Charing Cross Road

Charing Cross Road, London, looking north from its junction with Cranbourn Street

Charing Cross Road is a street in central London running immediately north of St Martin-in-the-Fields to St Giles Circus (the intersection with Oxford Street) and then becomes Tottenham Court Road. It is so called because it leads from the north in the direction of Charing Cross at the south side of Trafalgar Square, which it connects via St Martin's Place and the motorised east side of the square.

History

What is now Charing Cross road was originally two narrow streets in the West End, Crown Street and Castle Street. The development of Regent Street (parallel to the west) in the mid-18th century coincided with not only the building up of great fields west of the area but also Westminster Bridge which was built as central London and the wider estuary's second bridge after more than a century of pressure, in 1750.

These pressures therefore congested the north-south axis of the inner West End almost as much as the relieved London Bridge area. Specifically a major increase in traffic occurred around Piccadilly Circus, Charing Cross and Oxford Street, much of it destined from/to Tottenham Court Road, Bloomsbury and nearby routes to all northerly directions.

Charing Cross Road was therefore developed, in conjunction with Shaftesbury Avenue, by the Metropolitan Board of Works under an 1877 Act of Parliament.[1] The Act's total costs, including demolition and rebuilding of many rows of buildings across London was £778,238. The two streets and others such as the Thames Embankment, Northumberland Avenue and the Kingsway-Aldwych superstructure were built to improve traffic flow through central London.[2] The scheme abolished some of the worst slums in London which delayed progress in construction while they were rehoused.[1]