Hidden London

Westway

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Westminster/Kensington & Chelsea/Hammersmith & Fulham

Part of the A40 dual carriageway stretching from East Acton to Paddington. The term is generally used to refer to the 2-mile elevated section that connects White City with Marylebone Road. Begun in 1964, the Westway was conceived as a solution for congestion caused by the absence of a link between Central London and the interwar-built Western Avenue. The Greater London Council forced this state-of-the-art highway through the North Kensington area amidst allegations of Soviet-style disregard for effects on the local population. Angry protests greeted Michael Heseltine when he opened the Westway in July 1970 and the GLC was forced to rehouse some adjacent residents. Beneath its span the Westway Project added artistic embellishments and the North Kensington Amenity Trust (later the Westway Development Trust) helped establish leisure and cultural amenities, although some of its activities have been questioned.

The Westway’s bleak underbelly has frequently featured as a film and pop video location, and punk rockers the Clash and the Jam employed Westway imagery. Westway was the title of a long-running radio soap opera broadcast on BBC World Service and BBC7. The story focused on a health centre in the fictional Westgrove Park, a locality evidently associated with Westbourne Grove and Westbourne Park. The Westway provides the setting for JG Ballard’s novel Concrete Island. Elswehere, Ballard compared the Westway with Cambodia’s temple city Angkor Wat, calling it “a stone dream that will never awake.”

click for area map (opens in a new window)
The Westway swings out over the Grand Union Canal. Trellick Tower looms in the distance.

Postal districts: W2, W10 and W12

BBC World Service's Westway soap opera

Brewer's London Phrase & Fable

 
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