Panic: Wigmore Hall is threatened by noisy buses

Panic: Wigmore Hall is threatened by noisy buses


norman lebrecht

November 07, 2017

Transport for London wants to made Oxford Street a pedestrian zone and run its buses down the parallel Wigmore Street.

That would spell the end of perfect silence in the Wigmore Hall, one of the world’s great chamber music venues.

Have your say in the consultation process here.


  • Minutewaltz says:

    The Wigmore Hall is a microcosm of civilisation, high standards, musicianship, perfection.
    ‘Goodbye cruel world’ are my thoughts as I walk from Wigmote St into the foyer.

  • jonathan dunsby says:

    I think it’s a great idea. You never get total silence in WH anyway.

  • SVM says:

    Dunsby is right about there not being “total” silence — I can sometimes hear the rumble of (what I assume to be) the Bakerloo line (which passes directly underneath the building) at concerts. That is why, contrary to Dunsby’s endorsement of the bus proposal, I would argue it is reason to *not* exacerbate external noise with further propinquitous infrastructure.

    Why do transport planners never take concert-halls seriously (cf. Crossrail tunnel going *directly* under the Barbican, albeit with custom-made sound insulation)? They are not so numerous as to preclude finding better solutions.

    • Nik says:

      Because concerts are seen as a niche pursuit and as such not high on their list of priorities?

    • Sue says:

      In Vienna the Musikverein is protected when infrastructure is being planned and executed. That didn’t stop a rock back proceeding, full speed ahead, across the road one night in Ressel Park when a concert was on in the Musikverein. It COULD be heard. So, the best laid plans of mice and men…..

      • Nik says:

        In the Musikverein you can hear the U4 go past sometimes in quiet moments, especially in the summer when the windows are open.
        But that’s small fry compared to the Konzerthaus when the wrestling is on next door at the Heumarkt! (I’m not sure if they still do it…? But used to be every summer.)

  • Operafan says:

    As far as I can see the proposal is in fact that westbound busses would travel along Henrietta Place and up Marylebone Lane to Wigmore Street, and that eastbound busses would turn right from Wigmore Street into Welbeck Street and Henrietta Place. I.e. no busses would pass directly in front of Wigmore Hall?

    • Melissa Liu says:

      Thanks for the link to the article — it explains something that has puzzled me for some time.
      I was in Cologne two years ago and was among the tourists surprised by being shooed off the plaza near the Cathedral. This was during daytime and apparently there was a rehearsal going on in the concert hall directly below ground. This plaza is in a busily visited area and the open space looks especially inviting to pedestrians, so the hassle of keeping people away must be considerable. According to the article, the area has to be closed off and guarded 1,000 times a year, and “the use of security personnel for the blockade costs 100,000 euros annually.” It seems the esteemed architects of the Köln Philharmonie overlooked this minor detail ….

  • Hilary says:

    Norman, please make Wigmore Street primarily pedestrian as well.
    There’s excessive devotion to polluting motorised vehicles : 4 tube stations from Marble Arch to Tottenham Court Road. This is ample, and will encourage a less sedentary lifestyle. Venice seems to manage perfectly ok.

  • operacentric says:

    In Basel, the tram tracks passing in front of the Stadt Casino (the concert hall – great acoustic!) are fitted with rubber buffers to deaden the noise.

  • Saxon Broken says:

    Buses already go down the street.

    • Nik says:

      There are no TFL bus routes down Wigmore Street at the moment.
      Maybe you saw a tourist coach, or an empty TFL bus on the way to the depot.

  • Steve says:

    Nine bus routes serve the effected part of Oxford Street at the moment. The current plan is to terminate 7 of the routes altogether. Only 2 routes will go down Wigmore Street. This doesn’t seem a big deal to me. There are plenty of people who can afford to use the bus but not the tube; removing the Oxford street bus gridlock will ease pollution for everyone.

    • Steve says:

      Sorry – ‘affected’!

      • Hilary says:

        This is cause for rejoicing ( termination of all but two bus routes). However, I’m less pleased that cycling won’t be allowed down Oxford st. as there needs to be a drive to introduce more people to use this form of transport ala Copenhagen, Amsterdam etc.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Exactly. Only two of the nine routes will go down a small portion of Wigmore Street (which likely is unable to easily accommodate many more). Nearly all the bus routes will terminate at either Marble Arch or Oxford Circus. The very small number of buses going down Wigmore Street will drop visitors even closer to the concert hall than previously.