As long ago as 1951 the possible construction of a by-pass round Newark was being examined, and in that year it was included in the Notts. County Development Plan. In 1957 the Minister of Transport announced that the improvement to the Great North Road between London and Newcastle would be undertaken as part of a programme to provide a modern basic national road net-work. This decision had far reaching consequences for the inhabitants of Winthorpe, for just as finally as Mr. Marples, golden scissors symbolically opened the by-pass seven years later, and its eventual routing to the East of Newark caused the village road from the town to be closed.
Work on construction of the by-pass began on the 16th July 1962, and it was eventually opened by the Minster of Transport, The Rt. Hon. Ernest Marples, M.P., on the 27th July 1964, almost exactly two years later. The total length of the by-pass is stated to be 6½ miles, and 16 bridges had to be constructed. By far the most important of these was the Winthorpe Bridge over the River Trent, and this was built under a separate contract by Christiani & Nielson Ltd. The design is a graceful three-span structure in continuous pre-stressed concrete, some 520 ft. in length and 82 ft. wide. Many villagers recall with pleasure some of the people who lived here in our midst for several months while the bridge was being surveyed and then built, and most of us remember the banshee wail of the pile driver at work in the night.
The B1186 Gainsborough Road was eventually closed to traffic in October 1963 and the large earth moving vehicles began to draw aggregate and soil across the Winthorpe road. There were naturally advantages and disadvantages to the village resulting from this closure. What had formerly been a 3½ mile journey to Newark became a 4½ mile detour along the Fosse Way and return through the backdoor, as it were, down the Gainsborough road. Although the scenery along the Winthorpe road was not particularly picturesque, as one drove home the eventual rise up the tree-lined road into Winthorpe itself somehow lifted one's spirits, and it was good to be home at the end of a day. On the other hand, there is no denying that the village became a good deal quieter without the heavy traffic from Scunthorpe, which now thundered past instead of through the village, and it was a good deal safer, too. There were also mixed feelings about the additional mile from town. Bus fares and petrol bills went up, and it became particularly irksome for those who lived at the by-pass end of the village to have to go all that way round. Bus services, of course, had to be rearranged, and the Minutes of the Parish Council during 1962 and 63 record with praiseworthy phlegm the many heated discussions in the Council and Parish Meetings on the villagers' reactions to both the impending and the actual arrival of the by-pass.
Because the line of the by-pass bisected Mr. Leach' farmland, the authorities had had to provide an access from one side to the other, and this took the form of an underpass to permit the transit of people, farm machinery and livestock. It was in the nature of a private road protected by gateways and off-set approach roads from the former Winthorpe road. Many villagers felt that this underpass could be made suitable for a local service road to the village for light traffic only. Opponents of this idea considered that to re-open even in this form would let through the fast traffic once more, as probably Collingham traffic would use the tunnel as well as Winthorpe. Finally, in June 1965, a referendum was ordered by the Parish Council after meetings with the Ministry and County Council representatives, and even George Deer M.P. himself, to decide whether the village should petition for the underpass to be reopened to local traffic. The inhabitants decided by 170 to 104 that Winthorpe should remain closed and quiet.
An interesting part of the construction of the by-pass was the method by which the concrete road-way was laid. It is worthwhile to record the following information, which appears in the brochure issued by the Ministry at the official opening:
"The by-pass has two 24-ft. wide carriageways, separated by a 15-ft. wide central reservation and 3-ft. wide hardened margins. The pavement construction has a 10-inch thick reinforced concrete slab in cuttings and 11-inch thick on embankments. An air entraining agent is included in the layer of concrete above the reinforcement to provide increased protection against frost.
The concrete pavement was laid by a concrete train utilising two-layer compaction and consisting of the following components :-
( 1) Mobile carpenter's shop carrying materials for joint forming.
(2) Polythene film laying machine.
(3) First base course spreader.
(4) Second base course spreader.
(5) Base course compactor.
(6) Wearing course air entrained concrete spreader.
(7) First compactor-finisher with articulated oscillating screed. Attached to this is the
longitudinal preformed joint device which feeds out a continuous strip of extruded rubber
(8) Transverse joint cutting machine comprising contraction and expansion joint cutters.
(9) Diagonal finisher with twin reciprocating beams. This is a planning machine, and there is no
vibration of the concrete.
(10) Curing compound sprayer carrying platform for the wire brush finish.
(11) White marginal strip laying machine which tows 200 ft. of waterproof canvas covers.
The road slab is laid on a base consisting of unstablised crushed concrete, surface dressed with tar and chippings, to give a total construction depth of 18 inches. A polythene sheet is laid between the slab and base to act as a sliding layer and prevent loss of water from the freshly placed concrete. Immediately after laying, the concrete surface was protected by the application of a resinous curing compound followed by waterproof canvas tenting on frames, running on the rails for the concreting train.
The speed at which the concrete pavement was laid quite exceeded expectations. The 6½ miles northbound carriageway was laid in forty working days at the average rate of 850 feet per day. On the return journey, with the advantage of the completed concrete carriage-way as a haul road for the concrete-carrying lorries, more favourable weather conditions, and the inclusion of an extra bottom course spreader, output was regularly maintained at over 1,000 feet per day, and on one day achieved the record of 1,800 feet.
It will be appreciated that a considerable amount of planning and detailed preparations were necessary to achieve this rate of progress. For example, special trains had to bring 600 tons of cement to Newark every other day and a shuttle service of road tankers delivered the cement from the trains to the three batching sites, 1,200 tons of Trent valley quartzitfe aggregates and 600 tons of sand were delivered to the site daily."
Mr. G.P. Bennett. 1971.