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The A4 used to start in the same place because the A3, at the Monument. Ten years ago strolling the first mile along the A4 would have taken me west along Cannon Street, spherical St Paul’s Cathedral, down Ludgate Hill and up Fleet Road. Writing about this journey might simply have filled a running a blog week all by itself. However that is not the first mile any extra. Terrorist paranoia in town of London has beheaded this particular mile from the route, forcing the A4 to retreat to the sting of the town past a miserable safety checkpoint cordon. And now the good West Road starts somewhere moderately much less glamorous.

Road begins: Holborn Circus
Six roads meet at Holborn Circus, which is now little greater than a glorified roundabout surrounding a statue of Prince Albert trapped within the middle. The brand new route chosen for the A4 follows essentially the most insignificant of those roads, that tiny street within the centre of the photograph squeezed inbetween a department of Lloyds Financial institution to the left and the glass-fronted Sainsbury’s head workplace to the correct. This is New Fetter Lane, which leads earlier than very long to the similarly quiet and narrow Fetter Lane. At the junction of the 2 stands London’s solely cross-eyed statue, a memorial to 18th century libertarian John Wilkes. Right here too are magnificent Gothic buildings which as soon as formed the public Records Workplace but now house the King’s College library. For those who own a replica of Peter Ackroyd’s London – the Biography (especially if you have always been meaning to get around to studying it) you then would possibly enjoy the centuries-previous story of this historic backstreet in Chapter 22.

On the foot of Fetter Lane the A4 turns lastly turns right to hitch its unique path along the western finish of Fleet Avenue. Still world-famend as London’s journalistic heart, the press have lengthy since moved out and the only papers you’ll find in Fleet Road nowadays are sold in a tiny newsagents. This finish of the road, however, has always found more favour with monetary and legal practices. Here you’ll discover Child’s (Britain’s oldest bank, 1661), Hoare’s (London’s solely remaining impartial bank) and a branch of Coutts (the Queen’s financial institution), none of which (inexplicably) has a cashpoint exterior. A magic timbered portal on the south aspect leads by to the Temple, where the country’s prime authorized minds scurry spherical a maze of historical passages and courtyards looking for the perfect argument. And reverse the entrance, stone island black jumper standing guard in the course of the highway, stands the dragon that acts as a alternative for Temple Bar (about which I’ve already written far an excessive Stone Island T-Shirts amount of). It might not look as impressive as its arched predecessor, but a minimum of visitors can get past it.

After Temple Bar Fleet Avenue metamorphoses into the Strand, named after the foreshore of the River Thames which once lapped nearer than it does in the present day. Benjamin Disraeli described the Strand’s heady mix of palaces, motels and playhouses as ‘perhaps the finest avenue in Europe’, though a lot of the gloss has been lost since then. At the top end of the highway is the coffee house the place Thomas Twining established his first teashop, and in addition the Strand’s most well-known theatre – the Royal Courts of Justice. Next, alongside Aldwych, the A4 passes three well-known homes – Australia House (your portal to Down Below), Bush House (BBC global HQ) and the monumental Somerset Home (as soon as residence to the final Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages but now more well-known for its winter ice rink – closes Sunday).

Strand’s most well-identified stretch leads from Aldwych right down to Trafalgar Sq. along a bustling boulevard packed by theatre-goers and vacationers. There is a raised cobbled strip down the centre of the highway that almost all pedestrians use as an elongated site visitors island, but I took this path to complete my journey. This kept me away from the restaurants, the purple telephone packing containers and the lodge foyers, and a secure distance from the cell phone shops, the bewildered foreigners and the Starbucks clones. I averted the demonstrations outside the Zimbabwean embassy, resisted the charms of Stanley Gibbons the stamp supplier and bypassed the Savoy Resort at the top of a tiny cul-de-sac (the one road in the UK the place visitors drives on the correct). However most of all I mourned the passing of the magnificent mansions that once lined this historic avenue.

Mile ends: Charing Cross
The top of my journey was additionally the ultimate resting place of Queen Eleanor of Castile. She died while on royal walkabout in Lincolnshire in 1290, and a grieving Edward I had a cross erected at every of the 12 places where his wife’s coffin rested on the long journey residence to London. Seven centuries later just three Eleanor Crosses stay but alas the monument at Charing Cross shouldn’t be quite one in all them, being merely a stone replica erected in 1863.

Stone Island Sweatshirt RubyOk, so the first mile of the new A4 does look like at least as fascinating as the original. And the second mile’s even better, persevering with from Trafalgar Square to pass alongside Pall Mall and Piccadilly (which I’ve already spent a whole month writing about). Of all of the capital’s major trunk roads, it’s the A4 that will get off to the most effective begin.

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