The Pedway: Elevating London is a 40-minute documentary by filmmaker Chris Bevan Lee on the post-war redevelopment of the City of London, focusing on the ambitious attempt to build a network of elevated walkways through the city. Packed with newsreel footage, it's a fascinating glimpse back into 1950s and 1960s London and a reminder of the extraordinary scale of devastation wreaked by the Blitz.
The film centres on a blueprint originated in 1947 by architect Charles Holden and planner William Holford whereby new commercial development in the City would incorporate raised walkways and bridges that would elevate pedestrians above the exhaust fumes and danger of the increasing traffic flows on the streets below. By the 1960s the City of London corporation had included the Pedway scheme in its own plans, requiring developers to incorporate Pedway elements in their buildings in order to obtain planning permission.
With the exception of the Barbican Centre, where the Pedway element was sufficiently integrated to work in isolation from other paths, the bizarre result was a series of dead-end bridges and paths many of which, now abandoned, still haunt the square mile.
Before watching Bevan Lee's film I knew nothing of the Pedway scheme but had often wondered about the seemingly inaccessible foot ways and bridges that cross the London Wall and Lower Thames Street dual carriageways. To my delight, when I started to read up about the scheme after watching the film, I learned that the building where I work (the St.Helen's Tower off St Mary Axe) was itself part of the scheme and until the 1990s had a walkway connecting it to its next door neighbour!
This is a lovely and very enlightening film. The extensive archive clips fit seamlessly with the modern footage and there are fascinating contextual sequences from movies like Fritz Lang's Metropolis that influenced the ideas behind the scheme. The film is beautifully shot and perfectly balanced with the commentary by expert academics and planners. All in all, an excellent documentary and I would highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in London's history and architecture.
The film can be viewed free of charge for a limited period at:
You can contact Chris Bevan Lee here
You can learn more about the Pedway scheme here.