Oxford Circus, designed by John Nash in 1811.Oxford Circus
New Bond Street
is the northernmost section of what is simply known as ’Bond Street
’ in general use.
is a major shopping street in the West End, linking Piccadilly
in the south to Oxford Street
in the north. It is the only street that runs all the way between the two.The two parts of the street have always had separate names - New Bond Street
and Old Bond Street
. A plan by the council to merge the two into a singular ’Bond Street
’ in the 1920s was rejected by locals.
The street was named after Sir Thomas Bond who led a syndicate of developers. They purchased a Piccadilly
mansion called Clarendon House
from the 2nd Duke of Albemarle in 1686, demolished the house and developed the area. At that time, the house backed onto open fields, known as Albemarle Ground.
New Bond Street
was laid out about 1700 during a second phase of construction of the syndicate’s development of the area and most of the building occurred in the 1720s on what was the Conduit Mead Estate.
In the 18th century, Bond Street
began to be popular with the upper classes. Shop owners began to let out their upper storeys for residents, attracting Jonathan Swift, William Pitt the Elder, Laurence Sterne and others. In 1784, Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, encouraged people to go to Bond Street
and consequently, the street became a retail area for the people of Mayfair. Lord Nelson stayed at lodgings in New Bond Street
between 1797 and 1798, and then again from 1811 to 1813.
By 1800, an upper-class group known as the ’Bond Street
Loungers’ had appeared, wearing expensive wigs and parading up and down Bond Street
. Thomas Pitt, 2nd Baron Camelford, living in the street, was unhappy about the presence of the Bond Street
Loungers. In 1801 he had an altercation with several Loungers on his doorstep and then retreated upstairs, firing upon the crowd with his pistol.
During the 19th century, Bond Street
increased its reputation as a street for luxury shopping with early establishments of auctioneers and jewellers. Bond Street
has been mentioned in several works of literature - among them Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility
and Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway
The Royal Arcade
, opened in 1879, links Old Bond Street
with Albemarle Street
and was originally proposed in 1864 as a longer link between Old Bond Street
and Regent Street
The street maintained its reputation for luxury shopping into the new millennium and has on occasion been regarded as the best retail location in Europe. It is a green square on the London version of the Monopoly game.
, the busy intersection of Oxford Street
and Regent Street
, was constructed in the beginning of the 19th century, and was designed by John Nash. Regent Street
had been commissioned by Prince Regent, who was later to become King George IV, as a grand scheme to connect the Princes home at Carlton House with his newly acquired property at Regents Park
. Nash designed a wide boulevard with a sweeping curve that became a clear dividing line between the less respectable Soho and the fashionable squares and streets of Mayfair. Born from the concept of Nash’s layout of the New Street in 1812, frontage alignments remain, with the rebuilt listed architecture of 1920s buildings.
The surrounding area contains important elements of the Nash heritage. All frontages on the Circus are Grade II Listed. The entire of Regent Street
is also listed and sits within a conservation area.
The circus is served by Oxford Circus
tube station, which is directly beneath the junction itself.
station has entrances on all four corners of the intersection. The station is an interchange between the Central, Victoria and Bakerloo lines. It is the fourth busiest station on the network and the busiest without connection to the National Rail service. It opened on the Central London Railway on 30 July 1900, with the Baker Street
and Waterloo Railway's platforms opening on 10 March 1906. The two companies had separate surface buildings and lift shafts. The station buildings, which remain today as exits from the station, were constructed on very confined plots on either side of Argyll Street
on the south side of Oxford Street
, just to the east of the circus itself. The stations were originally built as entirely separate, but connecting passages were swiftly provided at platform level. The surviving Central London Railway building to the east of Argyll Street
is the best surviving example of the stations designed by Harry Bell Measures, and the Bakerloo line building to the west is a classic Leslie Green structure. Both station buildings are Grade II listed.
Almost from the outset, overcrowding has been a constant problem at the station and it has seen numerous improvements to its facilities and below-ground arrangements to deal with this difficulty. After much discussion between the then two separate operators, a major reconstruction began in 1912. This saw a new ticket hall, dealing with both lines, built in the basement of the Bakerloo station, the Bakerloo lifts removed, and new deep-level escalators opened down to the Bakerloo line level. Access to the Central line was by way of existing deep-level subways. The new works came into use on 9 May 1914 with the CLR lifts still available for passengers. By 1923 even this rearrangement was unable to cope, so a second rebuilding commenced. This saw a second set of escalators built directly down to the Central line, the CLR station building becoming an exit only. Then, on 2 October 1928, a third escalator leading to the Bakerloo platforms was opened. Unusually, lifts came back into prominence at an Underground station when, in 1942, a set of high-speed lifts came into use, largely used as an exit route from the Central line platforms directly to the Argyll Street
The Victoria line opened on 7 March 1969. To handle the additional passenger loads, a new ticket hall was constructed directly under the road junction. To excavate the new ticket hall below the roadway, traffic was diverted for five years (August 1963 to Easter 1968) on to a temporary bridge-like structure known as the 'umbrella' covering the Regent Street
intersection. Services tunnels were constructed to carry water mains and telecom cables past the new ticket hall. Construction of the Victoria line station tunnels with their platforms, the new escalator shafts and the linking passages to the Central line platforms was carried out from access shafts sunk from nearby Cavendish Square
, Upper Regent Street
and Argyll Street
. To this day, traffic passing through the Oxford Circus
intersection literally travels over the roof of the ticket office.