Happy 25th birthday M25

  • We celebrate the M25's silver anniversary
  • 25 things you didn't know about the M25
  • The 'World's Biggest Car Park' uncovered

Saturday 29th October marks an important anniversary for British motorists. It is the 25th birthday of the most notorious road on our motorway network: the M25.

If you’ve ever driven a car in the UK then the chances are you’ve been stuck in a jam on the London Orbital. It can be a soul-destroying situation to be in, and has ruined more days than flu, hangovers and food poisoning combined*.

With all that in mind you’re probably wondering what’s worth celebrating. Well here’s a list of 25 things you didn’t know about the road we love to hate.

1. In total, 700 days were spent assessing and addressing concerns regarding the construction of the route.

2. The M25 has an overall length of 117 miles.

3. In 1989 musician Chris Rea released a song called ‘Road to Hell’ written about the M25.

4. The part crossing the Thames is not part of the M25, but actually known as the A282. It includes a pair of tunnels and the Queen Elizabeth II (QE2) Bridge.

5. Total cost for building the M25 stands at £1bn.

6. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher officially opened the final section in October 1986.

7. More than two million tonnes of concrete and 3.5 million tonnes of asphalt were used in the construction of the motorway.

8. You have to pay a toll to pass through the Dartford Tunnel or over the QE2 Bridge. The rest of the M25 is free to travel on.

9. The widest part of the motorway is a six-lane-per-carriageway section between junctions 14 and 15.

10. Although known as the ‘London Orbital’ when first opened, the road isn’t actually circular. The section between Junction 1A and Junction 30 is joined by the A282.

11. There are currently three service areas on the M25: Thurrock, Clacket Lane and South Mimms.

12. A fourth service area is currently being built a Cobham, Surrey, and is due for completion before the Olympics in 2012.

13. In 1993 15% of all motorway traffic in the UK was on the M25.

14. There are currently three projects on-going on the M25: Junction 7-10 signage and service station, Junction 16-23 widening and Junction 27-30 widening.

15. The MIDAS (Motorway Incident Detection and Automatic Signalling) system comprises weather sensors, speed cameras and variable speed limit signs and aims to control traffic flow and prevent stop-start driving. It runs with little human interaction.

16. In 2003 196,000 vehicles per day were recorded on the M25 between Junctions 13 and 14.

17. The distance between central London and the M25 varies between 12 miles and 20 miles.

18. There is a computer game called ‘M25 Racer’ – the only way to legally race around the London Orbital.

19. In the 1980s there were certain groups of drivers with ultra-fast cars who raced illegally around the M25. Times regularly dipped under one hour, with speeds averaging nearly 120mph including a stop at the Dartford Crossing.

20. The M25 has earned the title of the ‘World’s Biggest Car Park’ because of its notoriety for awful traffic jams.

21. On 17th August 1988 a 22-mile traffic jam was reported on the M25 beginning between Junctions 9 and 10.

22. Novelist Iain Sinclair walked anti-clockwise around the M25 for his book ‘London Orbital’.

23. The ‘Orbital’ route also lent its name to a series of rave events in the 80s and 90s during the acid house era, eventually leading to the formation of the band Orbital, who had their first bit hit with the song ‘Chime’.

24. The original plans for the M25 can be traced back 100 years to 1911.

25. The M25 connects to nine other motorways: M1, M3, M4, M11, M20, M23, M26, M40 and A1(M).

*this is probably not true.