry for southbound. The exiting slip road on the southbound M40 at J7 is for "Works Traffic Only" to a depot. A slip road exists to allow traffic from the A329 to join the M40 north but is closed to traffic by a gate: this traffic must therefore follow the A40 to Junction 8, two miles to the North.
The motorway then heads north on the new extension section of the M40, reaching Junction 8A less than a mile after J8. This junction is for the A418 east to Thame and Aylesbury, as well as the single carriageway A40 south to London. It also serves Wheatley via the A418(A40) via the dumbbell junction with the M40 spur. The junction allows traffic from the southbound M40 to enter Oxford via the A40 dual-carriageway, and traffic from the A40 from Oxford to enter the northbound M40 via the linking road. The Oxford Services are also located on J8A, making the motorway accessible from the M40, A40 (Oxford), A418, A40 (London) and the A329. Leaving J8A, the M40 North has a sharp northerly turn, and prior to the extension of the motorway opening, local police patrol cars were used to check the turn could be safely navigated at and above the national speed limit, such was the abrupt change of direction.
The M40 follows a course of almost due north for 5 miles before reaching Junction 10, which serves the village of Ardley, the A43 and the Cherwell Valley services. The A43 terminates at J10, although originally it carried on to Kidlington, the southern part of the old route now used by the re-routed A34. The A43 serves Brackley, Silverstone and its racing circuit, currently home to the British Grand Prix. Further on, the A43 leads to Northampton and the M1. Junction 10 was originally a dumbbell junction. The capacity of both the junction and the single carriageway A43 proved too small when the road was used as a freight thoroughfare from the mainly congested M1 to the emptier M40 to London, and the A34 at J9 to the south coast - in fact the 5 mile stretch between these junctions is the busiest on the motorway in both directions. When the A43 (between the M1 and M40) was upgraded to dual carriageway, the junction was redesigned and rebuilt by the Highways Agency to cope with the extra traffic. A third roundabout was added to the junction, to the north, with the slips for the Londonbound M40 and the A43, with the slip roads for the northbound M40 remodelled as well, and the roundabout in the middle now serving the services. The slip road for the Londonbound carriageway which used to be accessed from the roundabout now is only reached via the services. The design and execution of the revised design of new junction is greatly derided, mostly because of the three roundabouts giving no priority to the main flow of traffic, (A43 - M40 London), and the slip roads off and onto the motorway (except the one accessed via the services) have sharp turns and adverse cambers, which results lorries frequently tipping over and spilling their loads especially on the roundabout at the end of the northern carriageway. The junction fails to perform its function as an effective traffic junction. As well as that, the slip roads onto the motorway give little manoeuvring space as both join the motorway under (the same) bridge built for the old junction.
The motorway then follows a winding route north for 10 miles until Junction 11, the A422 and A361, serving Banbury. The motorway does not follow the straight route to the east of Middleton Cheney, meeting with the A422, as once planned, due to a major landowner refusing his land to be cut in half. If built as planned, J11 would be east of Middleton Cheney, meeting with the A422, and probably would have fuelled major growth in the village as well as Banbury, the primary destination of the junction. As it is, the junction was built one and a half miles west along the A422, with the motorway skirting Banbury. The junction itself is a regular roundabout interchange, and has the single carriageway A361 from Daventry the dual-carriageway A422 from Brackley and the A43 from the west, and the dual-carriageway A422 (A361) toward Banbury feeding to/from it.
Another 12 miles north-west along the motorway is Junction 12, serving Gaydon and the Heritage Motor Centre via the B4451. The junction is a box-standard Diamond Interchange. Further along the motorway is Warwick Services, the last on the motorway, before it reaches the restricted access Junction 13. This serves Leamington Spa and Warwick via the A452, and Gaydon via the B4100. The junction is a half Diamond Interchange, with only access from the northbound carriageway and access to the southbound M40.
The junction is 'completed' 2 miles further on at Junction 14, another restricted access junction, with access to the A452 from the southbound M40, and the access on to the motorway is in a northbound direction. The slip roads join at a roundabout and carry on as the single carriageway A452 to meet with the A452 to Leamington Spa, A425 to Warwick, and the A452 to J13.
Further north, Henley-in-Arden (J16) is again 'incomplete' to discourage local traffic.
The motorway joins the M42 in both directions, with northbound traffic taking the left lane to exit eastbound, eventually forming the outer lanes of the M42 via a tight-bending two lane connecting road, and the right lanes being taken eastbound. Similarly, southbound, eastbound traffic from the M42 splits off from the outer two lanes, whereas westbound traffic of the M42 has a single lane, widening to a two lane slip road which merges with the middle lane and forms the outer lane of the southbound M40.
At the design stage, a service area was originally planned for High Wycombe, between Junctions 3 and 4, and the road has the beginnings of slip roads on both carriageways at this point (see here)even though the plans never reached fruition.
Located off the motorway at Junction 8A but also accessible from Junction 8 and the A418. The services are operated by Welcome Break, however the operator realised that they could get around the strict advertising laws if they were to make their logo on the road signs on the motorway read 'Welcome Break KFC', which is now what they are now technically known as (although they still trade as and within the site are signed as 'Welcome Break').
They are located off Junction 10, where the A43 meets the motorway and are quite difficult to access due to the poor layout of the junction. It is also the first motorway service area for travellers coming from Junction 9 and the south coast on the A34. The services are operated by Moto, although it is signed as Costa M&S throughout the site for the same reasons as Welcome Break did at Oxford.
They are located between Junctions 12 and 13, and are made up of two sites mirroring each other. The two are not connected. The services are operated by Welcome Break, despite being signed as 'Welcome Break KFC' (again, see Oxford services above). The northbound services featured in an episode of Top Gear, and until recently they had to be signed as 'Welcome Break Coffee Primo' as they only recently gained a KFC outlet. The southbound services were one of the first to gain a KFC facility.
|Eastbound exits||Junction||Westbound exits|
|Road continues as A40 to London|| J1 |
| Slough A412 |
Non motorway traffic
| Slough A412 |
|Start of Motorway|
|Watford, Stansted Airport, Heathrow Airport Gatwick Airport M25||J1a||Watford, Stansted Airport, Heathrow Airport, Gatwick Airport M25|
|Beaconsfield, Amersham, Slough A355||J2||Beaconsfield, Amersham, Slough A355|
|No access||J3||Loudwater and High Wycombe (East) A40|
|High Wycombe, Marlow, Maidenhead A404||J4||High Wycombe, Marlow A404|
|High Wycombe (West), Stokenchurch A40||J5||Stokenchurch A40|
|Watlington, Princes Risborough B4009||J6||Thame, Watlington, Princes Risborough B4009|
|No access||J7||Thame, Wallingford, A329|
|No access||J8||Oxford, Cheltenham A40|
| Thame, Aylesbury A418 |
| Thame, Aylesbury A418|
| Bicester, Aylesbury A41 |
Oxford, Newbury A34
|J9|| Bicester A41 |
Oxford, Newbury A34
| Northampton A43 |
Cherwell Valley services
| Northampton A43 |
| Banbury A422 |
|J11|| Banbury A422 |
Chipping Norton A361
|Gaydon B4451||J12||Gaydon B4451|
|No access||J13|| Leamington, Warwick A452 |
|Leamington A452||J14||No access|
| Warwick A429 |
Stratford, Coventry A46 (M69)
|J15|| Warwick A429 |
Stratford, Coventry A46 (M69)
|Henley A3400||J16||No access|
|Start of Motorway||THE NORTH, Birmingham (North & East), Solihull, NEC, Birmingham International Airport M42|| M42, J3a|
|Start of motorway||Road continues as M42 to The SOUTH WEST, Birmingham (South & West), Redditch & M5|
An inquest the following summer recorded a verdict of accidental death on all of the victims. It was reported that none of the children in the minibus were wearing seatbelts, and the side-facing benches seating layout was also criticised as dangerous. This led to seatbelts becoming compulsory equipment on all coaches and minibuses (more than 20 years after they had been compulsory on cars), and only recently (more than a decade on) becoming law for them to be worn.
Jimmy Davis, a 21-year-old Watford footballer on loan from Manchester United, was killed on a stretch of the M40 in Oxfordshire in the early hours of 9 August 2003 when his BMW collided with a lorry. The lorry driver escaped with minor injuries, and the inquest revealed that Davis was in excess of the drink-drive limit and had been driving at speeds of up to 120mph.
Medical advertising laws & regulations: disclaimers will not cure the inherently misleading nature of off-label promotion. (Guest Editorial).
Nov 26, 2002; Oct. 28, 2002; Docket No. 02N-0209 Comments of Sidney M. Wolfe, MD Larry D. Sasich, Pharm. D., MPH Public Citizen Health Research...