Traffic calming and efforts to ease congestion have taken many forms throughout the world and especially in London. Today, emphasis on public transportation, bike shares, and the advent of the London Congestion Charge at the beginning of the century are the primary ways that the city seeks to make it easier to get around. In the 1960s, the Greater London Council (the predecessor to the Greater London Authority) sought to build new roads to help improve traffic flow in the city. Their proposals would ultimately meet with mixed results and were never fully completed, but today’s London roads still bear the evidence of the attempt.
The idea of orbital “ring roads” around London actually got its start in 1937. The Highway Development Survey published that year proposed ring roads similar to American parkways, wide roads that had limited access points. The proposal by Sir Charles Bressey would have required significant demolition of London homes and separated neighborhoods, which proved unpopular (and would come up again). Ultimately, the London County Council was unable to find funds for the road construction and abandoned the idea. These hindrances would come up again in the 1940s as ring roads were proposed as part of London’s post-Blitz reconstruction, and so the scheme was abandoned for the same reasons of displacement and funding.
When the LCC became the GLC in the 1960s, these plans carried over and were once again up for discussion. Spurred on by the vast increase of automobiles on the road-post war, the GLC proposed a series of four ring roads. Ringway 1 was a rectangular and was planned for just outside of London’s Central Zone. Ringway 2 was planned as an upgrade of the North Circular Road and a new roadway to replace the South Circular Road. Ringway 3 was a new road that would ink outer suburbs like Croydon, Esher, Barnet, Dartford, Chigwell, and Waltham Cross. Ringway 4 was the furthest out, meant to link several towns surrounding the capital, and was the only one of the four ring roads that didn’t make a complete circle.
The GLC launched a massive education campaign in 1966-1967 to educate the public about the proposed road scheme, but the plans were met with strong opposition from the public over the amount of demolition that would occur to their neighborhoods. Confusion and misinformation were prevalent and, in some cases, exacerbated by the newspapers and the GLC’s often vague responses and lack of transparency. Despite the continuing nature of the public inquiry, the GLC went ahead with construction of some parts of the ringways but by the early 1970s were already modifying the plans in response to objections from local councils and neighborhood groups.
Ultimately, the roads plan radically changed from what was originally planned. Only parts of Ringway 1 were built, such as the East Cross Route and parts of the West Cross Route, relics of the latter can be seen in the Southwyck House in Brixton, which was meant to be a noise barrier to the housing estate behind it. The Ringway 2 upgrades to the North Circular Road were made, but the new South Circular Road was abandoned. Ringways 3 and 4 would become parts of the M25, M26, and the A312. The ringway plans were ultimately put to bed after Ken Livingstone became head of the GLC in 1981.
To date, nothing similar to the ringways scheme has been proposed. Transport for London took over as the main planning body for London’s roads, and while it has constructed other routes to alleviate London congestion, the specter of the former ring roads plan seems to be gone for good. TfL’s current road schemes focus not only on alleviating traffic but providing more green spaces, reducing pollution, and honoring London’s communities. London’s plans are much changed over a hundred years and will continue to evolve with the needs of Londoners.
If you’ve been to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in recent months, you might have noticed that a section of it has been cordoned off for a new development. The result was unveiled by London Mayor Sadiq Khan this week: The London Blossom Garden, a green space with 33 blossoming trees, planted in memory of more than 19,000 Londoners who have died as a result of Covid-19. The number, 33, was chosen to signify all of London’s boroughs. The location, north of the park in Newham, has significance too, as Newham was one of the boroughs worst affected by the pandemic. In May 2020, the Guardian reported that the area had the worst mortality rate in England and Wales.
The public garden is the first in a series of blossom plantings planned by the National Trust for different locations in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Alongside the trees, there are benches created from locally claimed wood, with pink and peach tones designed to echo the colours of the trees when they are in bloom. Right now, they are looking a little bare, but the garden will look very different when the blossom season begins again next spring.
Speaking about the garden’s launch, Sadiq Khan said, ‘I’m immensely proud to join some of our capital’s key workers to open the London Blossom Garden […] This new public garden is a lasting living memorial in recognition of the impact that Covid has had, and continues to have, on our city. It is a place to join together to remember the more than 19,000 Londoners who have tragically died, to reflect on our own experiences of the pandemic, to highlight how this virus has disproportionately impacted many of our communities, and to pay tribute to the ongoing efforts of our key workers.’
The opening of the memorial coincided with the launch of a new citywide bereavement programme, which is designed for Londoners who have lost loved ones to Covid, in an effort to help them navigate their grief. The Recovery Bereavement Programme is now in its first phase, beginning with a public awareness campaign led by Thrive LDN. Dr Jacqui Dyer MBE, mental-health equalities advisor for NHS England and co-lead of Thrive LDN explained that, ‘Navigating bereavement services can be difficult, even if there has been some time after experiencing a loss. There is also a significant lack of bereavement services specifically targeted to the needs of London’s minoritised communities, who have been disproportionately hit by Covid… The launch of citywide programme to support and strengthen London’s bereavement sector is crucial. We must work towards bereaved people having access to support that meets their particular needs, when they need it.’
You can find out more about the Thrive LDN campaign here.
There’s a new festival coming to east London in the autumn and it sounds like a really, really good one.
Body Movements is a celebration of queer club culture and will be held across 16 venues in Hackney Wick on Sat Oct 9. It’s essentially a really big party held by some of the most exciting, progressive and inclusive LGBTQ+ nights in the UK.
Queer techno party Adonis is going to be there. Body inclusive strip club Harpies is throwing a bash. Manchester’s mega party Homoelectric is coming to London for it. Queer Bollywood night Hungama is doing something, Little Gay Brother is doing something, Pxssy Palace is doing something. Even Queer House Party – the virtual club night that started in lockdown – is going IRL for the occasion. There’ll also be 40 queer, non-binary and trans artists performing throughout the day and night.
The event is the brainchild of producer and DJ, Saoirse Ryan and Clayton Wright from Little Gay Brother so it’s sure to be a Grade A party.
Presale tickets go on sale tomorrow on Resident Advisor at 10am tomorrow. General sale is at 10am on Friday. Sign up for the presale here.
I always know I am in for a treat at Bird when I see the wet wipes on the table in with the ketchup, mustard and other sauces. The perfect sign that the food here is going to be messy…
On all my visits I have only ever had the signature dish of, wait for it – are you ready? – fried chicken, bacon, cheese, maple syrup, mayonnaise and – still with me? – house barbecue sauce, all sandwiched between two mega fresh cakey waffles. If you have room for a side, go for the fries drenched in chicken gravy. Divine. Food heaven. And however else an exceptional food experience is described in words.
On my most recent trip to Bird and other occasions as well at this Islington branch, it has never been as stacked with diners as the signature dish, which I find ideal if you plan to visit as a solo eater and want to avoid the usual eateries with couples all tabled up. Since it’s on the main road from Highbury & Islington tube station to Arsenal’s stadium, expect a different and busier experience on a home matchday, although it would certainly take an entertaining game to avoid falling into a food-induced slumber.
To wash it all down, on tap is Bird’s own tasty lager, brewed in collaboration with Big Hug Brewery.
The Tower of London has reopened after lockdown, and a baby raven at the Tower of London has been named Branwen following a public vote.
The winning name was announced as part of the tower’s reopening after its longest closure since the Second World War.
“The results are in! Our new baby raven’s name is … BRANWEN,” @TowerOfLondon tweeted on Wednesday.
“After the deity from Celtic mythology, whose name translates as Blessed Raven,” the tweet continued.
“Thanks to everyone who voted to #NameOurRaven!”
The Tower of London has reopened to the public after its longest closure since the Second World War. The 1,000-year-old fortress unlocked the gates to queues of people, who were able to meet some of the tower’s new ravens.
The public was given five names to choose from – Florence, Matilda, Branwen, Bronte, or Winifred – with each bearing historical significance.
The vote ran from May 4 to May 18.
Branwen’s arrival in March – to parents Huginn and Muninn – is good news for superstitious patriots.
The legend of the ravens says that if the birds leave the tower, the kingdom will fall, with King Charles II thought to be the first monarch to demand the protection of the birds.
Branwen will reside in London with her brother Edgar, who is named after writer Edgar Allan Poe, famous for his poem The Raven, taking the tower’s number of resident ravens to nine.
Yeoman Warder Darren Hardy and Yeoman Serjeant Clive Towell were ready to open the West Door to let in the crowds after lockdown restrictions eased in England this week. The opening of the tourist attraction comes alongside other recreational venues such as cinemas, museums, theatres, and concert halls.