ORBITING THE ORBITAL
A photographic journey above the M25 Motorway
The M25 or London Orbital Motorway is a major road encircling almost all of Greater London, England. It is one of the most important roads in Britain; one of the busiest; and on opening in 1986 was the longest orbital or ring road in Europe at 117 miles. Described as the ‘road to nowhere’, the M25 may have many critics – but three decades after it was opened it’s hard to imagine the landscape of the south of England without the London bypass.
It was designed to divert traffic from driving across London; lorries were banned in the Metropolis during the day in an attempt to move them onto this road. This would have been an excellent plan apart from one small but significant flaw; there wasn’t enough room for the traffic that wanted to use it. Around 200,000 vehicles use the motorway every day.
A road without a beginning or end, a classic case of redundant design, this motorway actually goes nowhere. It is in some respects verification of Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity in that, if you drive along it for long enough, you return to your starting point.
Add to this the activities of the cone fairies and the recipe for disaster was complete.
A road planner however, who may be a kind of lateral genius or possibly an abuser of mind altering substances, came up with the idea of lowering the speed limit to increase the speed of traffic. Against all logic, this worked.
Used by thousands of frustrated motorists everyday, it is by and large, as with most motorways, highly unexciting to drive on. Often suffering from huge delays, due to road works, accidents etc. It has since its completion, never been empty, not even in the early hours of the morning, when traffic is at a minimum.
The photographs in this book were taken using a 5x4 film camera; the technique used removes the cars, leaving only a residue of their existence on some of the images. The pictures are taken from the bridges above the motorway, the camera always placed at the centre and pointed in either a clockwise and anticlockwise direction. The images are not in any particular order. This book, like the motorway itself, has neither a beginning nor an end.