MT 106/225

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Trafalgar Square Precinct: pedestrianisation, underpass, relief road and other proposals

Date range1963-1971
LocationNational Archives (see all files stored here)
CatalogueSee entry
File baseSeries MT, subseries MT 106

Context

Yes, I know, this does sound promisingly like it's going to be about some wacky scheme for Trafalgar Square, but it's slightly more mundane than that. There was an aspiration in the late 1950s and early 1960s, originating in the LCC but very much favoured by the Ministry of Works, to pedestrianise or part-pedestrianise Trafalgar Square. The issue was where to put the large volumes of traffic that passed through.

The beginning of work to use bomb-damaged land on the north side of the Square to extend the National Gallery caused this matter to come to a head, because it turned out the car park they wanted to build on (and which was owned by the MW) was also earmarked for a new road link that would allow traffic to go around the north side of the National Gallery and so enable pedestrianisation of part of the Square.

An almighty row ensued, into which the relevant Ministers and people at all levels of the MOT, MW and GLC became embroiled. This file is, in the main, the flurry of correspondence that came about from two Government departments having entirely conflicting policies over this one small West End car park.

There is also a diverting letter from someone proposing an east-west underpass below the square, which would actually have descended through the middle of the square, thus spoiling the thing it was trying to save. The MOT was not hugely taken with the idea and did not invite him in for a chat.

People with camera copies

Chris Marshall has a partial copy.