Video: How London Got Its Pavements

By Londonist Last edited 25 months ago
Video: How London Got Its Pavements

London didn't always have pavements. In fact, they didn't come along until the 18th century, when the Speaker of the House of Commons had an embarrassing incident with his coach...

Watch the video to find out more.

Last Updated 27 May 2016

Andrew Zolnai

Love the story about kerbs, but that symbol to me marks an Ordnance Survey survey marker post. I don't know the place, have you heard of OS markers? Keep on posting, Andrew


The "broad arrow" sign wasn't unique to the Admiralty. It first appeared as a marker for property bought from the King's Purse from which Broad Arrow Tower in the Tower of London got its name, being used by the Royal Wardrobe (a sort of medieval ministry of supply) and later taken up by the new Royal Ordinance it came to be a general mark for any government property eventually even the government issue prison uniforms of the late Victorian era.

It's likely that the broad arrow is the origin of the survey bench mark as War Office survey markers had it (again, govt property) and adding the horizontal to an existing engraved mark would have been easy.

To this day the Public Stores Act of 1875 makes it an offence to use the broad arrow on goods without permission.

Bob Brennan

I've seen the broad arrow on equipment in the old dockyard college in Devonport and on a stone outside the seafront pub the Bulman in Kinsale Co.Cork so my bet would be on it being an admiralty mark.

Ken Johnson

It's a bench mark, that is, a point whose height above mean sea level is known to within one hundredth of a foot. Unfortunately road repair workers don't always know what a bench mark is, so they don't put the stones back where they came from, which is why water and yucky stuff are expected to flow uphill beneath certain streets.