An ancient Roman road re-opens in London – Watling Street Revived

You might have seen my last post on the London Temple of Mithras or London Mithraeum.

As part of the massive building project which has seen the creation of the new Bloomburg Headquarters and the painstakingly restored and relocated Temple of Mithras, a very ancient roadway has been re-opened that had been lost for much of the 20th Century.

Watling Street is a famous Roman street that crossed uch of England, from the south coast to the Thames and across London Bridge before immediately heading northwest through Londinium.

The route had barely changed for 2,000 years but in the reconstruction of London after The Blitz, preserving heritage wasn’t always a priority and a huge new concrete office block was placed upon a southern most section.

The ancient thoroughfare of Watling Street which dates from at least Roman times was temporarily lost due to construction in the 1960's but now returns in the form of the Bloomburg Arcade.

The ancient thoroughfare of Watling Street which dates from at least Roman times was temporarily lost due to construction in the 1960’s but now returns in the form of the Bloomburg Arcade.

That would have been that if not for improved building engineering and a determination that the Bloomberg building wouldn’t be as overwhelmingly large, tall or overbearing as it might have been but also with more than an eye on the special history of this site.

As such the building is almost two buildings, with a wide thoroughfare through the middle and the buudings linked far above head-height by a number of walkways.

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All ready the Bloomburg Arcade has a number of shops, cafe’s and restaurants and several of them were packed with city workers when I visted last week.   Just like the 1915 map above, Bloomburg Arcade is slightly staggered from the more established part of the street across the junction.

Ancient Watling Street, just a few seconds walk from the revived Watling Street in the form of Bloomburg Arcade.

Ancient Watling Street, just a few seconds walk from the revived Watling Street in the form of Bloomburg Arcade… heading off to St. Pauls Cathedral.

It isn’t just the Roman roadway which has been revived but in a sense an even older transportation route.

You might remember my post a few months ago on the Lost and Hidden Rivers of London.  As part of the transformation of this block of highly ancient and highly valuable real-estate, the designers decided to re-instate parts of the long lost River Walbrook.

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Sadly as the river is now a sewer, it was decided that in the interests of public health it might not be the best idea to have an open sewer running through the streets and so the next best thing has been done and that is the creation of a number of public art works of flowing waters that are reminiscent of the fresh waters that must have been a tempting factor in the Romans deciding to set up camp here.

For a more physical reminder of the the river, you just have to walk a few minutes away to the beautiful St Stephen Walbrook church and the Walbrook path that lies between the church and the Mithreaum which seems to have more than its fair share of drains and manhole covers!

 

If you’d like to explore Roman London with me on a fabulous private, guided walking tour then do check out https://stephenliddell.co.uk/ye-olde-england-tours-2/our-tours/london-tours/roman-london-walking-tour/

 

 

 

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About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including a #1 seller, I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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One Response to An ancient Roman road re-opens in London – Watling Street Revived

  1. Pingback: The Roman Ruins Under A London Hairdressers | Stephen Liddell

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