M53 motorway

Route map:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

M53 shield
MapM53 highlighted in blue

Shown in North West England

Shown with the UK motorway network
M53, Storeton 130909.JPG
Looking north near Storeton
Route information
Maintained by National Highways
Length18.9 mi (30.4 km)
  • Opened: 1972
  • Completed: 1982
Major junctions
North endBidston
53°24′41″N 3°04′49″W / 53.4114°N 3.0802°W / 53.4114; -3.0802 (M53 motorway (northern terminus))
Major intersections
J11 → M56 motorway
South endHoole Village
53°12′52″N 2°51′24″W / 53.2144°N 2.8567°W / 53.2144; -2.8567 (M53 motorway (southern terminus))
CountryUnited Kingdom
CountiesMerseyside, Cheshire
Road network
M50 M54

The M53 is an 18.9-mile (30.4 km) motorway in the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral, Merseyside and the borough of Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire on the Wirral Peninsula in England.[1] It is also referred to as the Mid Wirral Motorway.[2] It runs between the Kingsway Tunnel, at Wallasey in the north, and the A55 at Chester.[1]

The main reason for the motorway was to provide a through route to the new Mersey Road Tunnel, Kingsway, which was built at the same time. Part of this motorway was originally the M531.


Looking northwards, midway between junctions 3 and 4 at Storeton

Starting at the northern end, the motorway starts in Wallasey at the exit slip roads from the Kingsway Tunnel from Liverpool. It loops round the north west of Birkenhead and then runs south as a dual three-lane route between Upton, Woodchurch in the west and Prenton. From junctions 1 to 3 it runs parallel to the Borderlands railway line. It crosses this line south of junction 3. From this junction it proceeds south to the west of Bebington through junction 4 and then further south for 4 miles (6.4 km) (where it crosses the Wirral railway line), before narrowing to dual two-lane[3] and turning sharply to the east. At junction 5, traffic for Wales can take the A41, A550 and A494 to join the A55 near Ewloe. The road passes north and then east of Hooton, then to the east of Overpool and Wolverham and with Ellesmere Port to the west.

South of junction 10 the route enters a more rural setting, passing under the M56 motorway at junction 11. Finally, it heads south and becomes the A55 North Wales Expressway at junction 12.


This motorway was originally two separate projects, the M53 and M531. The M53 was originally proposed to run from the Kingsway Tunnel to Backford.[4] The M531 would have run from between the current junctions 4 & 5 and provided a connection with the M56 for eastbound travel.

When the M53 was first planned in the early 1960s, it was designed as a route to connect the two Mersey road tunnels with the A55 trunk road on the Welsh border, giving Liverpool and the rest of Merseyside a direct link with Chester and the towns on the North Wales coast.

In the event, the A55 link was never built and instead the M531 (by-passing the eastern side of Chester) was incorporated into the M53.[5]


The first section of the M531 was built to improve access to the Vauxhall Ellesmere Port facility. It was opened in 1968 as a non-designated road.[4] Subsequently this road was extended further south to meet the A5117 and was designated as the M531. In March 1981, the M531 was lengthened to meet the M56 and at this stage the whole route was redesignated as the M53.


Construction on the M53 started in 1969.[6] It was to be built in stages as part of a strategic route to North Wales for traffic from Merseyside. The route to North Wales was unresolved as there was even an option to run due west from south of junction 4 and cross the River Dee on a barrage. This first section from the tunnel to junction 5, where it connected straight into the Vauxhall Motors road, was opened by Lord Leverhulme in a ceremony at Hooton on 1 February 1972.[6] A junction was partially built to allow extension of the motorway further south west, around 1 mile (1.6 km) west of junction 5. The unbuilt motorway would have provided a bypass of the A41 and would likely have terminated on the M56,[7] though exactly where is unknown. The unfinished junction for this extension has now been demolished.

The final section of the M53 provided a link to Chester from the M56 and was opened in 1982. No plans are known to exist to complete the originally planned M53.[5][dead link]


  • Junctions 1 to 5 were opened in 1972
  • Junctions 5 to 8 were redesignated as motorway in 1974 as part of the M531[8]
  • Junctions 8 to 10 opened in 1975 as part of the M531
  • Junctions 10 to 11 were opened in 1981
  • Junctions 11 to 12 were opened in 1982


Coach crash[edit]

On 29 September 2023, a coach overturned and crashed in the M53 motorway coach crash. Jessica Baker, a 15-year-old schoolgirl, and the driver, Stephen Shrimpton, both died in the crash. [9]


M53 motorway junctions
mile km Northbound exits (B carriageway) Junction Southbound exits (A carriageway)
0.0 0.0 End of motorway
Road continues as
Wallasey Tunnel towards Liverpool
J1 Birkenhead, New Brighton, Wallasey A5139 (A554)
Non-motorway traffic
Birkenhead [Note 1] A5139 Start of motorway
Wallasey, Birkenhead A554
6.5 10.5 Hoylake, West Kirby (A551) J2 Hoylake, West Kirby (A551)
8.6 13.8 Birkenhead A552 J3 Birkenhead, Heswall A552
11.7 18.8 Clatterbridge, Heswall, Bebington A5137 J4 Bebington, Bromborough, Clatterbridge, Neston A5137
15.8 25.4 Birkenhead, Queensferry A41 J5 NORTH WALES, Queensferry, Eastham A41
16.2 26.1 Entering Merseyside J6 Vauxhall (Cars Only), Eastham Oil Terminal
Vauxhall (Cars Only), Eastham Oil Terminal Entering Cheshire
17.5 28.2 Overpool, Whitby, North Road Industrial Estate B5132 J7 Overpool, Whitby, North Road Industrial Estate B5132
18.3 29.5 Netherpool and Rossmore Industrial Estates, Docks J8 Netherpool and Rossmore Industrial Estates, Docks
19.1 30.7 Ellesmere Port (Centre), Boat Museum A5032 J9 Ellesmere Port (Centre), Stanlow, Boat Museum A5032
20.9 33.7 Queensferry, Stanlow A5117 J10 Queensferry, Stanlow A5117
21.6 34.8 Runcorn, Liverpool Airport interchange, Warrington, (M6),

Manchester M56

J11 Runcorn, Warrington, (M6), Manchester M56
24.5 39.5 Start of motorway J12 Chester A56
24.9 40.1 Chester, Helsby A56
Non-motorway traffic
End of motorway
Road continues as
A55 towards North Wales
Moreton Spur
End of motorway
West Kirby A551 (B5139)
Moreton A551, Hoylake (A553)
Moreton A551, Hoylake (A553)
Upton A551 Start of motorway
(Moreton Spur)
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

Data from driver location signs is used to provide distance and carriageway identifier information.[10]

  1. ^
    1: Signed as 'All Docks'.

Traffic counts[edit]

Section Capacity AADT (2019) Count point data
J1-J2 D3 77,684 Increase 46040
J2-J2A (Moreton Spur) D2 43,788 Increase 56042
J2-J3 D3 65,764 Increase 6045
J3-J4 70,602 Increase 75457
J4-J5 60,257 Increase 16041
J5-J6 73,717 Increase 26063
J6-J7 D2 53,795 Increase 46059
J7-J8 71,378 Increase 16060
J8-J9 77,609 Increase 36063
J9-J10 66,522 Decrease 56062
J10-J11 D3 79,872 Increase 27872
J11-J12 D2 69,147 Increase 75190

M53 Divide[edit]

The M53 is seen as an east–west divide between the affluent and developing areas of the Wirral.[11][12]


A full-sized replica of one of the motorway's bridges forms part of the exhibition O' Magic Power of Bleakness by Mark Leckey at Tate Britain (September 2019 – January 2020).[13][14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Motorway Database: M53". CBRD. Retrieved 12 August 2008.
  2. ^ "The Mid-Wirral Motorway M53 and A55 Extension to the Welsh Border". The Motorway Archive. Archived from the original on 23 April 2017. Retrieved 22 April 2017.
  3. ^ ,"CBRD Motorway Database-M53 Exit List". crdb.co.uk. Chris Marshall. Archived from the original on 23 April 2017. Retrieved 22 April 2017.
  4. ^ a b "M53. The Mid-Wirral Motorway". The Motorway Archive. The Motorway Archive Trust. Archived from the original on 23 April 2017. Retrieved 22 April 2017.
  5. ^ a b Marshall, Chris. "CBRD » Histories » The M53". CBRD. Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 26 February 2011.
  6. ^ a b Hughes, Lorna (26 December 2017). "The story of the M53 - how the mid-Wirral motorway was built". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  7. ^ "Written Answers to Questions". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. 23 July 1993. col. 403.
  8. ^ "The Motorway Archive – M53 Opening Dates". Institution of Highways and Transportation. Archived from the original on 18 August 2007. Retrieved 24 September 2006.
  9. ^ Craig Williams (29 September 2023). "M53 crash: Coach driver and 15-year-old schoolgirl killed". The Herald. Retrieved 29 September 2023.
  10. ^ "Traffic England Live Traffic Condition Map (selected Popups)". Highways Agency. Archived from the original on 10 February 2012. Retrieved 11 November 2009.
  11. ^ Cummins, Dr Anthony G. (6 August 2021). "Health inequalities on Wirral: A living Black report?".
  12. ^ "The M53 divide: How Wirral is split between poverty and wealth". 2 September 2018.
  13. ^ "'Pixie encounter' under Cheshire bridge inspires Tate exhibition". BBC. 25 September 2019. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  14. ^ "Mark Leckey O' Magic Power of Bleakness". Tate. Retrieved 17 December 2019.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap
KML is from Wikidata