Westway, Westminster/Kensington & Chelsea/Hammersmith & Fulham

The part of the A40 dual carriageway that runs from East Acton to Paddington

Begun in 1964, the Westway was conceived as a solution to conges­tion caused by the absence of a link between central London and the interwar Western Avenue.

Although the Westway begins where the Western Avenue finishes – at Savoy Circus in East Acton – its name is most often used to refer to the two-and-a-half mile elevated section that runs from White City to Paddington, where it funnels into the Maryle­bone Road via the Maryle­bone flyover. The photo­graph above shows the view of the flyover from the top of Paddington Green police station.* The elevated section of the Westway is shown on the map below.

The Greater London Council forced this state-of-the-art highway through the North Kens­ington area amidst alle­ga­tions of Soviet-style disregard for the effects on the local popu­la­tion. Angry protests greeted Michael Heseltine, then Parlia­men­tary Under-Secretary for Transport, when he opened the Westway in July 1970, and the GLC was forced to rehouse some residents living adjacent to the road.

Beneath its elevated section the Westway Project added artistic embell­ish­ments and the North Kens­ington Amenity Trust (now the Westway Trust) helped to establish leisure and cultural amenities.

The road’s bleak underbelly has frequently featured as a film and pop video location, and punk rockers the Clash and the Jam employed Westway imagery. The Clash’s Joe Strummer used to busk in the pedestrian underpass beneath the Marylebone flyover. The subway was named in his honour in 2009.

The Westway provides the setting for JG Ballard’s novel Concrete Island. Ballard compared the Westway with Cambodia’s temple city Angkor Wat, calling it “a stone dream that will never awake.”

Postal districts: W2, W10 and W12
Recommended article: What’s Really Happening Alongside The Westway? (Londonist)
Further reading: Christopher Griffin, Nomads Under the Westway: Irish Travellers, Gypsies and other traders in West London, University of Hertfordshire Press, 2008
* The picture of the Marylebone flyover at the top of this page is cropped from an original photograph, copyright Highways England, at Flickr, made available under the Attribution 2.0 Generic licence. Any subsequent reuse is freely permitted under the terms of that licence.