A tribute to the capital’s alleys, ginnels and snickleways.
36. Marble Arch Underpass
Where? It's an underpass. It passes under Marble Arch. Like, dur.
What? This haphazard collection of tunnels was constructed in the early 1960s, to improve pedestrian access to Hyde Park.
It’s a choice of two evils – brave the heavy traffic or plunge into the depths. We asked an aged and wise hermit on the corner of Edgware Road for advice. “Seek ye the Park? Yeargh, the route through yon Marble Arch and across the Cumberland Gate is a long, treacherous one. Few make it alive. But there is another way. Yes, yes. You must go below ground – into the 12-headed labyrinth of despair. Tales are told – mostly by me – of the poor shuffling beasts, who descended into these catacombs and never returned. Beware ye, beware.”
He was talking nonsense, of course. The passages are tiled in miserable grey mosaic and smell a bit, but never feel dangerous in the way Aldgate or Elephant underpasses can. Still, as Simon Crubellier observes, “almost all the security cameras in the underpasses at Marble Arch have been nicked”.
Why use? Remind yourself that, despite all our shiny new buildings, London is still riddled with concrete unpleasantness. Oh, and get to the park more easily.
See each and every one of our back passages mapped: