Workers 'let it be' at iconic Beatles zebra crossing

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Eight20 Abbey Road

Photo: The Abbey Road team (from left to right): Mihai Barbu, Marius Lupu, Szymon Szura and Wojciech Machaj.

Staff from Thames Water have been working like a dog as part of a tricky roadworks programme at the famous Abbey Road zebra crossing.

Engineers from the water company’s alliance eight20 were forced to work at the site, made famous by the pop icons Beatles in the late 1960s, as part of a water mains replacement programme.

Abbey Road is a popular tourist destination in London, with thousands of the band’s fans flocking to take pictures and selfies.

The picture of Sir Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr and George Harrison crossing the road during a break from recording their 11th studio album, also called Abbey Road, is arguably the most iconic picture of the band, and the water engineers were committed to not spoiling the crossing.

Six members of staff were forced to find a way to of replacing the six sections of five inch cast iron water mains pipes underneath the crossing, after the water supply was transferred to new polyethylene pipes, without disturbing the iconic landmark, which has Grade II listed status.

The work is part of an ongoing programme across the capital to replace old cast iron water mains pipes with new plastic ones, which are far less susceptible to leaks and bursts.

Claire Hallybone, senior archaeologist, said: “Although this would seem like any other street works job, the Beatles’ crossing was designated as Grade 2 listed in 2010 for its cultural and historical importance.

“So we would have needed Listed Buildings Consent for any works that might have impacted the crossing.”           

The team worked hard to find a way of not digging the road up, and to ‘let it be’, and managed to divert the service away from the crossing, which negated the need for consent and removed the risk of prosecution for any damage to the landmark.

The work was essential to ensure that all the customers in the area were connected to the new supply and not the old cast iron supply, otherwise they would have been left without water, and the work has now been completed.