|To:||London Wall (TQ327815)|
|Distance:||4.5 miles (7.2 km)|
|Meets:||A5, A4209, A4205, A404, A40, B507, A41, A4201, A400, A4200, B504, A5202, A5200, A5203, A201, A1, A401, B144, A1200, A5201, B100, A1211|
|Route outline (key)|
Part of London's Inner Ring Road, the A501 starts at Paddington and runs past a number of main railway stations before ending in the City.
Roure: Paddington – London Wall
The A501 starts at a junction with the A5, as Chapel Street, a continuation of the A4209 Praed Street coming across from Paddington station, and follows the line of the Circle Line (the original Metropolitan Railway) past Edgware Road station. This is part of the Inner Ring Road. (The westbound A501, Old Marylebone Road, forms the boundary of the Congestion Charge Zone).
East of the station the roads merge to form a two-way part of Old Marylebone Road, which then meets Marylebone Road itself a little to the east of the Marylebone flyover, which carries the A40 over the A5 Edgware Road. We now join the Marylebone Road itself, near Marylebone Station, by turning right at traffic lights.
Crossing Gloucester Place and Baker Street, which together form the A41 (north and southbound), we pass Baker Street station and Madame Tussaud's waxworks. Regent's Park is next on the left, and so we arrive at the junction with Great Portland Street, where the A501 becomes the Euston Road. The Euston Underpass takes us under the Hampstead Road (A400) and on past Euston station, the functional 1960s structure that replaced the awkward but stylish original from the 1830s. Fortunately, St Pancras, which is next, did not suffer a similar fate, but, nevertheless has undergone drastic reconstruction behind the ornate preserved façade (built as a hotel and now is one once more) to accommodate Eurostar services. The design of St Pancras was reputedly intended for the Foreign Office, but the Government rejected it so the architect offered it to the Midland Railway instead. Just before St Pancras is the modern British Library building. Kings Cross station is in marked contrast to St Pancras in style, with a minimalist but tidy approach, with no attempt to disguise the shape of the arched roofs behind the façade.
Kings Cross, named after a statue of William IV removed to make way for the station, marks the end of the dual-carriageway section Euston Road , as the road now goes up the hill, as Pentonville Road, to the Angel at Islington - a sequence familiar to Monopoly players. Like the statue at Kings Cross, the pub that gave this junction its name is also long gone. We cross the A1 (which is itself in a one-way system) here, and set off down the City Road (as in "Pop Goes the Weasel") to cross Old Street at a roundabout. Here we turn south, entering the Congestion Charge Zone that we have so far been skirting, towards Moorgate, passing Finsbury Square. (The better-known Finsbury Park is nowhere near the ancient borough of Finsbury, which is the area we have just skirted between here and Kings Cross).
The A501 now stops at the point where Moorgate meets London Wall - the anti-terrorist "Ring of Steel" discouraging traffic from entering the City itself - plus ça change - but originally (or at least once classified roads were allowed into the City) it continued along Princes Street to the very hub of the English road numbering system, the Bank of England, where it met the A10, A11, A3, A3211 and A40.
A road full of transport history - this traces the route of London's first bus route, and also its first Underground railway.
In the 1820s the line of the Marylebone and Euston Roads marked the limit of the "Stones", the area within which Hackney Carriages had a monopoly on plying for hire, and essentially the edge of metropolitan London. Thus it was that George Shillibeer, keen to introduce the Parisian idea of omnibus travel to London in 1829, chose a route skirting the edge of the area. When the railways came in the 1830s, the same limitation was placed on them, so that we have to this day the line of five mainline termini along the Marylebone and Euston Roads, from Paddington to Kings Cross. And so, in the 1860s, it was also the obvious route for the Metropolitan Railway to be built, to connect them all to each other and to the City. The line was built by digging up the road, putting the railway in, and then roofing it over. The result was an unusually wide thoroughfare for central London.
Even now, it is a significant boundary, as it forms part of the Inner Ring Road which defines the edge of the Congestion Charge Zone.
|Image||Name||Classified Road(s)||Grid Reference||More Info||Map|
|Marylebone Flyover||A5 / A40 / A404||TQ270817|| |
|Baker Street||A41||TQ277820|| |
|Euston Underpass||A400||TQ292823|| |
|Kings Cross||A201 / A5200 / A5203||TQ304829|| |
|Angel||A1 / A401||TQ314831|| |
|Old Street Roundabout||A5201||TQ327824|| |
|Bank||TQ326811||The hub of the English Road network and original end of the A501|| |