Give Peas A Chance: A Disappearing London Landmark

By M@ Last edited 70 months ago

Last Updated 22 August 2018

Give Peas A Chance: A Disappearing London Landmark

Almost every Londoner with a car will recognise this landmark.
Almost every Londoner without a car will not recognise this landmark.

We're looking at the rail bridge that carries the Chiltern Main Line over the M25, between junctions 16 and 17. For non-drivers, that's about 9.30 on the London clockface, not too far from Uxbridge.

Northbound drivers have long chuckled over the enigmatic graffiti daubed across the bridge: 'Give Peas a Chance'. It even has its own Facebook page.

It turns out that the message was written in two sessions, and not by the same person. Here's the view in August 2008, as captured in Google Street View:

The original message 'PEAS' is simply the tag of a prolific graffiti writer, and can be seen on other bridges around London. But by November 2008 (top view), somebody with a different lettering style had garnished the peas with extra words.

For a decade, drivers through this section of the M25 have suddenly found themselves singing a pea-based update to a John Lennon song.

The bridge is doubly curious. It was built between 1902 and 1906, many decades before construction of the M25. As if by design, its arches are exactly the right width to accommodate three-lane motorway in both directions, with a supporting leg in the central reservation.

Sadly, the 'Give PEAS a chance' sign appears to be fading, as our blurry snap above from August 2018 shows. (Image taken from the passenger seat, before you all write in to complain about dangerous driving.)

It will probably fade into obscurity. A case could be made for preserving the sign — surely the most-viewed piece of graffiti in London's history. But to restore the writing would give legitimacy to railway tagging, an illegal and dangerous activity that has claimed many young lives. See it while you can.