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One of London’s most secret (and not so secret) gardens! Several times a year its a pretty sight with its fantastic displays of flowers despite the traffic whizzing past at up to 40mph. People may tout other London gardens as being great including that at Embankment – but Park Lane is just as great – if you like battling with its road traffic!
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These gardens were once part of Hyde Park, but became separated when the Marble Arch to Hyde Park Corner road system was upgraded in the sixties. The boundary of Hyde Park was actually along the east side of these gardens and the northbound section of Park Lane was formerly known as The Ring, part of the network of roads within Hyde Park itself. People could walk across The Ring in confidence because it was not part of a main road network.
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The now sealed off steps to the subway that once led to Hyde Park and Marble Arch tube station.
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The flowerbeds at the Marble Arch end near the Animals in War memorial.
Park Lane (the original bit on the east side) was London’s busiest roadway and it all had to change to provide more space for the huge amounts of traffic. The new Hyde Park Corner to Marble Arch Improvement scheme saw subways provided at a number of locations to actively encourage people to visit the centre island gardens.
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The closed off subway entrance at Aldford Street, meaning few can easily visit the beautiful flowers in the distance.
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A look at the tulips and palm trees south of Upper Grosvenor Street.
It seems nowadays visits to the central islands are quite rare even though they happen to be a focus point for these beautiful gardens and some notable works of art and sculptures, one of which I have written about – Lord Byron (and the difficulty of visiting his monument!)
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Flowers and palm trees opposite the Grosvenor House Hotel.
There isnt actually a ban of any sort on visiting the central islands, they are just not very easy to access since the removal of these subways, plus the traffic along Park Lane can be terrifying for anyone trying to get across.
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Beautiful display of flowers, as well as memorial wreaths, around the Animals in War Memorial.
The new Animals in War memorial, at the north end of Park Lane, has in part bucked the trend of visitors being discouraged from visiting the central islands. Part of the success here has been the provision of a major cycle and pedestrian crossing at this point which also gives access to the Animals in War memorial.
Further improved access to the central islands is not a trend we are likely to see on the remainder of Park Lane at this very moment. An exception would be once the works on Crossrail have been completed, the construction site at Marble Arch’s southern island should be restored to its original state including flowerbeds. Combined with improved pedestrian access to Hyde Park, this centre island should once again be a popular spot for rest and leisure.
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Flowers-a-plenty and the attractive view straight down Aldford Street to the Grosvenor Chapel.
Park Lane is London’s busiest roadway but still there’s the flowers and the beautiful prospect looking towards the Grosvenor Chapel in South Audley Street as shown above and below.
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The Grosvenor Chapel as seen from the Park Lane islands.
Contrary to popular opinion, the Park Lane centre islands and gardens are not either TfL or the Royal Parks but the City of Westminster’s responsibility.