Marble Arch

Posted on: March 31, 2018, by :

Marble Arch

Is an area in West London where Bayswater Road, Edgware Road and Oxford Street meet. The area gets its name from a 19th-century white marble faced triumphal arch,designed by John Nash in 1827. The arch was initially the state entrance to the cour d’honneur of Buckingham Palace. It was relocated to Hyde Park in 1851 and following the widening of Park Lane 1960s, the arch stood isolated on a large traffic island. The arch also lends its name to the nearby underground station.

The area is known for its shopping. It is the start of the shopping mile consisting of Bond Street, Oxford Street and further on, onto Tottenham Court Road. Shopping giants such as Marks and Spencer, Selfridges and Debenhams lined the busy streets and the area is focus for the annual Christmas light up. Nearer to Marble Arch end is the ever popular Primark department store which sells cheap trendy clothes and basics.

Marble Arch is also the starting point of Edgware Road, a busy thoroughfare heading north of London. The area is known for its Middle East flavour with shops catering to Middle East clientele coming to London during summer. There is increasing gentrification of the area with more middle range coffee and lifestyle shops standing cheek by jowl with shisha and kebab joints.

The traffic island in the middle of Marble Arch had a problem with rough sleepers in the recent years, mostly Romanian immigrants. The area also had a rather macabre history being the site of the Tyburn tree. The area was used for public execution of criminals from the 16th to 18th centuries. The Tyburn tree held the gallows that could execute three criminals at once. The site of the gallows is marked by a roundel in the ground with the inscription ‘The site of the Tyburn tree’.

Public execution those days were seen as entertainment, attracting thousands to Marble Arch. Stands were erected and for a fee, patrons could have an unobstructed view of the proceedings. So full were the stands that it was recorded one of the stands collapse killing several people and injuring hundreds. The presence of food vendors and other entertainment added to the carnival atmosphere, and ironically there was a prevalence of pickpockets in the area, a crime which could find the perpetrator doing the ‘Tyburn jig’ when hung at the gallows.