Navigating Eros in 1919

1  1998-88554 Piccadilly Circus traffic scene dominated by B-type buses. Copyright TfL.
Piccadilly Circus, 1919. In the background the Pathé film, J’accuse, directed by the influential filmmaker Abel Gance (1889–1981) is showing at the Pavilion. It was a spectacular success throughout Europe, using innovative filming and editing techniques and real soldiers as actors.

Recently we’ve received a great deal of feedback on the photograph above which seems to show buses ‘circling’ Eros in Piccadilly Circus the wrong way.

Our Curators were as intrigued as you and decided to take a closer look. Upon further investigation it became apparent that the size and layout of the island in the middle of Piccadilly Circus  – not to be confused with a traditional roundabout – has changed several times since Eros was unveiled in 1893. Before the Second World War there was a more complicated road layout with two-way traffic (in 1919 there were not enough vehicles on the road to warrant traffic lights!). In the photograph this gives the illusion of traffic moving the ‘wrong’ way around a roundabout.

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One thought on “Navigating Eros in 1919”

  1. Gyratory traffic round the Eros island began on Monday 26 July 1926, the same day that one-way traffic was introduced for Haymarket southbound and Waterloo Place and Lower Regent Street northbound. As the picture shows before then vehicles took the shortest route across the Circus between their entry and exit points . The buses In the foreground have come from Regent Street and are heading to Lower Regent Street; traffic in the opposite direction would be passing out of shot between them and the photographer, (who might possibly have been on the top deck of a bus going that way).

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