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Save Our Subways Save Our Subways Campaigning to improve not destroy Elephant and Castle's safest fastest footpaths No Bigger Ring Road
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The Risk

Some of the pedestrian subways at Elephant and Castle have already gone. These were beneath the southern roundabout. They were never as busy as the subways beneath the remaining north roundabout and they were never renovated with bright tiles and murals. Their survival was never fought for. We must not assume that the reasons behind their removal can be applied to the subways that remain.

There have been pedestrian subways at the Elephant & Castle for over 100 years. The first were built in 1911 at the southern end of St George's Road. In 1959 two networks of new pedestrian subways were built as part of the major reorientation of all the roads passing through the area. At this time there was no shared space between pedestrians and motorists. All "foot traffic" was directed underground beneath two roundabouts, north west and south of the west of the shopping centre.

In the 1990s the north roundabout was modified to include surface level crossings at the London Road and New Kent Road end and portions of the subways were refreshed with colourful new tiles and murals painted by David Bratby between 1991 and 1994. Meanwhile the less popuar subways beneath the south roundabout were left in their original state, the old pale grey mosaic tiles and pebble dashed slabs were stained with neglect and became particularly uninviting to pedestrians. Their brief use as a gallery during Elefest 2008 was a brief glimpse of their wasted potential for an alternative use.

In 2011 all the subways beneath the south roundabout were removed and filled in by TfL and the roundabout was converted into a T-junction controlled by lights (see more pictures of the removal here). The new crossings give force pedestrians to wait for over a minute and give a few fleeting seconds to cross in two stages. It is a simpler place to navigate but also bleaker, slower and more risky. At the busiest section pedestrians have to cross six lanes of traffic, pausing in the middle on a paved island while they wait for lights to change - many don't wait and chance their luck instead.

Neglected subways and a leafy, grassy roundabout have been replaced by a windswept expanse of hard paving and eight new trees. This campaign did not fight the retention of those subways, their loss was a waste but a less significant risk to pedestrian safety than what could happen at the north roundabout.

Elephant & Castle subway removed from south roundabout 29 January 2011
Railings removed from the southern subways ready for filling in
29 January 2011
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Elephant & Castle subway removed from south roundabout 29 January 2011
Big bags of sand block the southern subways as they are filled in.
29 January 2011
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