Saving Abbey Road: a Victory for Tourists and Pedestrians

abbey road photo
Migrated Image

Abbey Road, the most famous pedestrian crossing in (musical) history. If you are a tourist, it's on the must-go list. If you are a local or a driver, it is on the must-be-avoided list, but that's another story.

Let it be: Abbey Road, site of the cover of the famous Beatles album, has now been listed as a piece of heritage worth saving for future generations. Aside from the Beatles, why should we care?

simpsons crossing photo

We care about the Beatles
We can work it out. For the past 41 years, thousands of Beatles fans have posed there for photographs. The government made the unprecedented decision to protect the crossing on the advice of English Heritage, the authority responsible for historical designations. They said that "This London zebra crossing is no castle or cathedral but, thanks to the Beatles and a 10-minute photo-shoot one August morning in 1969, it has just as strong a claim as any to be seen as part of our heritage." Apparently Sir Paul McCartney welcomed the news.

We care about pedestrians
Why don't we do it in the road. It's a positive step (!) for pedestrians too. It means that people take precedence over cars. Being a pedestrian in London is a perilous thing. One can never take it for granted that crossing the road in safety is a right. The local etiquette is to wave in thanks to cars that let you cross the street. These crossings slow cars down, which is important on busy streets. Every pedestrian crossing that is lost is further proof that cars are more important than walkers.

ringo starr photo

But what about Ringo...the long ignored drummer and fourth of the Fab Four? Heritage campaigners have criticised English Heritage for recommending Abbey Road for historical listing while rejecting Ringo Starr's birthplace, a small house in LIverpool which is due to be demolished.
It don't come easy. English Heritage said: "After examining all the papers on this file and other relevant information and having carefully considered the architectural and historic interest of this case, the criteria for listing are not fulfilled."

With a little help from my friends. A group called SAVE Britain's Heritage has called English Heritage's view a "joke", asking "How is it possible to argue that birthplace of Ringo Starr is less important than the Abbey Road crossing?" As always, it comes down to a discussion of class: "These north-south double-standards show English Heritage at their most condescending and sniffy."

While my guitar gently weeps. In order to stave off demolition, the group is calling for the "listing of Madryn Street, together with Ringo's subsequent childhood home; the birthplace of George Harrison; where John Lennon lived from 1945 to 1963; childhood home of Paul McCartney, and the ornate iron gates and stone piers of Strawberry Field, all that remains of the house and gardens which inspired one of the Beatles' most famous songs."