This is a tiny dead-end alley just around the corner from Liverpool Street station with a broad name, but narrow countenance.

As an alley, it’s named after nearby Broad Street, which was created in the 1730s to improve access through an area of narrow lanes. The alley first appears as a defined space on John Rocque’s map of 1746, and is named Broad Street Mews. The arrival of the London Underground at Liverpool Street in the 1870s nearly doomed the alley, but the railway cutting ran just a few metres to the north instead, and that open air cutting still exists to the west of Liverpool Street station.

Broad Street Mews had been renamed Broad Street Avenue by the 1890s, possibly at the same time that the railway demolished the buildings to the north side of the mews. In shape and size, the alley hasn’t changed since then.

Entry to the alley is through a narrow passage that then opens up into a wide courtyard space mainly for deliveries and waste collection from the buildings that surround it. Today the north side is a modern brick building with lots of vents, and that’s an electricity substation for the London Underground, providing power to keep the trains running. As you stand there, you can hear the regular rumble of London Underground trains arriving and leaving Liverpool Street station.

The back of the alley is (at time of writing) sealed off as it was a Crossrail building site, and today a large ventilation shaft sits at the end of the alley to provide cool air down to the Elizabeth line. It also contains electrical plant and emergency access facing Bloomfield Street. The building behind the Elizabeth Line box, was used by Crossrail during building works as offices, but is in the process of being demolished and rebuilt as a joint venture between TfL and Aviva.

The current office block curves around the London Underground tracks as a thin L-shaped building, but the replacement will sit over the railway, creating a much larger replacement building. So a part of the tube that had to be open to the air to allow smoke from steam trains to escape will now finally be covered over.

Something else that will be finally lost is the Queen Victoria Tunnel, which was a curving link from the London Underground into Liverpool Street mainline station. That tunnel had long been disused and was demolished by Crossrail to accommodate a utility corridor, but the corner of the new office development basement will also cut into the surviving part of the tunnel closest to the underground railway.

Layout of new basement showing Queen Victoria Tunnel (c) Eric Parry Architects via the planning application

Frankly, there’s not a lot to see down this alley, even though a lot has happened, and continues to happen to the buildings around it.

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2 comments
  1. Michael says:

    This has changed quite a bit for the worse in the last twelve years – it used to be a little alley where, with the help of a couple of wooden pallets left around, you could just about see over to Liverpool Street station and, interestingly, part of the disused platform. There’s a photo of it here and the opposite view from the platform here.

    Sadly the SSR upgrades seemed to put the nail in the coffin for this particular view which is no more. 🙁

    • JP says:

      Thank you Michael for access to your photos.
      I got stuck for forty minutes on those points on my way to Stansted by the express on a bank holiday Sunday first train of the day years ago when the area looked like this and unsurprisingly missed my flight.

      The only thing that kept me going was the (erroneous) thought that they were for my favourite disused tube tunnel ye Queen Vic. Even though in the back of my mind I probably knew that those must have been pulled up in the sixties or twenties, even.
      Thank you for inadvertently putting me straight.

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