FROM the late 1950s until the end of the 20th century, a series of major road-building projects changed our area forever.

It seemed as though there was a relief road or a bypass planned for almost every community, as car ownership exploded and the use of public transport declined.

The Daily Echo is planning a series of features about the congestion that brings parts of the county to a standstill every day. And the photographs on this spread remind us of the wholesale road-building that was once the preferred solution.

One of the first big road schemes to change the area was the Christchurch bypass. Built in 1958, the road meant the town’s High Street would no longer be the main route to Southampton and London. In 1960, Barrack Road was widened to four lanes at the end nearest the town centre, making it the main route out of the town.

Bournemouth, too, was getting new links with other towns.

In 1967, construction began on the Wessex Way through the town. The A338 would take pressure off the town and areas such as Holdenhurst Road. But it would also mean flattening homes in the Springbourne area, as the new route was driven through the middle of residential roads.

Closer to the town centre, an elevated dual carriageway would loom over some of Bournemouth’s most attractive areas.

Meanwhile, the A338 Spur Road was being constructed to speed drivers out of Bournemouth along the western banks of the Stour towards Ringwood.

The £1.7million road cut through farmland at the village of Holdenhurst, separating it from the rest of the town. Much of the road ran along the route of the Bournemouth to Ringwood railway line, closed in 1935.

Bypasses continued to be a favoured tool for road planners in the 1970s. The Wessex Way was extended, with the Richmond Hill interchange replacing a traditional roundabout. Upton received its own bypass, opened in 1975.

The fashion for bypasses continued in the 1980s, with Wareham and Ferndown both getting them, and the Holes Bay road intended to relieve traffic in Poole. By the end of the decade, the Wessex Way and the Spur Road were linked by a flyover crossing the Cooper Dean roundabout.

But such large-scale road-building was to fall out of fashion. Plans to build relief roads for areas such as Wallisdown, Branksome and Highcliffe, were much debated but never got off the ground.

It is difficult to imagine road building reshaping the area the way these schemes once did.