Over the years I have developed a fond appreciation for street art, to some this may me unpopular to others not but nonetheless it’s something i enjoy. So when I booked a trip to London one of the things I wanted to take in was some great places to see such art. After a bit of research I came across one place that struck me as a cool place to visit and that was Leake Street Arches.
What is Leake Street Arches?
Located under Waterloo Station are the 8 former railway arches. An area which is there to celebrate the culture of urban art, dining and entertainment, this run down area was brought back to life in 2008, which was then sprung to life with the visit of Banksy who turned the tunnel into an exhibition space .
The area encourages graffiti on the walls and ceilings in a controlled manner and is a area that is ever changing so no matter when your go back the arches in some shape or form would represent different art. So at this point please take my photos as art works that were present during my visit and may not still be on show.
How is Leake Street controlled?
The whole area was created to help support local talent and creative street artists alike in a controlled environment any street art / graffiti outside of the boundaries are removed. The area gives people the chance to create and show off talent but some simple rules must be adhered to. These rules are found below.
Leake Street rules
This list is courtesy of the Leake Street website
- Graffiti and street art are permitted, and actively encouraged, on the walls of the Leake Street Tunnel.
- Graffiti outside the authorised area will be removed.
- Graffiti featuring sexism and misogyny, racism, homophobia or transphobia, or any other form of discrimination is not permitted and will be removed.
- Graffiti featuring advertising is not permitted and will be removed.
- Please take all empty spray cans home or dispose of them responsibly
- Leake Street Tunnel is a public space, and so antisocial, indecent or offensive behaviour will be responded to in the same way as other public areas.
- All noise is to be kept to a minimum after 10pm to avoid disturbing local residents.
- Drinking alcohol in the tunnel is NOT permitted, unless it’s under the guidance of an approved event.
- Taking drugs in the tunnel is NOT permitted and will be reported straight to the police.
- Amplified music is not permitted in Leake Street Tunnel unless part of an authorised event.
- Fire/smoke emitting devices are not permitted as excessive use sets off smoke/fire detectors in adjoining property and may cause concern or hazard to other tunnel users and neighbours. Please DO NOT use smoke grenades etc. Any such activity will be reported to the police.
- The only motor vehicles that are welcome are authorised service and event vehicles and emergency service vehicles. The police will issue warnings and seize vehicles where necessary.
- Visitors should take care when working at heights or on any structures in the tunnel and do so at their own risk.
- All events (including photoshoots and filming) must be authorised by submitting a request form (see Events Section)
- Non-for-profit events (including photoshoots and filming) will generally be approved within 24 hours (providing standard safety terms are agreed to)
What else is availble at Leake Street
Leake Street is also home to a urban selection of restaurants and bars, with a board games cafe, a Polish kitchen and a American themed diner. Your also find the Vaults Theatre, which hosts a number of live events most notably the VAULT Festival – which runs from January to March every year and is known nationally as one of the largest urban festivals around attracting a whole host of visitors.
One of the extras mentioned above at Leake street is the annual Vault Festival.
The festival showcases a wide variety of performances across different genres including theatre, comedy, dance, and live music. Known for its commitment to showcasing new and emerging talent, and offers a platform for artists to showcase their work to a wider audience. In addition to performances, the festival also hosts workshops, talks, and other events. Running since 2012 and has grown in popularity over the years, attracting both local and international audiences.
It’s not for everyone
I get it street art / graffiti is not for everyone and although a fan many a train journeys taken from Worthing to London the amount of random graffiti plastered randomly over walls is not a great look I believe in controlled environment or commissioned pieces in certain areas is a great way to control and let such artists show case there talents.
How To Get There
- Bus – The routes service the area. 24 hours service routes 12,53, 148,159 341, 453. Day service routes 77,211,381,507,C10, RV1. Night services routes – N109, N155, N381
- Car – No parking is available at Leake Street
- Train – Waterloo Station
- Tube – Waterloo and Lambeth North both serviced by the Bakerloo Line
- Boat – Waterloo Pier boat stop
This is not tolerated and any graffiti or street art drawn outside the arches will be removed.
Yes there are 3 venues with a cafe, polish restaurant and a American style diner / bar.
Yes you can arrive by bus, boat, train, tube or walking, however no parking is available on site
The Vault Festival runs from January to March every year