A Map Of Unbuilt London

M@
By M@
A Map Of Unbuilt London
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Imagine if the Thames flowed to docks in Peckham, while its ancient course was reclaimed for cars. Picture London with a mile-high skyscraper, or a pyramid full of corpses on Primrose Hill. Would you have liked to see an airport at King's Cross, or Charing Cross, or Peckham (again)?

This is Unbuilt London — a mirror of our own city full of the crazy, ambitious plans that never got the go-ahead. Glimpse a London in which Soho has been concreted over, where Greenwich lies in the shadow of a gargantuan statue, and in which the Square Mile runs to a grid system. There's even a garden bridge. Two, in fact.

The map shows only a selection of the many unrealised plans for London. Further examples can be found in our tube map of unbuilt London, and on the pages of IanVisits.

Locations on the map in alphabetical order

Abbey Tower (1904): More properly known as the Imperial Monument tower (but it wouldn't fit on the map) — a gargantuan Gothic spire that would have loomed over the Abbey and Palace of Westminster. More info.

Battersea Power Station revamp (2008): Rafael Vinoly, now famed for the Walkie Talkie, proposed a giant energy-generating chimney for Battersea Power Station — one of many plans for the dilapidated station that never came to fruition. More info.

Battle of Britain Monument (1988): Architect Theo Crosby wanted to erect this Victorian-style monument to the Battle of Britain near Surrey Docks. More info.

BBC Television Centre, alternative design (1946): The White City landmark might have looked even more like a clock dial, had this alternative plan come to pass. More info.

The Blob (1985): Looking something like a plug-in air freshener, this peculiar building was destined for Trafalgar Square. It doesn't seem to have had an official name, but IanVisits has dubbed it The Blob. More info.

Central Station (1933): Part of a grand scheme for remodelling London. All the southern mainline stations would have been united in a single mega-station, with rooftop heliport. More info.

Charing Cross Heliport (1951): Proposed at a time when everyone thought the helicopter was the future of commuting. Another airport, for light aircraft, was proposed slightly upstream at Westminster (not shown). More info.

City of London Grid (1666): One of several plans for rebuilding the Square Mile after the Great Fire. This, by Richard Newcourt, would have seen the centre laid out in a tedious grid pattern. More info.

Concrete Soho (1954): Geoffrey Jellicoe was keen to demolish Soho and replace it with a monumental concrete estate. Wouldn't that have made everyone happy? More info.

Crystal 61 (1961): A conference centre the height of the Shard for King's Cross? Why not? More info.

Crystal Palace Tower (1852): After the Great Exhibition of 1851 there was some debate around what to do with the vast structure. One suggestion was to rework the glass and metal frame into a skyscraper taller than the modern Shard. More info.

Crystal Tower Bridge (1943): Various alternative schemes for Tower Bridge can be found online. Our favourite is this wartime suggestion for coating the bridge in glass, art deco style. More info.

Diana Princess of Wales Bridge (1997): Shown but not labelled on the map, this turfed span would have commemorated the late princess, crossing the river where the Millennium Bridge now runs. More info.

Endless City (2014): This proposal from SURE Architecture does have an end, about the same height as the Shard. One mock-up places it in Shoreditch. More info.

Garden Bridge (2013): Thomas Heatherwick's verdant span was not to be. It's unlabelled on the map, but shown as a green crossing to the left of the anchor. More info.

Grand Anchor (1933): How about we fill in the Thames, divert its waters through Peckham, then build a multilane motorway and rail route along its bed? The curved highway would also connect to Central Station (see above) via another wide road running north-south. More info.

Great Victorian Way (1855): Joseph Paxton of Crystal Palace fame imagined a huge looping arcade, roughly following the modern Circle line. More info.

Green Bird (1990): A dildo-shaped tower much loftier than the Shard. Can't imagine why it never got built. More info.

Greenwich Britannia (1799): John Flaxman drew up plans to celebrate Britain's victory at the Battle of the Nile with a giant statue of Britannia on Greenwich Hill. It would have been the country's largest statue, but few people wanted it. A much smaller General Wolfe now stands on the spot. More info.

Inner Motorway (1966): The first plans to drive major roads through central London arrived during the second world war, but the most polished scheme arrived mid-60s. An inner ringroad, called the Motorway Box or Ringway 1, would have obliterated inner suburbs such as Camden Town. Some parts, like the Westway, were constructed, but we were fortunately spared the worst. More info.

King's Cross Airport (1931): Another inner-city airport plan from the days when it seemed we might all possess a light aircraft for commuting. More info.

Mile High Ecotower (2008): London's most ridiculous skyscraper plan would have been home to 100,000 people. Concept images showing it sprouting out of the Square Mile. More info.

Millennium Tower (1996): Norman Foster's initial plans for the Gherkin site would have seen this lumbering beast, comfortably taller than the Shard.

National Monument (1903): A pyramidal monument to the British Empire. One suggested location was Hyde Park. More info.

Peckham Docks (1933): Another facet of plans discussed above (see Grand Anchor and Central Station) would have seen the Thames diverted to an artificial channel that would have replaced Peckham and Camberwell. The eggs/omelette ratio on this one proved far too top-heavy. More info.

Pinnacle (2005): A rather beautiful-looking skyscraper that made it up to seven floors before funding ran out. The Stump, as the part-built tower was known, was later demolished to make way for the awful 22 Bishopsgate development. More here.

Primrose Hill Mausoleum (1820): A behemoth pyramid that would have housed around five million burials. Might have affected the hill's romantic reputation. More here.

Selfridges Tower (1918): Imagine if the department store included a tower the height of Centre Point. That was the plan. More here.

Skyport One (1957): Another prominent heliport, this time for Lambeth. Quite why it needed to be so tall is anyone's guess. More here.

St Paul's Cathedral, alternative design (1666): Christopher Wren's earlier plan for his famous cathedral included a much more prominent spire on top of the dome. Got to say, think we prefer it with the spike. More info.

Straightened Thames (1796): One of several alternative schemes to 'cut the corners' off the Thames to improve shipping times. More info.

Twin London Bridges (1799): London Bridge might have been twins if George Dance had got his way. More info.

Watkin's Tower (1891): A rival to the Eiffel Tower, it was actually partially built on the spot where Wembley Stadium now stands. The structure barely made it to first base before funds ran out, and it was eventually demolished. More info.

Last Updated 16 July 2018