Abbey Road, NW8

Abbey Road was laid out in 1829, replacing a track called Abbey Lane when St John’s Wood was developmed. The name derives from nearby Kilburn Priory. In the 1840s, large villas where built along the road in a number of different styles. After 1851 slightly less exclusive properties were built on the western side.

St Mary’s church and St John’s Wood synagogue were built on Abbey Road to serve the area’s two main religious communities.

EMI’s Abbey Road Studios are located at the southern end – the Beatles and many other famous popular music performers have recorded there. The Beatles named their last studio LP Abbey Road. The album’s cover photograph shows the four group members walking across the zebra crossing located just outside the studio entrance. As a result of its association with The Beatles, since 1970 this section of Abbey Road has been featured on the London tourism circuit. In December 2010 the crossing was given Grade II Listed Building status by English Heritage despite its age not being contemporary to that era.

The crossing featured on the Beatles cover, as well as the crossing directly north of it, have become popular photo-opportunity areas, despite the road still being a busy thoroughfare for traffic. The iconic Beatles album cover has been parodied many times over the years on the crossing. The tin street sign on the corner of Grove End Road and Abbey Road is now mounted high on the building on the corner, to save the local council the expense of cleaning and replacing the sign, which was frequently defaced and stolen. The council repaints the wall next to the crossing every three months to cover fans’ graffiti.

The Abbey National Building Society (later the Abbey) was founded in 1874 as The Abbey Road & St John’s Wood Permanent Benefit Building Society in a Baptist church on Abbey Road.

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