Many of London’s garages have now gone. Peter Marshall captured a few on camera as he strolled about the city in the 1980s and 90s.
The Romans founded London in 43 AD, and brought roads with them. As the hub of Roman Britain, straight road suited to invading marching up and down began in London and stretched out. The Anglo-Saxons who came later preferred roads that followed river bends and natural curves in the land. Medieval ruler built more. The 14th Century map bequeathed by Richard Gough to the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford showed a national road system that centred on the city.
Fast forward to the Industrial Revolution and London’s swollen population needed more of everything. Several more ring roads were constructed in the early part of the 20th Century, and in the 1960s highway planning was dominated by the idea of ‘predict and provide’ – you work out how many car journeys there will be in ten years time, and then build the roads needed to accommodate them. As car ownership was growing and public transport was not, London’s highways planners kept predicting they’d need more roads. (You can read about the how that policy nearly destroyed London here).
Today cars are seen as bad things in the city, with successive mayors keen to drive more people onto the over-priced, creaking Tube system. The introduction of pay to enter zones and eye-watering high parking charges has made driving in London expensive and easily affordable for only the better off. And feweer cars means fewer garages to service them.
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