I love London for so many reasons and the active street art scene is at the top of the list. I have always liked street art but I fell in love with it while visiting London. The Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel was originally the site of Banksy’s 2008 Cans Festival and is often referred to as Banksy’s Tunnel. This tunnel is one of the only authorized graffiti areas in Central London, it’s quite popular and the art changes on a daily basis. Banksy’s original work is long gone. I wonder what the person who originally painted over it thought. Was he cocky about it or a little nervous. I mean, it’s Banksy, even I know who Banksy is! On the other hand, I believe Banksy would want the tunnel walls to be alive. And they are alive!
As you approach the tunnel it appears dark and, well, sketchy. You will likely smell… skunk… don’t be alarmed. I visited during the day and felt safe. It is an active pedestrian tunnel, people come and go. It would be odd to not see someone at work during a visit to this tunnel. The tunnel is only a half-mile, every inch is covered with vibrant graffiti and street art including quotes, expressions and political statements. It is ever-changing and a must see while in London.
The Tunnel is located in Southbank under the Waterloo Station. It is a 5-minute walk from the London Eye. Walk east from the Eye through the plaza. Cross Belvedere Road and continue east along Chicheley Street, which ends a block later at York Street. Cross York Street, jog to the right 20 m then turn left and walk east into the tunnel. It is an odd location and not easy to find, Google coordinates are 51.502018, -0.115807. If you get turned around ask local businesses where the graffiti tunnel is. Plan on spending an hour, there’s a lot to see!