Archive photos show packed 1960s 'ring road meeting' that hoped to solve traffic headaches

Controversial 'ring road' meeting at the former Queensway Hall
Controversial 'ring road' meeting at the former Queensway Hall

With work now progressing on the Dunstable town centre “gateways”, first of the series of changes aimed at making the area more pedestrian-friendly, here’s a reminder of an earlier effort to deal with our traffic problems.

The newly opened Queensway Hall was packed for a public meeting at which highways experts explained their plan for a town bypass, stretching along the foot of Blow’s Downs from the junction at Caddington Turn, near Manshead School, to Boscombe Road and beyond.

Members of the public packed the meeting to hear about the plans

Members of the public packed the meeting to hear about the plans

It would have meant a comparatively traffic-free shopping centre, but at the expense of all those whose homes would have been near the new road.

Understandably it was very controversial and an anti-bypass campaign gained a lot of support. The plan was eventually abandoned.

Here are two Gazette photos showing the large turnout for what was labelled “the ring road meeting”.

They have the additional nostalgic interest of picturing Queensway’s splendid wood-lined hall when it was almost brand-new. The hall, of course, is long-gone and the Asda supermarket now stands on the site.

The smaller photo shows, to the right of the speaker, Dunstable’s long-serving town clerk, Jack Smith.

This helps to pinpoint the date of the meeting: Mr Smith retired in 1966 and the Queensway Hall was opened in 1964. On Mr Smith’s right is Ted Dyke, who was the vigorous Leader of the borough council’s Labour group.