Camden Town Bypass

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With its busy market, narrow shopping streets and throngs of pedestrians, Camden Town is not an ideal environment for road traffic. It was recognised in the 1960s that the several routes converging on the town centre were a source of much congestion locally and that a solution should be found.

The GLC's solution came bundled up with the plans for Ringway 1's North Cross Route, presumably because the logical route for the bypass followed part of the motorway's alignment. Travers-Morgan, consulting engineers for the report on the North Cross Route, produced a second report a month or two later with full plans for the Camden Town Bypass, indicating that the two were planned as one large scheme.

Map image Flows into A503 Camden Road
Map image Royal College Street
Map image R1 North Cross Route
Map image A502 Chalk Farm Road
Map image Mornington Crescent
Map image Flows into A400 Hampstead Road (leading to Euston Underpass)

The route

Outline mapTravelling southbound, the Bypass would have started on a widened A503 Camden Road, where a dual-carriageway would rise from the middle of the road, leaving north-facing sliproads to run to Royal College Street. The road would then turn west, taking out the south side of Bonny Street, to run elevated above ground level to clear Camden Street, with the North Cross Route on the upper deck above it. Sliproads would have run up and down to connect the two, allowing east-to-east and west-to-west movements between the two roads.

The short double deck would end as the Bypass was to turn south-west across Camden High Street. South-facing sliproads would allow traffic to and from central London to access the North Cross Route to the west and the A502 Chalk Farm Road.

Now a dual three-lane road, the bypass would turn south to run along the east side of the mainline railway to Euston. In order to preserve the grand crescent of terraced houses on Oval Road and Gloucester Crescent, the Bypass was to run below ground level, with Oval Road overhanging the southbound lanes.

Rising back to ground level, the Bypass would require the demolition of the southernmost block of buildings on Mornington Crescent, turning to cross the railway at a widened bridge. A new flyover would be built northbound to carry traffic from central London into Camden Town. The A400 Hampstead Road would then be widened to allow six traffic lanes to reach the Euston Underpass just to the south.

Artist's impression of Camden Town Bypass
Artist's impression published by the GLC showing Oval Road overhanging the Bypass

History

This scheme couldn't fail to be controversial. Despite following a railway for much of its length, it called for two of Camden's most pleasant and regal crescents to be defaced. By rights it should have caused a storm, but there are surprisingly few references to it. Most likely it always lived in the shadow of its larger relative, the North Cross Route. How a scheme like this might have fared in a public inquiry is, unfortunately, not known: it appears to have vanished along with the rest of the plans for Ringway 1.