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The Rough Guide to Accessing London by Andrew Healey

Reviewed by Judith Parker

Spending time in the capital can be frustrating enough on two legs, but how easy is it if you're on wheels instead of legs? Of course you 'don't have to be in a wheelchair to appreciate the value of a lift as many of us do not have the puff to walk up even one flight of stairs.

This book covers various places from museums to shopping centres. Below are examples that I thought were worth mentioning.

Apparently 83 per cent of London's buses are accessible with a wheelchair, except the old Route Masters! As the London Underground dates back to 1863 in parts, it will be a long and expensive job to make it all totally accessible, but at least they have started with parts of the Jubilee Line and Docklands Light Railway.

The guide has details of accessible places of interest including museums, such as the Victoria & Albert Museum, and historical places, such as the Tower of London. Then there's the Barbican, which has cinemas, concert halls and exhibitions. Even grand buildings such as the Royal Albert Hall are included. Many places offer entry concessions for disabled people and in some cases they have a 'Carer Goes Free' concession, at the London Eye, for example. It also includes some leisure venues such as Hyde Park, whose Appeal Fund has purchased five Liberty Drive buggies. Driven by volunteers, the buggies pick up and drop off at eight points around the park. This fund is also currently fundraising for a disabled toilet to be installed in the centre of the park.

Also there are many places to eat such as Wong Kei Restaurant at 41 Wardour Street, W1. This is a large, bustling Chinese restaurant in the heart of Chinatown. Although it is on several levels, this restaurant is very popular with disabled diners. Where needed, the staff will always find a place for you on the ground floor. It also has a clean disabled toilet.

Two of the best places to shop mentioned are Peter Jones at Sloane Square and Harrods in Knightsbridge. Peter Jones has a leaflet detailing facilities for disabled customers, available from Customer Services, which gives details of the help available with shopping and telephone shopping (free local delivery). It also gives the locations of disabled toilets, which require a Radar Key (available from your local council). Both the men's and women's fitting rooms have an area for wheelchair users. Harrods has disabled toilets on most floors and you can also pick up your purchases at the door on your way out, which stops any unnecessary carrying.

I would definitely recommend this book to any GUCH who is visiting London. 

Enjoy your visit to London!

For free downloadable accessible information for use when visiting London, visit the Transport for London website.

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