Opinion

Are These London's Worst Steps?

M@
By M@ Last edited 6 months ago
Are These London's Worst Steps?
Some horrible, diagonally poised steps which would be awful for anyone with mobility of vision problems

OK, hands up if you've ever had trouble with this particular aberration.

Yup, the diagonal flight that takes you down to the riverside, on the south-east corner of London Bridge.

I've found these steps alarming for decades. They're far too narrow, and the jaunty angle doesn't half muck about with my proprioception.

I'm not one to moan about stuff, and there are, of course, bigger problems in the world. But these granite bastards have pushed me over the edge, almost literally.

They're awful. I've timidly picked my way down them once too often. And I know I'm not alone. I'm flagging this up now after I overheard an elderly couple debating whether to descend. They decided not to — it looked too risky.

Then, by coincidence, Londonist friend Tim Dunn said this:

He's usually such a mild-mannered chap, too. Clearly, there's something about these steps that rankles. I'm lucky enough to not suffer any mobility issues or problems with my vision, but the steps must be a nightmare for those who do — or anyone carrying a child.

Even the Google Street View photographer seems to have had problems. Judging by this capture, the steps  unfolded into outrageous new dimensions upon their visit. Escher does Inception.

THe horrid London Bridge steps as seen in Street View, with weird distortions that can't be described in two-dimensional words

There are other options. You could take the perfectly serviceable (if historically dubious) "Nancy's Steps" on the west side of the bridge, which take you down to Tooley Street. Or you could go the long way round via Duke Street Hill. Both are likely to become more problematic soon thanks to the major redevelopment of Colechurch House.

But the red granite steps are the most direct and visible route down to the Thames path, and they're not up to scratch. Happily, there's an excellent template just across the river, where this spiral staircase was installed in 2016. How about a copy/paste of that design onto the south bank?  

Are these truly the worst steps in London? Nominate other aberrations in the comments below.

Last Updated 06 June 2022

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