Saturday, 5 September 2009

A2 Dover Road

The A2 is a major road in southern England, connecting London with the English Channel port of Dover in Kent. This route has always been of importance as a connection between the British capital of London and sea trade routes to Continental Europe. It was formerly known as the Dover Road.
Unlike the other single digit A-roads in Great Britain, the A2 does not form a zone boundary (in this case between Zone 1 and Zone 2). The Zone 1/2 boundary is in fact the River Thames.

History of the route
The London to Canterbury road in 1840, with a sign onwards to Dover. In the 1920s this became the A2 road; the modern A2, however, bypasses parts of this route.

Map of Dover Road 1840

The original A2 roughly followed the route of a Celtic ancient trackway which the Romans later paved and identified as Iter III on the Antonine Itinerary. The Anglo-Saxons named it Wæcelinga Stræt which developed into the modern Watling Street. It was one of the most important Roman roads in Britain, since it linked London with Canterbury , and from there to three Channel ports: Richborough (Rutupiae); Dover (Dubris) and Lympne (Lemanis). The road had river crossings at Rochester over the River Medway; Dartford (River Darent) and Crayford (River Cray). It continued in use long after the Romans departed in the 5th century.
By the 17th century the road, like most roads in Britain, had fallen into disrepair, although the bridge at Rochester remained in good condition, since it was maintained by the Bridge Wardens. Turnpike Acts began to be passed by Parliament, as a result of which such roads were opened piecemeal: the section of what is now the A2 between Gravesend and Rochester was turnpiked in 1712; that between Chatham and Canterbury in 1730. The road from there to Dover was not turnpiked until early in the 19th century, by which time it had become known as the Great Dover Road.
In the 1920s, when British roads were allocated numbers, the A2 became the principal road in the south-eastern section of Britain. Its original alignment roughly followed a mix of the ancient Celtic route and the turnpike road to Dover. The Roman alignment, however, is not easy to identify and much of the original A2 does not exactly follow what is known of the Roman route (the straightness of many long stretches is misleading). However, a section of the modern A2 from Rochester to the Roman settlement of Vagniacae, modern Springhead, is believed to roughly follow the Roman route

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