Tuesday, June 13, 2023

'The Mall'

London The Unfinished City
Looking west towards Buckingham Palace and the Victoria Memorial.

The Mall has to be one of the most popular places for tourists to visit, in London, and is open to both pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

Whether it is to see Buckingham Palace, Admiralty Arch, Horse Guards, St James's Palace or either of the two parks, Green and St James's, it is always busy.

London The Unfinished City
A gun salute in Green Park.

Then there are the events that take place along its length, such as Changing the Guard, Royal processions including coronations, state openings of Parliament and state visits.

London The Unfinished City
Changing the Guard always draws the crowds.

Although vehicles are allowed to travel down it, scheduled bus routes are forbidden, unless permission is given by the monarch. This has only been granted twice and occurred in 1927 and 1950. 

Also, on Sundays, public holidays and ceremonial occasions The Mall is closed to vehicle traffic.

London The Unfinished City
Looking east towards Admiralty Arch.

What makes this road unique, besides being red, which gives the effect of being a long red carpet, is the fact that the traffic lights located along its length can be removed, by literally pulling them out of the ground. This allows for the processions to use the full width of the road.

London The Unfinished City
Removable Crossing Poles.

London The Unfinished City
Removable Traffic Lights.

However, no matter how busy the area gets, it is still a great place to wander along.

Brief History

The Mall stretches from Buckingham Palace to Admiralty Arch and is exactly 0.5 nautical miles (0.93 km; 0.58 mi) in length.

Buckingham Palace stands at the western end, with Green Park to the north, Admiralty Arch and Trafalgar Square to the east and Horse Guards and St James's Park to the south.

London The Unfinished City
Horse Guards Parade Ground.

This short but important road follows a once tree lined route originally envisioned by King Charles II, in 1660, when he ordered the redesign of St James's Park.

It was along this avenue that the game Pelle Melle, a game which King Charles introduced and played in St James's Park, was played. It is from Pelle Melle that The Mall got its name.

Road traffic was first allowed to use The Mall in 1887.

In 1901 it was suggested that The Mall should become a true processional route, like those in other major cities.

So, at the beginning of the 20th century, plans were put in motio to create a great ceremonial procession route. This included the construction of the Victoria Memorial and a new front face for Buckingham Palace.

London The Unfinished City
Buckingham Palace.

It wouldn't be until the 1950s that The Mall would take in its now world famous red pigment.