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Drawing - Design for The Great Victorian Way
  • Design for The Great Victorian Way
    Paxton, Joseph Sir, born 1803 - died 1865
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Design for The Great Victorian Way

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Britain (Made)

  • Date:

    1855 (Made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Paxton, Joseph Sir, born 1803 - died 1865 (Designed)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pencil, pen and ink and watercolour

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This ideal scheme (never built) was an extension of the principles Paxton used in the design of the Crystal Palace. The intention was to form a covered way, circular in its route, which would keep out the dirt, rain, fog, smoke, damp and cold of the London climate. Paxton proposed using the recently invented smokeless pneumatic railway, in conjunction with covered streets, lined with high-class shops and superior dwellings, to make what was, from the point of view of transport facilities at least, a prophetic forerunner of the Circle Line, which now largely uses the route that Paxton put forward.

Physical description

Watercolour design drawing; a section showing perspective view and details of a vaulted cast iron and glass structure, shops, residences and a pneumatic railway. Scale approximately 1 inch to 6 feet. On wove paper remounted on modern paper.

Place of Origin

Britain (Made)


1855 (Made)


Paxton, Joseph Sir, born 1803 - died 1865 (Designed)

Materials and Techniques

Pencil, pen and ink and watercolour

Marks and inscriptions

Signed in brown ink on original mount Joseph Paxton Sydenham 1855


Height: 70.6 cm, Width: 104.7 cm, Height: 104 cm frame, Width: 138 cm frame, Depth: 7.5 cm frame

Object history note

After Paxton's death, this design was inherited by G. H. Stokes (architect and son-in-law of Paxton) who died in 1874. It finally went to T. H. Thorpe, architect, of 23 St James Street, Derby, and was sold by this firm to the Museum.

Historical context note

See the Report of the Select Committee on Metropolitan Communications, 1855

Descriptive line

Design for The Great Victorian Way, a cast iron and glass vaulted structure, incorporating a roadway, shops, residences and pneumatic railway, 1855. Joseph Paxton

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Jane Pavitt and Abraham Thomas (eds.), 'Superstructure: The Making of the Sainsbury Centre' (Norwich: Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, 2018)
page 44 (with colour image)

Subjects depicted

Great Victorian Way




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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