On 13 July 1996, supporters of environmental group Reclaim the Streets met at Broadgate, next to London’s Liverpool Street Station to protest against urban motorways and traffic pollution. From there, they took the Central Line to their destination, Shepherds Bush in West London.
Police had erected a roadblock to prevent them from reaching the old A41M, but, as photographer Peter Marshall writes, “the protest organisers crashed two cars to block the north end of the motorway and sound systems drove in. Protesters at the south end found ways around the police line, and soon around seven thousand people were partying on Britain’s shortest motorway, continuing late into the evening.
“It was all pretty confusing and I missed much of what happened – like the digging of holes in the road and planting of trees, the tripods and the huge figures.”
The half-a-mile long MA41 no longer exists. These days it’s known as part of the A3220. The MA41 West Cross Route was built as part of Ringway 1, one link in a series of motorways that would have made London a truly awful place to be for millions of people. You can read more about it in The Roads That Nearly Destroyed London. Flaws in the scheme became obvious to officialdom during the building of the Westway and West Cross Route. And the scheme was abandoned.
Then it was on the Tube to Shepherd’s Bush…
The police were waiting in Shepherd’s Bush…
Not everyone in Shepherd’s Bush was paet of the protest. For people living and working there, it was just another day..
And then the police barricades broke and the protestors were on the motorway…
All photos by Peter Marshall
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