It was a 40-year mystery with more twists and turns than the road network the riddle was based on.
But now a Midland pensioner may have conclusively resolved the saga of why Birmingham’s entire inner ring road was named after the Queen.
Legend persists that Her Majesty mistakenly named the entire route the Queensway, rather than just the Queensway tunnel, when she opened the road on April 7, 1971.
The apparent gaffe was said to have happened after the Queen was taken on a longer-than-planned route through the tunnel and then the rest of the ring road, which was to have been called the Ringway.
Now an old friend of the city’s 1971 Lord Mayor, who welcomed the monarch on the big day, has confirmed that story and revealed the scenes after she named it the Queensway – meaning it could not be altered.
Peter Rimmell, now 85, said Coun Stan Bleyer told him the whole story at the politician’s Kings Heath home later the same day.
Mr Rimmell said: “I called round to see Stan and he said: ‘What do you think Pete old lad – the town clerk said we have to rename the whole of the Ringway’.
“The clerk said the Queen had said she had been for an inaugural drive around the Queensway so they needed to rename the whole lot.”
It meant a long list of ‘Queensway’ rather than ‘Ringway’ locations came to make up the inner ring road, including St Chad’s, Lancaster Street, Paradise Circus, Great Charles, Suffolk Street, Holloway Circus, Smallbrook, St Martin’s, Moor Street, James Watt and Masshouse Circus.
Mr Rimmell, who lives in Tanworth-in-Arden, could not verify Coun Bleyer’s version of events with the then town clerk, TH Parkinson, but said he was sure it was true.
Former traffic policeman Val Bradin shared his memories of the Queen’s visit a fortnight ago.
He said: “When the Queen went through she said: ‘I name this road the Queensway’ – and it shouldn’t have been that.
"But everyone was too frightened to say: ‘You made a mistake Ma’am’. She named it the Queensway and no one had the gall to tell her otherwise. I remember thinking how stupid it was – but I wouldn’t have said that at the time.”
Tunnel vision of what’s to come
These are the first pictures of engineers at work on the renovation of Birmingham’s city centre tunnels.
Less than a fortnight into the six week round-the-clock closure, the changes can already be seen taking place.
Fire protection coatings have been added to the ceilings, the gaps between the lanes are being filled and the old fluorescent light tubes are being removed.
Amey tunnels site manager Mark Butler said: “We are working in both tunnels 24 hours a day, with over 200 members of staff per shift operating specialist equipment and machinery in hot, humid and dusty conditions.
“Despite the logistical issues and the extreme conditions, we had a good week of production.
“All of the old lighting in the St Chad’s tunnel has been removed and the fire protection to the soffits is well under way. We have also commenced excavations for the structural works to infill the centre wall between the two carriageways in St Chads.”
Mr Butler said the work was on track and thanked commuters for patience.