The M1 at Ballyskeagh
- part of the original section between
Saintfield Road and Broadway which
opened on July 10 1962.
IT may not be a date which stands out in many
peoples' memories but July 10 1962 brought a major change to the
lives of Lisburn motorists who commuted into Belfast by car on a
The opening that morning of to first section
(6.75 miles) of motorway on the island of Ireland - the M1
between Saintfield Road to the east of the town centre and
Broadway between Belfast's Falls and Donegal Roans - reduced the
driving time to between 10 and 15 minutes.
Gone was the need to negotiate bottlenecks
such as Finaghy Crossroads and the notorious Balmoral Avenue/
Lisburn Road junction.
Instead drivers could simply cruise along the
traffic light free new 'super highway, which ended at a point
just a mile and a half from the City Hall.
1 hose lucky enough to have radios in their
cars - a real luxury in those days - were able to enjoy a more
relaxed drive to work listening to songs such as 'I Remember
You' by Frank Ifield which went to number one in the charts
around the middle of the month.
Early users of the M1 remember those days
People recall how at the quietest times it was
possible to stop and pick mushrooms from the grass central
Individual motorists often said they had made
the drive in one direction or the other without seeing another
There was even a ghost story about a
mysterious disappearing hitchhiker who appeared on the motorway
in the Dunmurry/Drumbeg area.
The M1 opened without ceremony, the first
motorcyclist simply being waved through by police. however,
preparation work around Lisburn had been going on for some time.
The bridge at Kingsway. Dunmurry which
carries the motorway over the A1 and was designed by Ministry of
Commerce engineers was built between 1957 and 1959 by Farrans
The contract for construction of the first
two sections of the M1 - Broadway to Dunmurry and Dunmurry to
Saintfield Road - was awarded to Sir Alfred McApine and Son Ltd.
It was a sufficiently prestigious project for
local members of the institution of Civil Engineers to vist it
on September 9, 1960.
By the Spring of 1962 work on. both sections
was well advanced - including all the necessary sign posting,
road markings, etc, not only on the motorway but also on the
roads leading to it.
The Road -traffic Branch of the Royal Ulster
Constabulary mounted a vigorous campaign to educate drivers in
how to use a motorway and the motoring organisations such as the
RAC and the AA produced explanatory leaflets.
Traffic Branch also organised the patrolling
of the motorways on a basis similar to that used in England.
The Special Roads Act (NI) had received a
first reading but would not become law in time for the opening
of the first sections so the Ministry of Home Affairs Assistant
Secretary made temporary regulations under the existing powers
to control traffic using the motorway. The Act eventually became
law in March 1963.
The section of motorway between Saintfield
Road and Sprucefield opened on December 15, 1963 but it was not
until 1965 that it to came possible to travel by motorway to
The entire motorway to Dungannon which ran
through Northern Ireland's 'new city of Craigavon was not
completed until 1968 although a couple of short sections had
been completed prior to this.