The Backstreets of London: Crossrail Path, SE18

Not one of my usual dives into the history of an old lane as this is a brand new lane that only came into existence thanks to the arrival of the Elizabeth line station in Woolwich.

When the Crossrail project was initially authorized it did not include a station at Woolwich, but following much political pressure and an agreement from property developer Berkeley Homes to build the station, Woolwich was granted a new station. Part of the quid pro quo was that the housing estate would be much larger, with a row of tall towers running alongside the station.

Two of these towers are on either side of the driveway, and although they give the two blocks of flats their entrances away from the main road, it is a fairly busy driveway normally as it also leads into part of the housing estate for many residents.

Named the Crossrail Path in October 2015, it’s a name that stuck even though the Crossrail project was renamed the Elizabeth Line a few months later in February 2016.

From the south entrance it is just a large paved area recently lined with trees in planters. A few fancy doors lead to the apartments, but there are also a few more bland doors, and they lead to hallways that run behind the row of shops that overlook the main road, for use by staff.

A little further down to your left you can peek into Woolwich’s Elizabeth line station and see the escalators that will carry people in and out of the station from tomorrow morning . It’s worth looking at the decoration on the walls of the station, which is a little easier to see if you step back, as the decoration uses images of a Dead Man’s Penny. If that sounds macabre, it’s a reference to when this whole site was a military arsenal for the government.

At the end of the driveway is a large courtyard with a local pub, an outlet for a chain of well-known food retailers and an oft-mocked estate agent.

What’s not entirely obvious from looking at it is that the yard space is built for heavy loads. Most of the paved areas are designed to hold some weight, but this yard has a large open space, where emergency vehicles would park if it were necessary for large, heavy fire engines to park next to a train station .

This part of the courtyard therefore has very thick stone cobbles in the paving to support the weight.

Frankly, it’s a pretty boring alley that’s of great use to locals but has nothing interesting to say about it – other than it’s called Crossrail, and tomorrow the Elizabeth line opens.

So I wrote about it.

The only thing I will say as a local resident is that it’s also a windy canyon and there have been some stormy days where it’s really hard to walk up the lane to the shops.

About Eric Hudkins

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