Slow Summer | Secret London Beneath Our Feet

Grill in the middle of Charing Cross Road

It doesn’t matter how long I have lived in London for, I know that there is always something new to discover. And I particularly enjoy it when I learn about something that is supposedly hidden right under my feet. 🙂

The Boy and I had come in search of a supposed underground street that is reputed to be visible through a grille on a tiny island in the centre of Charing Cross Road, near Old Compton Street, in Soho. The road sign is tricky to photograph and I was in fear of dropping my ‘phone the whole time. The Boy thought I was bonkers.

Little Compton Street did exist once. It was obliterated in 1886, when the Metropolitan Board of Works demolished it and its surroundings, in order to drive Charing Cross Road through one of Victorian London’s most notorious slum districts to create a connecting link between Trafalgar Square and Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road.

But is there an actual subterranean street beneath the grill? Well, to put it simply, no, there isn’t. In reality, the so-called street is actually part of a subway network built beneath Charing Cross Road to carry utilities and minimise disruption to the new road when repairs needed to be carried out. The Little Compton Street signs acted as markers so workers knew where they were without having to surface from the tunnels.

The idea of a subterranean street beneath the grill is quite appealing to me though, even if the only living things down there are London’s population of rats and mice.

4 thoughts on “Slow Summer | Secret London Beneath Our Feet

  1. Isn’t it surprising what is hidden away beneath our feet? When P worked for a property developer in the city he worked on some incredibly interesting buildings and learned so much about their historical importance. I think probably the most interesting discovery was the Temple of Mithras. It is so important to document these places before they disappear into the basement of some new building.

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  2. Glad you did not loose your phone in capturing those photos. Interesting history. I read about the Temple of Mithras that Deb mentions. A few months back I discovered that in London there are buildings that have windows that are not allowed to have bigger buildings built to block out their natural light, it’s a law written to protect the residents & the building; “Right to Light” is a stipulation that falls under the Ancient Lights law. London is SO cool.

    Liked by 1 person

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