Birmingham & Black Country

Midlands Today 50th anniversary: The days before gridlock

BBC Midlands Today, one of Britain's oldest regional television news programmes, is celebrating 50 years of broadcasting.

Here's a look back from the archive to the heady days before congestion on Birmingham and the Black Country's roads, railways and air routes.

'Don't get lost'

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Media captionThe intersection rarely looks this quiet today

Described as the "most complex road system in the world", Gravelly Hill Interchange - better known as spaghetti junction - opened to the public in May 1972.

The reporter boldly states it will bring benefits to many drivers "providing you don't get lost".

The M6 interchange still daunts drivers to this day, but it never looks this quiet any more.


Up, up and away

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Media captionThe new terminal included cafes, shops and four bars.

"It's the best thing Birmingham's ever done", says one flyer at Birmingham Airport's new terminal, which opened in 1984.

That's a pretty big claim, but with its "plush interior lounge" and bright red cafeteria seats it was the height of 80s sophistication.

Look out for a young Patrick Burns - these days the West Midlands political editor - enjoying a tipple.


Long lost views

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Media captionSome residents did not believe the countryside would be sacrificed for the motorways

Before the M42 and M40 motorways were built, this was one of the views in 1976 from a home in Apes Dale, Worcestershire, facing demolition to make way for the roads.

One campaigner speaks of his confidence that the motorways between Bromsgrove and Solihull won't be built - history had other ideas.


Horses on the line

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Media captionThe horse sculptures are made of steel

Ever wonder where those black metal horses by the rail line between Wolverhampton and Birmingham came from? Here's your answer.

Artist Kevin Atherton tells the reporter he liked the idea that the horse would be "flashing past the train". Congestion on the line means it's often more of a trot these days as services trundle through the Black Country.


Days of Thunder

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Media captionDrivers tested the route at speed in wintry conditions

Two years before Birmingham's first Super Prix race, Midlands Today got an up close - and pretty fast - view of the city circuit from a driver's perspective as cars sped along snowy roads testing it out.

Oh, and the video's got a rather great 80s backing track too.