Chiswick Flyover Celebrates 50 years

Imogen Stubbs unveils plaque which cites Jayne Mansfield's immortal words, "It's a sweet little flyover"

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Jayne Mansfield 1959

From left: Marianna Smith, daughter of Eric Ingerslev, builder of the flyover, with Imogen Stubbs and Mayor of Hounslow Paul Lynch. Behind them is a tree Marianna Smith had just planted in memory of her father.


Chiswick Flyover under construction (above and left)

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The 50th anniversary of the opening of the Chiswick flyover was marked yesterday, 30th September, with the unveiling of plaque.

Five decades to the day screen siren Jayne Mansfield (pictured right) cut the ribbon to officially open the final link connecting the M4 with central London, local dignitaries were joined by Imogen Stubbs who ‘did the honours.’

The actress, who lives nearby on the Thames, unveiled a plaque on which was written "It's a sweet little flyover" echoing the words used by Miss Mansfield all those years ago.

Mayor of Hounslow Cllr Paul Lynch told, “The opening of this, Britain’s first flyover, marked the start of a road building programme that was to make possible mass car ownership, and alter how we travel, where we live and shop, take holidays, what clothes we wear and the crimes we commit. Not all the changes are welcome, some are quite horrid, and certainly there is a whole raft of unexpected outcomes from our first tentative steps in 1959 into the motorised society.

"It is worth us politicians contemplating, when we are about to release genies, whether future generations would like some of them back in the bottle as much as we would like of those which got loose when Jayne cut that tape.”

Imogen Stubbs was invited to take part after Mariska Hargitay, the Law & Order actress daughter of the late Hollywood star, sent her regrets for being unable to attend the reception.

According to Telegraph’s Tim Walker, who launched a one man campaign to ensure that the occasion was appropriately marked, Miss Hargitay said she hoped that all the "Cheswick flyover" [sic] revellers would have a "great day".

The Chiswick Flyover was the first major two-level highway scheme to be carried out in the Metropolitan Area since World War II.

The works extended for about half a mile and included a through road to link London's "new" western approach, the Cromwell Road Extension, to the Great West Road without interference from cross-traffic. This through road was carried over a new 400ft diameter roundabout with a 40ft wide carriageway at the junction of the North Circular Road, Chiswick High Road, the road to Kew Bridge and the Great West Road.

Traffic was distributed to these roads by means of four slip roads joining the roundabout at ground level. The junction was used by at least 40,000 vehicles a day and was seriously congested at times. The scheme removed a potential bottleneck at the western end of the Cromwell Road Extension.

The through road of the flyover had dual 24ft 0in wide carriageways separated by a central island and each slip road was 24ft wide, providing two traffic lanes. The gradient of each slip road east of the roundabout was about 1 in 20 and that of the through road west of the roundabout about 1 in 29. Other gradients did not exceed 1 in 40.

Source: The Motorway Archive further information about Chiswick Flyover can be found here

October 1, 2009