Towns & Cities of the Great North Road

These are the major towns and cities which are linked by the Great North Road, or its precursors which formed the route north from London.

london-generalpostoffice-pollard-1830

London

Capital city and focal point of the country’s road network since Roman times. The east coast route north towards York, Newcastle and Edinburgh has been of primary strategic and commercial importance over the centuries. The Great North Road coaching route emerged during the 17th century…..

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stevenage high street

Stevenage

First stop for the stage coaches heading north from London – the wide High Street retains a high density of pubs and restaurants. The Great North Road ran through the High Street until the town was bypassed by the A1(M) in 1962…..

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Baldock

Baldock

The current town was established sometime between 1138 and 1148 by the Knights Templar who were given an area carved out of the manor of Weston. They laid out the four main streets with a wider area in two of them to act as a market place…..

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biggleswade bridge 1905

Biggleswade

Biggleswade is located near the crossing point of the River Ivel. It was always a troublesome stretch of the Great North Road in wetter weather when the mud became notorious. In the 18th century the town’s importance grew with the development of turnpikes…..

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St Neots - 1908 painting

St Neots

St Neots and its immediate neighbour Eynesbury sit on the east bank of the Great Ouse which at this point flows northwards before heading east at Huntingdon. Nearby Eaton Socon was a Saxon village and is recorded in Domesday. Both Samuel Pepys and Charles Dickens visited…..

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huntingdon bridge

Huntingdon

On the north bank of the River Great Ouse, Huntingdon can trace its roots to an Anglo-Saxon settlement, used as a staging post for Danish raids beyond East Anglia. There is evidence of a market and a mint since at least the reign of Eadwig (955-959) testifying to…..

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peterborough cathedral

Peterborough

It’s not on the Great North Road you may say. Well in coaching days that’s true for the route kept to dryer ground to the west between Norman Cross and Stamford. However, the Roman precursor to Peterborough (Durobrivae) lies just by the Great North Road…..

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stamford - burghley house

Stamford

Ermine Street crossed the River Welland on the site of the current town, heading to the Roman town at Great Casterton slightly to the north. Stamford prospered during the medieval period and as the post road developed so did the town’s…..

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Grantham

Grantham’s fortunes have been closely linked to those of the Great North Road. Enjoying a boom as a coaching stop then retreating into relative obscurity as the railways and bypasses have sped traffic on its way to the cities north and south…..

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Newark-1816

Newark

In Roman times the primary road from London to York was via Lincoln and a ferry crossing of the Humber. The first bridge over the river at Newark came in the 12th century – encouraging the more direct route north…..

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doncaster - great north road - 1905

Doncaster

The Antonine Itinerary lists three stations between the coloniae of Lincoln and York: Castleford (Lagecio), Doncaster (Dano) and Littleborough (Lindo). So even though the primary Ermine Street route from Lincoln to York was by ferry across the Humber Estuary…..

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Ouse Bridge - 1784

York

The first recorded stage coach service from London to York was in 1658. York was then the “terminus” of the Great North Road. Later York was often by-passed by those coaches seeking the most direct route from Doncaster to Northallerton and beyond…..

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darlington - skerne bridge - st cuthberts

Darlington

The demise of The Great North Road’s coaching trade was the direct result of the transport revolution brought about by the steam train. The first public railway was opened in September 1825 between Darlington and Stockton. The original station…..

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Durham - Cigarette Card - c1915

Durham

Travelling from the south one traditionally entered Durham from the east crossing the Wear over the Elvet Bridge. Once through the medieval centre you would exit across the Framwelgate Bridge then swing north towards Newcastle. An alternative route…..

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newcastle - turner - 1823

Newcastle

The Great North Road from the south approached Newcastle via its less glamorous neighbour, Gateshead. Things have improved for Gateshead in recent years but it has attracted unfavourable comment over the centuries. Charles Harper in 1901: “Gateshead is…..

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Berwick - 1832

Berwick

Berwick lies on the north bank of the River Tweed as it enters the North Sea. As the national boundary was redrawn Berwick alternated between Scotland and England. It has ended up England’s most northerly town – but is just 56 miles from….

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Edinburgh

392 miles from London we reach another capital city. With close ties to England for over 2000 years, its sea, road and rail links have played an important part in Edinburgh’s rise as a political and commercial centre for Scotland. A ‘journey coach’ to…..

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