Aldgate One-Way System
|Aldgate One-Way System|
|Location Map ( geo)|
|Tower Hill and Whitechapel, East London|
|Transport for London|
|A11, A13, A100, A1202, A1203, A1211, A3211, B126|
|Junctions related to the A11|
Fiveways Roundabout (Mildenhall) • Green Man Roundabout • Bank • Bow Interchange • Waterhall Interchange • Epping Interchange • Thickthorn Interchange • Nine Mile Hill • Stump Cross Interchange • Fourwentways • Pampisford Interchange • Red Lodge Interchange • Brandon Road Roundabout • Mundford Road Roundabout • Croxton Road Junction • Larling Interchange • Snetterton Interchange • Stone Cross Interchange • Ellingham Road Interchange • Besthorpe Interchange • Spooner Row Interchange • Browick Interchange • Tuttles Lane Interchange • Stratford Broadway Interchange • Wake Arms Roundabout • Robin Hood Roundabout (Epping Forest) • Gates Corner • Round House Roundabout • Charterhouse Junction
A large area immediately east of the City of London, from Tower Bridge up to Aldgate and Whitechapel, is home to the sprawling psychological experiment that is known as the Aldgate One-Way System. London is full of examples of one-way systems installed to extract better efficiency from the street network, but nowhere has that thinking been applied with such absolute, bloody-minded efficiency as here. In the recent past Transport for London removed some parts of it, returning Whitechapel High Street to two-way running, but in so doing, discovered that it's rather like removing the limb of some mythical beast. You can't destroy the Aldgate One-Way System. You can only make it more complicated.
This is a very complex and busy area for traffic movements, of course: it's just outside the City boundaries, which means that people trying to get somewhere, who don't want to get caught up in the narrow alleyways of the City of London, are all diverting around this way. It's part of the Inner Ring Road, it's the point where all roads east converge on the City, and it's the end of the fast east-west route along the river.
Outline of the system
It begins - if one might naively consider it to have a beginning or an end - with a signalised gyratory surrounding Aldgate tube station, which is entirely part of the A1211. The A11 terminates here. East from this there used to be another matching gyratory, interlinked where Mansell Street meets Aldgate, but this has now been dismantled, closing Braham Street to through traffic. Whitechapel High Street now runs two-way eastward from the first gyratory, on which are three T-junctions: one carrying northbound traffic, which terminates here; one with two-way Ring Road traffic from the north; and one where a southbound route begins.
The complementary northbound and southbound routes are classified A1211 and A1202 respectively and together form part of the Inner Ring Road. At Prescot Street, northbound traffic heads east directly towards southbound traffic which is heading west, and the two streams bounce off each other again. To the west, Minories provides a second southbound path for those wishing to take a shortcut from the first gyratory. This has the interesting effect that the primary northbound A1211 runs to the right of the non-primary southbound A1211, and Goodman's Yard - which flows eastbound only - carries both northbound and southbound A1211 traffic.
Both halves of the Inner Ring Road are now on the A1211, which runs as two one-way streets again under the railway line from Fenchurch Street and arrives at the Tower Hill junction. This is more or less the bottom half of a roundabout, but with numerous signalised wrong-way paths to allow, for example, traffic from Tower Bridge to come up through the junction and make a right turn into the B126 Royal Mint Street.
Within this already complex system, there are other one-way streets as well, which join and leave the system more or less of their own accord.
Removal of the Eastern Gyratory
The eastern gyratory (comprising sections of Whitechapel High Street, Braham Street, Commercial Road and Mansell Street) was removed by TfL during 2008. The scheme was funded by a developer and comprised two main phases, namely removal of the one-way system, and conversion of part of the redundant section of Braham Street to a new park.
The one-way system was removed during 2008. Braham Street was to be closed to all vehicles, which meant that sections of Commercial Road and Whitechapel High Street had to be converted to two way operation. To achieve this, two traffic signalled junctions were re-built to suit the new layout (Whitechapel High Street junctions with Commercial Street and Commercial Road) and a new traffic signal junction provided at the junction of Whitechapel High Street, Aldgate High Street, Mansell Street and Middlesex Street. The opportunity was taken to provide new street level pedestrian crossings at the Mansell Street junction - the other two junctions already had pedestrian facilities).
Finally, a new link was required between Whitechapel High Street and Leman Street - this was built broadly along the line of the old Colchester Street. (Historic Maps show that this section had been known as Leman Street prior to the gyratory being built in the 1960s.)
Two-way traffic was reintroduced on Whitechapel High Street on Sunday 14th September 2008, for the first time in over 40 years. At the same time, Braham Street was permanently closed to traffic.
In 2009, work began to convert the western section of Braham Street to a public park. This was one of Mayor Ken Livingstone's 100 open spaces projects in London, but has subsequntly been endorsed by Mayor Boris Johnson, who opened the new park in March 2010. The Aldgate gyratory now forms the western end of the High Street 2012 project.
Typical journeys through the area
For the full thrill of this area, let's take a drive around it. Even the most simple maneouvre becomes rather complex.
Inner Ring Road southbound
One of the most heavily-used journeys through this system, and entirely primary. Previously, this involved a trip around the eastern half of the former gyratory (via Whitechapel High Street, Commercial Road and Braham Street, before turning left into Leman Street to continue the journey south.
Now this journey is simplicity itself:
- Continue straight on from Commercial Street into a new section of Leman Street, built broadly along the line of Colchester Street) and, just keep going straight.
- Cross the former line of Braham Street, and carry straight on into the original section of Leman Street.
- Turn right into A1202 Prescot Street. The road ahead is also A1202, but you don't want to go that way. On this section you are facing northbound Ring Road traffic head on, and the two streams narrowly avoid colliding at a crossroads just ahead.
- Turn left into A1211 Mansell Street, then keep straight on to Tower Bridge.
A1211 to Scarborough Street
Enter from the north and reach the large complex of buildings in the middle of the system. Easy, right?
- Join the Aldgate gyratory, travel around it 180-degrees and exit to A1211 Minories.
- Turn left into A1211 Goodman's Yard.
- Keep left on the weaving section and turn left again into A1211 Mansell Street.
- Keep right and then turn right into B134 Alie Street. (You are now within sight of the Aldgate gyratory again.)
- Turn right into St Mark Street, which leads to Scarborough Street.
|Chelmsford, Stratford, Stansted Airport (M11), Bow, Whitechapel|
|Tilbury, City Airport, Blackwall Tunnel, Docklands, Royal Docks, Isle of Dogs, Canary Wharf|
|Ring road (A2, A3, A4), Peckham, Tower Bridge|
|Ring Road (N), (A10, A1), The City, Dalston, West End|
|Docklands, City Airport|
|The City, Barbican||Congestion Charge Applies|
|Westminster, Southwark Bridge||Congestion Charge Applies|