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Pavements in the sky (Part 3)

The continuing hunt for the remainder of London’s abandoned pedway system. If you’ve made your way here via part one and part two, thanks for sticking with it.

In part two I wandered around the Barbican, which is the area with the only properly functioning pedway remaining. At the end of the piece I had descended down to ground level and was making my way to Bishopsgate, to see part of the system that had the scheme be fully realised would have been connected to the Barbican via Liverpool Street station and Moorgate. The map below shows the proposed system from 1963 and the route I could have taken.

Finsbury Circus

This highlights the problem that the scheme encountered. The green area is Finsbury Circus, the only surviving part of the Moor Fields. It’s a lovely area of two adjoining crescents of stately terraces. How would the proposed walkways fit into the surroundings? Well the possible answer, had some planners had their way, would have been to demolish the crescents, unthinkable today.

Finally reaching Bishopsgate I referred to the map I had found outlining the remaining parts of the system. This shows that the pedway ran through an office block to cross Wormwood Street.

As I approached the junction I could see the walkway crossing the road, but despite a twenty minute search I couldn’t find an open access point. I even went into one of the office receptions to ask if they knew where the stairs were from ground level, to be greeted with some blank looks from the mystified receptionists when I explained what I was looking for. It was only when I got home that I found out that the remaining part of the system has been incorporated into the fire escape route for the buildings on each side of the road, and there is now no public access. So another piece of the system has disappeared.

I trudged off down Old Broad Street roughly parallel with where the pedway ran, resigned to the fact that I would never see it. In front of me was the iconic 1970s Nat West Tower, now called Tower 42. There was a small pedestrian passageway which I thought I’d just have a nose along and this was rewarded by the site of a lone spiral staircase at the back of the alley.

Excitedly I ran up to the top to see what was there and ghasping for breath found sadly just a small part of the pedway deck truncated at each end.

Oh well, something’s better than nothing. In the next and final part I’ll visit parts of the system that do have a limited function, although little used by today’s pedestrians.

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