The New Bishop's Bridge Road

To obtain the necessary powers to build The Heathrow Express Railway, British Airports Authority and British Rail promoted a bill in Parliament. The City of Westminster, while supporting the concept of a railway link from central London to Heathrow, considered that, as facilities for cars and especially for taxis were so poor in Paddington, the station would require a new vehicular access. The Council wanted this included in the parliamentary bill. BAA and British Rail disagreed and there was a lengthy petition in Parliament, with the City strongly supported by the residents, who feared that the extra cars and taxis would turn their streets into rat runs.

A compromise was agreed whereby, if the Council, British Rail, and the British Airports Authority agreed to share the funding, a new road access would be built within two years of the station opening. This became the Long Term Vehicular Access (LTVA). Subsequent progress was delayed by BAA's re-financing the project, the privatization of British Rail and the creation of Railtrack.

Bishop's Bridge Road consists of three bridges, one over the canal, one over Paddington Goods Yard and one over the railway tracks. The new road had to be five lanes wide, so it had always been known that the two road bridges would have to be rebuilt. It soon became apparent that the railway bridge could not be adapted to meet modern standards. The road would be closed for two years and the bridge rebuilt. The total cost was estimated at over £44 million at AD 2000 prices, of which Westminster would pay half.

There will be one unexpected design advantage. At present it is not possible to see Paddington Station from Bishop's Bridge, but the new bridge would open up views of Brunel's splendid train sheds for the very first time.

Plan of the Bishop's Bridge Road and
Goods Yard Area Redevelopment in 2001.


Six new blocks with car entrance from Bishop's Bridge Road to low level garages, but otherwise free of cars. A new bridge over the canal for pedestrians to Rembrandt Gardens and Warwick Avenue. The curved piazza between blocks A,B,C and D is about four metres below the canal towpath and the grassed area in the centre slopes down a further storey. This central triangle is designed to be a secluded area of calm. Quite incidentally, with its sloping grass seating, it is a natural open air theatre. 

Architects: Siddel Gibson

Page 249
Page 251
Updated January 29, 2011