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Hungerford has developed over the centuries as a market town supplying the needs of the local population. However, it's development and prosperity has been greatly influenced by various transport links, especially the London to Bath road (now the A4), the Oxford to Salisbury road, the Kennet and Avon Canal, and the railway.

As more and more people used motor cars after the Second World War, the amount of traffic passing through Hungerford, especially on the A4 along Charnham Street, became enormous. At weekends the town became a notorious bottleneck (along with several other towns on the route!).

During the 1960s and 70s many motorways were built in order to relieve the older roads, and speed communication across the country. One of the most important was the M4 motorway. 

The initial plans started in 1957, but there were long delays whilst preservation societies, planning inquiries and tussles with landowners were overcome.

This opened in sections, but the final stretch was opened on Wednesday 22nd December 1971, at a tape cutting ceremony at Holyport interchange near Maidenhead, by Michael Heseltine, Parliamentary Under-secretary of State at the Department of the Environment.

It cost around £1 million per mile. When it opened, there was no service station for 106 miles between Middlesex and the Severn Bridge!

Once the M4 was open, there was far less traffic through Hungerford, and a corresponding reduction in passing trade at local hotels and inns.

Photo Gallery:

1971 M4 opening
1971 M4 opening

- Press report, December 1971.

See also:

- Coaching

- Turnpike Trusts