Origin and Evolution of Recreational Motoring on Unsealed Roads

Many people, particularly those who would like to ban all mechanically propelled vehicles from unsealed roads, now use the argument that driving on unsealed roads is somehow ‘unnatural’, whereas nothing could be further from the truth. In the early days of motoring, the sealed road was the exception, and the spread of the ‘blacktop’ took much longer than most people imagine. Many minor roads in the UK were unsealed well into the 1950s and 1960s, and were used by everyday drivers just as if they were sealed. In many areas, the decisions as to which roads to tarmac, and which to leave unsealed, were made on an almost arbitrary basis, with the resultant anomalies that we now see today – tarmacked roads that are in everyday use whilst unsealed roads or byways nearby are neglected or unrepaired. This paper looks at how motoring on unsealed roads started and developed.

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LARA wishes to collect evidence of ‘normal’ cars and motorcycles on unsealed roads in the UK from the 1960s right up to the present day. Anecdotal evidence – “My Dad used to drive the Post Office van up **** Lane in the 1960s” – is helpful, but photographs are even better, and if the road is now tarmacked, that is even better still. All information will be gratefully received by email to admin@laragb.org. Thank You!