M56 motorway

The M56 is a motorway, also known as the North Cheshire motorway, in Cheshire and Greater Manchester, England. It runs from Junction 4 of the M60 to Dunkirk, Cheshire and is 35 miles (56 km) in length. The motorway is often busy with long-distance commuter traffic towards North Wales as well as providing access to Manchester Airport from the national motorway network.

The road forms part of the unsigned Euroroute E22.


Although the mainline of the motorway starts as a continuation of the A5103 Princess Parkway, the M56 actually begins on the Sharston Spur. After passing through junctions 1 and 2, the spur joins the mainline at junction 3, going up from two lanes to four, to accommodate Manchester Airport traffic.

The road now heads south to the west of Wythenshawe and Manchester Airport until it reaches junction 6, where it turns west. It then runs to the south of Hale, going down to three lanes. It passes junctions 7 and 8 which are part of the same complex. Junction 8 was planned to be used by the proposed A556(M)). The current proposals are to upgrade the A556 to a dual carrigeway. Traffic for the southbound M6 leaves here and this junction can suffer from congestion. The motorway then enters a more rural setting, continuing between Broomedge and High Legh.

After meeting the M6 motorway it passes south of Appleton Thorn. After reaching junction 11, it runs through the outskirts of Runcorn and Frodsham. Between junctions 12 and 14, and the missing junction 13, it runs parallel to the River Mersey and Manchester Ship Canal. After meeting the M53 motorway, the road finally returns to two lanes, it proceeds between Chester to the south and Ellesmere Port to its termination at a roundabout at Dunkirk, Cheshire.

Traffic for North Wales can take either the M53 or A5117 to reach the A55.

In 2006, work began to bypass the roundabout at Dunkirk The new dual carriage will allow all North Wales-bound traffic to flow continually onto the A5117.


The first proposal for a road along this route was agreed in 1958 and it entered the Trunk Road Programme for 1967/1968. Construction began in 1968 and the motorway opened in stages between 1971 and 1981:

  • Junctions 1 to 3 opened in 1975.
  • Junctions 3 to 7 opened in 1972.
  • Junctions 7 to 9 opened in 1974.
  • Junctions 9 to 11 opened in 1975.
  • Junctions 11 to 14 opened in 1971.
  • Junctions 14 to 16 opened in 1981.

Proposals did exist for an extension into North Wales across the proposed Dee Barrage , but these have not happened.


M55 Motorway
Eastbound exits Junction Westbound exits
Stockport M60
Leeds (M62)
M60, J4 Start of motorway
(Sharston Spur)
Didsbury A34 J1 No access
No access J2 Wythenshawe, Altrincham A560 (M60)
Altrincham, Wythenshawe, Wythenshawe Hospital, Cheadle A560 J3a Start of motorway
(Princess Parkway spur)
Altrincham, Congleton, Wythenshawe A5103
Manchester Ring Road (M60)
J3 No access
No access J4 Wythenshawe
Manchester Airport J5 Manchester Airport
Hale, Wilmslow, Macclesfield A538 J6 Wilmslow, Hale, Macclesfield A538
Altrincham A56 J7 Northwich A556
Lymm A56
Birmingham (M6)
Preston, Birmingham, Leeds (M62) M6 J9 Preston, Liverpool (M62) M6
Warrington, Northwich A49 J10 Northwich, Warrington A49
Runcorn (E), Warrington A56 J11 Preston Brook, Daresbury A56
Runcorn, Widnes, Northwich A557 J12 Frodsham, Runcorn, Widnes A557
Stanlow Refinery, Helsby A5117 J14
Chester services
Stanlow Refinery, Helsby A5117
No access J15 Ellesmere Port, Birkenhead, Chester, Wrexham M53
Start of Motorway J16 North Wales, Queensferry A5117
North Wales, Queensferry A5117 Road continues as A5117 towards North Wales

M56 Corridor

The M56 Corridor is a term used by estate agents and social geographers to describe what is considered to be a relatively affluent area of north west England, within easy reach of the M56. The area includes the cities of Manchester and Chester, together with commuter towns and villages in rural Cheshire. It also includes Warrington and St Helens where the chemical and pharmaceutical industries are prominent.

See also


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