When we were in London to visit the SEA LIFE London Aquarium I noticed that we would be really close to Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel. I love street art and thought it was the perfect opportunity to go hunting for some of London’s famous street art. Leake St Tunnel is pretty well known and I couldn’t wait to go and visit with the kids.
How do I find Leake Street?
The first question you might ask is how do I find the Leake Street Tunnel? If you search on google maps you’ll find the Leake Street Tunnel is a 300m tunnel beneath Waterloo Station. We approached from the Thames, walking down Chicheley Street and crossing over York Road. You’ll find Leake Street between a parade of shops and an office block.
Walk down the street, mind the cars as there’s an entrance to a car park, and carry on walking until you see the tunnel.
The Leake Street Tunnel and kids
Now my children enjoy street art as much as I do. We found an amazing street, actually called Graffiti Street when we visited Ghent earlier this month, so I knew they would enjoy Leake Street.
So is the Leake Street Tunnel suitable to take children? Absolutely! It’s flat with good access. On our visit it was really busy with tourists and locals walking through. It’s well lit, a little smelly, but a great place for kids. I wouldn’t visit on my own at night but it’s perfectly safe during the day.
How did Leake Street become a place for street art?
Leake Street (sometimes known as the Banksy Tunnel) is a place where graffiti is tolerated (regardless of the fact that it is against the law).
The walls are decorated with graffiti, initially created during the Cans Festival organised by Banksy in 2008. We love Banksy and have spotted several of his works around London. Anyone can add their own street art so don’t be surprised to see artists painting over an existing patch of wall and adding their own mark.
What kind of street art can you see?
Some people’s street art is another person’s graffiti. So what would you call the Leake Street Tunnel? Some people believe that graffiti is word-based whereas street art is image-based.
Both are illegal if you don’t have permission of the land owner but at the Leake Street Tunnel it is tolerated and so has become a haven for street artists.
We found a real mix of street art with words, images, mosaics, posters, as well as a cute little Lego minifigure and even a plastic banana incorporated into the art. Everything goes and it’s colourful and fun.
Leake Street Tunnel is free, open 24 hours a day and worth a visit if you love street art. Just don’t expect to see the same piece of work on your next visit!