City of London Pedway Scheme
The City of London Pedway Scheme is a partial elevated pedway that evolved out of a plan to transform traffic flows in the City of London by separating pedestrians from street level traffic using elevated walkways. First devised as part of the post World War II reconstruction plans for London, it was put into effect mainly from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s and eventually abandoned by the 1980s.
Versions of the plan had been under consideration since the 19th century, and given shape by the German Bauhaus movement, but the scheme was only given impetus in London after World War II, during which London had suffered severe bomb damage. Enthusiasts for the scheme saw an opportunity to put it into practice through the post-war reconstruction programme, and in 1947 architect Charles Holden and planner William Holford developed a blueprint that envisaged a network of first-floor walkways that would connect buildings across the City.
By the mid-1960s, the City of London Corporation had incorporated the scheme into its development plan. Although no coherent network was ever defined, designers of new developments were required to incorporate first-floor access to the Pedway network as a condition of being granted planning consent. As most of the network had not been built, this meant that many developments incorporated unused "dead space" at first-floor level and partial walkways that led to dead ends. In consequence, the scheme was unpopular with many architects.
Buildings that were required to incorporate links to the Pedway included the National Westminster Tower, which incorporated a pedestrian bridge across Bishopsgate that was never used and is now demolished; the Commercial Union building, the Barbican, and Draper's Gardens.
By the mid-1980s, the scheme had effectively been discontinued. The reason for its ultimate demise were escalating costs and the increase in influence of the conservation lobby, which opposed the extensive redevelopment of the historic areas of the City. The Pedway scheme only succeeded in establishing itself in areas that required extensive post-war reconstruction. The most extensive part of the network to be completed was in the Barbican Estate and surrounding streets; the main entrance to the Museum of London is, to this day, at first-floor level.
Pedways in other places
Pedways (and pedestrian tunnels) have been more successfully implemented in other parts of the world especially where fully enclosed connections allow year-round use even during inclement weather. They are sometimes called skyways. Examples include Hong Kong, providing protection from heat and humidity and Toronto, Calgary and Minneapolis, providing protection from cold.
- This documentary about the City of London Pedway Scheme, The Pedway: Elevating London, was made in 2013 by filmmaker Chris Bevan Lee.