30. What is it like underneath Spaghetti Junction?
15th May, 2010. We sallied forth for some fresh air. It was largely a
dull day; but we were undaunted in our Quest. This was simply to take some
photos. underneath Spaghetti
Junction. This unlovely name was bestowed on a relatively complicated motorway
junction on the M6, which connects it to the centre of
Here, we are approaching the junction
Here is the canal, now quite near to the motorway. The River Rea is alongside, to the right, and lower down, as in the previous shot. The names of rivers are absolutely fascinating, as I’m sure you know? They are almost always very ancient – unless they have been ‘back-named’ from villages or towns through which they flow, e.g. the Cherwell, the Penk, and many others. If they are unchanged (as most of them are), river names can instantly whisk us back into the very distant past – for example the Celtic period; or perhaps even further, into the remote, misty period before the Celts came to these islands? The name ‘Rea’ however, may only go back to Old English, and simply means ‘river’, just as afon is the Welsh (Celtic) non-specific name for a ‘river’, of whatever sort.
There’s the main elevated M6, dominating… what? Simply the confluence of the small River Rae (coming from bottom right) with the small Hockley Brook coming in from the left. A few hundred yards further on, the Rea flows into the River Tame. ‘Tame’ of course, is a fascinating river name. Tame, Team, Teme, Tamar, Thames: there are many of these sort of name, to be found all over Britain. The Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names describes it as ‘Ancient Celtic’, first recorded ~50 BC. It has also been suggested that the few river names whose origin has never been positively defined, just might be hold-overs from the language of the people who lived in the British Isles before even the Celts arrived. Apparently, nobody knows what that language might have been, or any other words from it. How marvelous if this were true!
The old ‘
Here we are looking back into
There is more than one ‘confluence’ under
Spaghetti Junction. Here, dwarfed and oppressed by the megalithic pillars
supporting the M6, is the junction of the Birmingham and Fazeley
Canal (coming in at the left and turning sharp right), with the Tame Valley
Canal coming in straight towards us, from the west. This is a relatively recent
canal, as attested by its direct line, its many embankments and bold
earthworks. If you have even been queuing in the interminable traffic where the
northbound M5 meets the M6, you will have passed under the
We are looking back along the
Here is a view looking back towards the
junction of the
Rather more to the left of the previous
shot, the Birmingham & Fazeley heads off
resolutely east, turning north east, the progressively north, en route to Fazeley,
on the old
Though it had been a very dull day, the sun did happen to come out for a short time, and make luminous the Ragwort (I would imagine that’s what it is) growing along the canalized Hockley Brook on the south west side of the M6. I suppose they dug it a channel so that it wouldn’t occasionally overflow and lap away at the concrete pillars supporting the M6. An excellent idea.
A view underneath old
Of course, no plant life actually grows underneath the M6 on this elevated section. It’s too dry under there, and little sunshine can ever penetrate. We’re looking north west here. The Hockley Brook is on the left. I presume this metalled roadway underneath the M6, strangely deserted, serves some important purpose. I don’t know how far it goes, and did not explore it on foot, as I had been pottering about for a couple of hours and was getting rather tired, sorry.
It is of course impossible to ‘photograph’ Spaghetti Junction – it’s far too big. But you can see a couple of link roads (to the north east) on this shot.
There is a commemorative plaque on
Page written 22nd October 2010.
Modified 29th April 2017.