The A303 is the road that passes Stonehenge on the way to the beaches of Devon and Cornwall. Fortunately it’s history and controversies are described by Tom Fort in his classic tale of a holiday journey along the 92-mile length of the A303 in his lovingly restored Morris Traveller. The A303 Highway to the Sun, first shown as a TV documentary on BBC Four in 2011, is unusual for making a road a film star.
Fort digs up the 1960s master plan for the A303’s dreams of superhighway status, meets a Neolithic traveller who knew the road like the back of his hand, gets to know a section of the Roman 303, uncovers a medieval murder mystery and discovers what lies at the end of the Highway to the Sun.
Motorists have cursed and loved the A303 for years, but it is Fort’s explanation of the causes of seasonal congestion by Stonehenge that will ring true for many despairing road campaigners:
Whilst sitting in the constricted section on the A303 a few hundred yards beyond Countess roundabout, Fort muses that motorists might contemplate how it came to this point that they are imprisoned by traffic queues everywhere. “Somewhere along the road the ideal of automotive freedom died.” Too much mobility, concluded Fort, resulted in “general immobility” (pp 126 onwards).
A good read: Guardian Review (2013): “Lovingly remembered from childhood holidays, the strip of tarmac from Basingstoke to Devon is both subject and hero of this hilarious memoir”