This film follows the route that the A23 used to take as it wound its way through Sussex before the current road was completed in the early 1990s and includes some stretches that were decommissioned in the 1960s and 70s. With a camera bolted to the roof of a battered old car, historical commentary is delivered live as the route is travelled.
Starting at Pease Pottage and passing through Handcross, Bolney, Hickstead, Sayers Common, Albourne and Pyecombe before heading south to the outskirts of Brighton, the course of the old road is faithfully followed, noting pubs, past and present, along the way.
Often a good clue at ground level is the remaining kerbstones used in the major upgrade of the route in the 1930s. Although sections of the current day A23 were built over the old in places, many sections of the original road remain. Some sections were converted to minor roads, some became slip roads for the current A23 and some simply became huge cul-de-sacs. Other sections were physically dug up and allowed to revert back to nature, becoming giant green lanes.
Through some of the villages, the once bustling highway remains much as it was when the road was moved in the early 90s, whereas numerous crossroads, that were appalling accident black spots during the road’s lifetime, became peaceful backwaters almost overnight.
Many clues remain for those too young to remember the old road as it was and for those that are old enough, seeing them again may bring back memories of travelling in what was a different age. It is interesting to remember how windy and undulating this road was compared to the relative uniformity of the current day A23.
The last remaining section still in use at the time of filming that gives a hint of what travelling the old road was like is the infamous Handcross Hill. Largely unchanged since it became a dual carriageway in 1957, for a modern car it is a lunatic roller coaster ride through narrow lanes and steep curves, often catching newcomers unaware. Long overdue work to widen and straighten this section was just starting as this film was made and views just before all the trees came down are included here.
In addition to constant running commentary as the route is travelled, numerous vantage point views from bridges, some vintage views from years gone by and plenty of information are included for the historian.