Kingsway, London

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Kingsway London.jpg

Kingsway is a major road in central London, designated as part of the A4200. It runs from High Holborn, at its north end in the London Borough of Camden, and meets Aldwych in the south in the City of Westminster at Bush House. It was built in the 1900s. Together Kingsway and Aldwych form one of the major north-south routes through central London linking the ancient east-west routes of High Holborn and Strand.


Map showing proposed route, ca. 1900

The road was purpose-built as part of a major redevelopment of the area in the 1900s. Its route cleared away the maze of small streets in Holborn such as Little Queen Street and the surrounding slum dwellings. However Holy Trinity Church, which was built in Little Queen Street was spared, whereas the Sardinian Embassy Chapel, an important Roman Catholic church attached to the Embassy of the Kingdom of Sardinia, was demolished to make way for the new street.

Plans were published by London County Council in 1898 and the road was formally opened in 1905. It is one of the broadest streets in central London at 100 feet (30 m) wide. There were several proposed names for the new street, including King Edward VII Street, Empire Avenue, Imperial Avenue and Connecticut Avenue. The name "Kingsway" was in honour of King Edward VII, who opened the street.[1]

It was unique in containing below it a tunnel for a tramway, which started just north of Southampton Row, passed beneath Aldwych and continued to the Thames Embankment: this Kingsway tramway subway joined the North and South London tram systems. In 1958 the disused tunnel was reopened at the southern end to make a new connection, the Strand Underpass, for light traffic between Waterloo Bridge and Kingsway in order to reduce congestion. Also beneath Kingsway was a branch of the Piccadilly tube line from Holborn to Aldwych. It is now closed with no service but the platform at Holborn used for the branch is used for television and film sets that require underground scenes. During the Second World War the branch was used to store art treasures from the British Museum, including the Elgin Marbles.[2]

On 1 April 2015, electrical cables under the pavement in Kingsway caught fire, leading to serious disruption in central London. The fire continued for the next two days, with flames shooting out of a manhole cover from a burst gas main,[3] before being extinguished.[4] Several thousand people were evacuated from nearby offices, and several theatres cancelled performances.[5][3][6] There was also substantial disruption to telecoms infrastructure.[7] On 8 April, press reports emerged stating that the fire may have been started as part of the 2015 Hatton Garden burglary.[8]



The original buildings were built between 1903 and 1905. They were mostly mid-rises in stone, and in various styles including neoclassical and neo-Baroque. Many survive but some have been replaced. Notable buildings include:


Kingsway tram tunnel entrance in Southampton Row

The closest tube stations are Holborn, and Temple (and formerly Aldwych, which closed in 1994).

As part of the redevelopment a tram tunnel was built underneath the road. The trams ceased to run in the mid 20th century and since 1961 the southern end of the tunnel has been used by cars under the name of the Strand Underpass. The northern entrance to the tunnel still exists (with its tram lines still in situ, see image right) and can be found at the junction of Southampton Row and Vernon Place.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Weinreb, Ben and Hibbert, Christopher (1992). The London Encyclopaedia (reprint ed.). Macmillan. pp. 450–451. 
  2. ^ Glover, John (1999). London's Underground. Hersham, England: Ian Allen. ISBN 0-7110-2636-X. 
  3. ^ a b "Holborn electrical fire causes mass evacuation". BBC News. Retrieved 2 April 2015. 
  4. ^ "Holborn underground fire extinguished". BBC News. 3 April 2015. Retrieved 4 April 2015. 
  5. ^ "Holborn fire costs London firms £40m: Full scale of damage and disruption revealed". The Standard. Retrieved 2 April 2015. 
  6. ^ O'Connor, Roisin. "Holborn fire: Kingsway remains closed as firefighters continue to tackle blaze burning under pavement in central London". The Independent. Retrieved 2 April 2015. 
  7. ^ Alex Scroxton (2 April 2015). "Kingsway fire brings down broadband services in London". Computerweekly. Retrieved 4 April 2015. 
  8. ^ Rachel Blundy and Sebastian Mann (2015-04-08). "Holborn fire 'could have been deliberately started by burglars responsible for Hatton Garden jewel heist'". Evening Standard. 
  9. ^ King's College London – Woolf honoured by new building (Accessed 4 June 2013)


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°30′55.2″N 0°07′08.2″W / 51.515333°N 0.118944°W / 51.515333; -0.118944