The Railway Age of the mid-19th century brought about the most dramatic changes to Hereford to that date. Houses and buildings were demolished, and roads altered, to make way for the many train lines that serviced the City of Hereford from Barton Station and Barrs Court Station. Commerce and industry brought about from the railways fuelled the growth of Hereford City. The construction of the inner city relief road of the 1960s was perhaps equally significant in the shift it created to Hereford’s cityscape.
Congestion was the main instigator for the development of an inner city relief road. Growing population, the increase of motor vehicles and the establishment of new industries in Hereford, coupled with the road pattern at the medieval core of Hereford, all contributed to the problem. By 1964 the Ministry of Transport, the responsible highway authority, was pushing for a new bridge and trunk road situated close to the city centre to alleviate the congestion. Once it became clear that the Minister of Transport, Earnest Marples MP, would not entertain the idea of a bypass, Hereford County Council and Hereford City Council were resigned to accepting the proposals (and funding) from the Ministry of Transport.
The building of the inner city relief road was broken down into two stages: construction of Greyfriars Bridge and approach roads; and the erection of the north-south and east-west relief roads. The former started in 1964, at a contract price of £608, 000, and involved the compulsory purchase and destruction of a terrace of houses in St. Martin’s Street, Nos 17-23 St. Nicholas Street, the Barton Tavern, and the terminal building of the Abergavenny to Hereford tramroad. Some of these demolished properties are captured in photographs CL50/4/1/1-3. The bridge was finished in the winter of 1966.
The second stage of the inner city relief road was responsible for vast changes in Hereford City centre. Construction of the new east-west relief road involved extensive demolition of buildings and site clearance works, required to maintain access and alleviate congestion. Work began on the eastern end of Bath Street in March 1964, much of it focusing on the reburial of remains from the old burial ground of St. Owen’s Church. In the spring of 1966 demolition commenced on a number of buildings in Blueschool Street; including the Vine and the farriery of Wm. Watts and Sons (photographs of these buildings can be seen at CL50/4/1/4-11). By late 1967 a third contract paid for the destruction of a few buildings on Commercial Square, once situated between Commercial Street and Commercial Road. The final extent of these road works was completed by April 1968.
Construction work between Victoria Street and Edgar Street brought about the most substantial phase of the inner city relief road. Compulsory purchase orders and interest plans (CL50/4/2) were prepared for the flattening of the southern ends of Edgar Street and Wall Street, along with shops along Eign Street. On the west of the route notable victims included: the Victoria Vaults public house, South Shropshire Farmers, Jesson’s Army and Navy Stores, and Benry Motors.
By late 1969 the trunk road and inner city relief roads were both completed and open to the public. The five year project had a total expenditure of £2m, including construction, land purchase and compensation.
Foxton, D. Hereford Then and Now Volume 2. (1991) Derek Foxton
Roberts, G. The Shaping of Modern Hereford. (2001) Longtown Press
Quantity and format: 181 plans; and 11 black and white photographs (print)