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A new chapter for Tottenham Court Road

One of the capital’s most well-known thoroughfares, a new chapter is about to begin in the history of Tottenham Court Road

02 January, 2018 — By Helen Chapman

An artist’s impression of the new-look Tottenham Court Road

IT is one of London’s most famous roads, chatted about by Eliza Doolittle as the place she sold flowers in the classic musical My Fair Lady, the street where Sherlock Holmes bought a violin in Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective stories and the backdrop for a grisly scene in An American Werewolf In London.

The Kinks and The Pogues sang about it, Hogarth painted it, but for a long while most of us simply knew Tottenham Court Road as somewhere to shop for cheap electronic goods… as long as we were good at bartering.

Now, a new chapter awaits for the road linking Euston to the West End with the impending arrival of the Elizabeth line and Crossrail at its station next to Centre Point, due to be operational next year.

An extra 50,000 people a day will pass through the station and find a revamped Tottenham Court Road, with the road to be reserved for buses and bicycles.

Tottenham Court Road looking down Oxford Street, c1880

Broader pavements will allow visitors to enjoy the wider range of shops and businesses that have moved in, including top furniture and household stores.

Fiona Green, a writer who lived in Fitzrovia nearly her whole life, knows how Tottenham Court Road has played such an important part in central London’s history.

“I saw Pink Floyd play in the basement of the UFO Theatre on Tottenham Court Road in 1962,” she said. “It’s where they played their first gig. We used to go down there and dance in the nude and paint each other with DayGlo paint.”

She added: “We used to sing outside The Hope pub in Tottenham Street and have May Day dances there too. We had milk bottles delivered to us and my children used to play football in Tottenham Street – things I cannot imagine happening now.”

Lee Lyons

The continuing transformation of the area, however, has been welcomed at the Town Hall. The council has announced plans with The Fitzrovia Partnership to reserve the road for buses and bicycles only during daylight hours from Monday to Saturday. The new strategy, named as the West End Project, will introduce two-way streets to replace the current one-way system, some protected cycle lanes and a new public space. The project is ahead of the opening of the Crossrail station, which will move people quickly into the heart of London, making the West End even more accessible.

The Fitzrovia Partnership is a Business Improvement District, an elected body that represents the interests of more than 350 local businesses, helping to shape change in Fitzrovia for the benefit of those who work, live and visit.

Chief operating officer at the Fitzrovia Partnership, Lee Lyons, said: “We’re very excited about the regeneration of Tottenham Court Road in preparation for the opening of the new Elizabeth line. It brings with it new flagship stores and restaurants, new world-class medical facilities as well as a safe and inviting area for workers, residents and visitors.”

Councillor Adam Harrison, Cabinet Member for Improving Camden’s Environment, added: “2018 will be one of the most important years in the history of Tottenham Court Road. The West End Project is set to make the area safer, greener and more attractive for everyone, boosting business and creating new public spaces for residents, local workers and visitors to enjoy.”


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