IT’S been 50 years since the M1 opened bringing with it enormous change.

This week in 1968 just weeks after the ribbon had been cut at Dodworth’s new junction by minister of transport Richard Marsh two very different concerns were being raised on the front page of the Chronicle about the new road.

One was that children had started playing ‘chicken’ on the new million-pound-a-mile highway, equivalent to £16m a mile at today’s prices.

The other, was that businesses in Barnsley had suffered to the tune of 15 or 20 per cent in lost trade in the few short weeks since it opened.

Local councillors in Dodworth were deeply alarmed about reports of children playing ‘chicken’ running across the three-lane carriageways, and there were even reports of toddlers straying onto the motorway. There were calls for the Ministry of Transport to step in and help.

In Text Promo Image

Stern warnings about the dangers of playing on the motorway were issued by local head teachers.

And County Councillor Sam Illingsworth - a member of the local road safety committee suggested the council should ask the government for an impregnable barrier to be installed to keep children off the road.

“This could become tragic if we have any fatalities,” he said.

He said members of the road safety committee were alarmed at the reports and were appealing to all parents to warn their children of the dangers of straying onto the motorway.

Meanwhile the secretary of the Barnsley Chamber of Trade claimed that local traders had lost 15 to 20 per cent of their usual trade following the opening of the motorway.

However Colin Dransfield, president of the Barnsley British Co-operative Society, claimed that the shopkeepers’ claims were ‘fantastically exaggerated’ and said that the claims had tendencies to do great harm to the town.

“Factually it cannot be true,” said Mr Dransfield. “Since our society has increased its trade by nearly a quarter of a million pounds during the last trading year.

“Furthermore, since the motorway opened up, each week we have had further increases in trade.

“It is of some moment to note that ours is the only business enterprise which declares openly to the press and public the measure of trade we do.

“If it is claimed that there is a loss of 15 to 20 per cent trade amongst traders in Barnsley, then in the light of facts, this alleged loss has has gone not to Leeds or Sheffield, but to the Barnsley Co-op.”

The final completed 35-mile section of the M1 ran from Aston south of Sheffield, to Leeds.

Construction had started in 1966.