The Gravely Hill interchange, which is also known as Spaghetti Junction, has just turned 50 this week. This emblematic construction project came to light on May 24, 1972, and remained a concluding chapter of England’s new motorway system at that time, which linked some of the major routes, i.e., M1, M5, and M6. And you know what, Evan Owen Williams, who is a London-born architect, was the person behind the design of this miraculous project. He paved the way for all types of local and national traffic and turned it towards the city of Birmingham through the Aston Expressway. Moreover, it took about 12,655 tonnes of steel and 175,000 tonnes of concrete to build this complex but marvelous junction.
However, the fabrication of this iconic junction has cost the local communities as well, because around 146 houses were granulated for construction purposes. As you can see in the spectacular picture below, there is a river known as “River Tame” along with “Salford Reservoir,” which was re-designed in a magnificent way, and a park was also developed. An architectural critic named Reyner Banham termed this interchange a “tourist route and a Big Brummagem artwork” and was amazed at the mobility and the dynamic landscape of the location.
Banham said, “The close-packed curving and intersecting perspectives of double files of columns seem all the more extraordinary from the constantly changing views of a moving car.” Also, the official authorities of Birmingham see the Spaghetti Junction as a regime change for the country, both at the national and international levels. The era of the 1970s came to an end with an increase in urban traffic and greater mobility. So, the introduction of this phenomenal interchange took people some time to understand the pathways.
However, British broadcaster ATV stated that some pedestrians used to cross the Aston Expressway in the fast-moving traffic, which could pose a serious threat to their lives. Hence, the Birmingham Mail then released some guidelines for them and advised them to “use your eyes, drive on the signs, and you will untangle spaghetti without trouble”.
It is interesting to note that this phenomenal junction was also featured in the 1973 movie “Take Me High” when Cliff Richard (who has been named “Tim Mathews”) in the movie was on a mission to “save the Brumburger restaurant”. For further reference, the trailer for the show is depicted below in the video. This interchange is actually a cultural depiction of various identities and is regarded as a “world-beating wonder.”