Extreme London

Have you ever thought about where some London’s extremities are? Not the edge of its geographical area, but it’s myriad of roads and streets.

London’s shortest thoroughfare


This has to be Leigh Hunt Street, SE1 at 36ft, just a street sign remains, as the street was cut short by the creation of a park. But I go for Kirk Street, WC1 at 50ft as London’s shortest ‘street’ with an address, even if it’s only for the Dickens public house.

London’s longest street

At 1.5 miles is Rotherhithe Street, but Green Lanes at 7.45 miles from Newington Green to Ridge Avenue, Winchmore Hill, is the longest named thoroughfare.

London’s highest road


Westerham Heights, part of Betsom’s Hill adjacent to the A233, at 804ft and where the county boundary intersects just comes within the M25. On the north-west side of the hill, the borders of Surrey, Kent and Greater London meet at Rag Hill.

London’s lowest road


Crossness Nature Reserve, near Thamesmead, a signpost on the Thames Path, where a path leads off into Crossness Nature Reserve by Malc McDonald (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Strictly speaking, the Thames is the lowest point in London, and therefore any adjacent road should qualify, like Lower Thames Street. But it is actually Eastern Way, the A2016 beside the Crossness Nature Reserve, an oasis of wildlife that once was an industrial spot by the River Thames, and is 10ft below sea level.

London’s steepest road


Downe Road Cudham Lane, Bromley, specifically from the road junction nearest the parish church. It drops sharply to a second junction (with Church Hill) before bending left and heading down the steepest hill in London.
Closely followed by the 1 in 5 gradients at Fox Hill, Crystal Palace, this one’s not on the Ordnance Survey map because the road is too minor, but Fox Hill is definitely steep because a sign at the bottom says so. It’s also a historic track and was immortalised in oils in 1870 by the French impressionist Camille Pissarro, who was living in Norwood at the time.

London’s narrowest street


At 15in, Brydges Place is certainly London’s tightest alleyway, funnelling you between St Martin’s Lane (next to the London Coliseum) and Bedfordbury.

London’s widest street


Discounting the M25, laid out in the 1770s by the Adam Brothers and incorporated by Nash in his grand Regency scheme Portland Place was once London’s widest street.

London’s widest pavements


Whitechapel High Street is one of the shortest high streets in London, developed during the sixteenth century as part of the main route between London and Essex, it has the widest pavements in London.

London’s straitest road

We all know that the Romans like to construct their roads in straight lines, regardless of the terrain. So my guess that London’s straitest is Ermine Street – today’s A10 – its southern end is at London Bridge and it ends up in the Norfolk port town of King’s Lynn. While within the M25, it follows an almost vertical line through the City, Stoke Newington, Tottenham and northwards.

Featured image: Welcome to Harringay Green Lanes, the railway bridge carries the passenger service between Gospel Oak and Barking, now part of the London Overground network. Harringay Green Lanes station – called Harringay Stadium until the early 1990s – is just to the right of the bridge, by Stephen McKay (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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