The Mystery Of The Town That Was Painted Red

By M@ Last edited 148 months ago
The Mystery Of The Town That Was Painted Red
red pic.jpg

There’s a thin line between genius and madness, and we think we’ve just found it. Anyone who’s been into central London over the past few days may have noticed a seemingly endless red line wending along the pavements of WC1 and WC2, like the aftermath of some giant menstrual snail. On and on it goes for well over two miles. And so did we, in search of answers.

The line begins at an anonymous looking bus stop close to Kings Cross. In fact, the trail starts (or ends) suspiciously close to Camden Council’s headquarters on Judd Street. Could the line be the result of a particularly merry New Year’s party at the Camden street markings department? Beats photocopying your buttocks.

As further evidence, the line appears to have been applied by machine, given the constant thickness. So, Suspect A is Camden Council, who have access to the necessary equipment.

The line continues down Euston Road, along Tottenham Court Road and on through parts of Covent Garden. From here, the mysterious stripe passes the Masonic Grand Lodge on Great Queen Street, and Aleister Crowley’s old gaff on Chancery Lane.

So, Suspect B is some kind of pagan acolyte seeking to turn the streets into a ritualistic canvas. Or something.

red route.JPG

After Chancery Lane, the stripe enrouges the Strand before heading down Surrey Street towards the river. Here it does something really curious: it runs right up to that block over Temple Tube and halts. Only to restart again round the other side, next to the Walkabout. It then crosses the Embankment and stops once and for all at the Thames wall. There’s no trace of a continuation on the other side of the river, alas.

Strange stuff, indeed. Suspect C, and perhaps the most likely, then, is a street ‘artist’ a la Banksy or Tox, deciding to literally paint the town red.

Artistic prankster? Drunken council worker? We’ve no idea, really, who or what is behind this latest addition to London’s streetscape, so we want to know your theories. Given that the line never besmirches her majesty’s highways, instead stopping on one side of a crossing and restarting on the other, we’re inclined to believe this is some kind of official marking, perhaps for a cable or an upcoming race route.

But, until the culprit is caught very-much red-handed, we’ll never know.

Thanks to Terminates Here for the tip off.

Last Updated 09 January 2006


Surely Banksy is the most likely candidate, seeing as he was responsible for the long, wiggly white line of paint that runs down by the riverside...


About six months ago there was another red line along Clerkenwell Road (I didn't follow it so I don't know where it went) that seemingly went forever. It was thin and painted by, I'm guessing, filling up a ketchup tube and squeezing it as you walk.


There was another red line in exactly the same place about two months ago - if you look carefully you can see the very faded line in almost the same place - we've been wondering about it here too!

shanty bradford

i walked the line on the 9th which i noticed while waiting for my sister to finish her lnat in holborn. hoped it would be bansky after checking out his book over the holidays...


The line was on BBC London News last night, but today Camden Council employees are busily trying to remove it from in front of UCLH.


Couldn't this be by the same person that painted a line that surrounded spitalfields about a year ago?

I did always want to follow it to see where it would lead me...


We just came back from the line, followed it from near tot. court up to euston and sat at the end for a while. came back and googled for info about it. even if the line is just the handywork of some drunk council workers it had us guessing the whole time. i want more lines...


the line was drawn at night and is in connection with some sort of terrorist attack.

Laura Kelly Anderson

Its a weird one but i've heard some rumours it may be a stunt by 'red stripe' beer!! Its just a rumour but it would make sense?!


Ooo, that's an interesting idea, Laura. It's surely illegal, though, so it seems unlikely.

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Has anyone seen the new line that runs along Pentonville Road, Amwell Street and then past Mount Pleasant sorting office? Is this the same person? Or a copycat terrorist?

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Banksy article in Independent today reminded me of this line. What was amazing was how precisely it would stop at a curb and then pick up again - to the millimetre it seemed. Eight years on and I still ponder the line from time to time while walking up TCR.