Holborn Circus, London

Cutting link with the past will make Circus worse


Photo: London, Holborn Circus, 1890. Courtesy City of London

Holborn Circus, meeting point of six highways, was designed by engineer William Haywood in 1867 as a commanding and visually striking junction. The highways all terminate at the same point – a statue of Prince Albert. This device gives the termination of Holborn Viaduct its visual focus.

Dickens’s Dictionary of London (1879) described Holborn Circus as ‘perhaps.. the finest piece of street architecture in the City’.

Alas, following WW2 damage, many buildings lining the Circus were demolished. The building line was set back, resulting in a vast and windy area unfriendly to pedestrians. The City of London now intends to obliterate the Victorian plan by moving the statue off to the side and blocking one of the roads. This will result in a vast area of tarmac without focus.

We call on the City of London to return to the drawing board and think strategically. The statue should remain at the heart of the Circus and future redevelopment should respect the historic lines of this important piece of townscape.

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