Marble Arch Podcast

Marble Arch is the subject of the latest podcast in the London Society series: London Explained. Journalist Dave Hill tells the story of the Marble Arch district, examines its contribution to democracy and explains how proposals to change the area around Marble Arch itself could create a grand civic space. Listen to the podcast here and hear more about how Marble Arch could change.

Dave talks to Simon Loomes from The Portman Estate and Lucy Musgrave and Tess McCann from Publica as well as our own Chief Executive Kay Buxton.

The story of Marble Arch is well documented. The trumphal arch started life in 1833 at Buckingham Palace and was moved to its current location in 1851, to serve as the grand entrance to the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park. Its royal connections extend far beyond Marble Arch’s first palatial home, playing host to numberous coronation and funeral processions for over 100 years, the last one being the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

The Marble Arch podcast also delves into the grisly history associated with the infamous Tyburn gallows located near Marble Arch, where thousands of people were executed over more than 600 years. But enough about that, says the podcast, and turns to democracy, free speech and protest. Most people will be familiar with the history of Speakers’ Corner, where free speech has been practiced for over 150 years. But did you know that Marble Arch shares a similar democratic heritage? The Sufragette movement were known to use Marble Arch for many meetings and processions. Fast forward 100 years and Extinction Rebellion occupied Marble Arch during a peaceful protest in 2019.

Marble Arch sits within a traffic gyratory, connecting Edgware Road, Bayswater Road and Oxford Street, with Park Lane. It forms part of Transport for London’s inner ring road and is part of the strategic road network. Effectively marooned on a roundabout, the monument itself and nearby Hyde Park are hard to reach on foot, and from Marble Arch underground station to Hyde Park there are nine lanes of traffic to cross, with pedestrians having to stop and wait on four different occasions. The podcast goes on to explain how a transformational scheme to address the setting of Marble Arch is in the pipeline.

More than a traffic scheme, an emerging vision for Marble Arch could see a major new public space created, where people can relax, play and socialise. Events, public art and a new civic space for the benefit of London as a whole could lie ahead.