Those impressive Edwardians thoughtfully left enough room between the arches of this grand 1906 railway viaduct for an eight-lane motorway to pass through. Officially called the Chalfont Viaduct, even traffic reports now refer to it as the “Give Peas A Chance Viaduct” due to the infamous graffiti it bears.
The M25 London orbital motorway provides very little to smile about, but painted on the side of this notable railway bridge is a cryptic message that is sure to raise a grin from even the most sour-faced commuter. But who painted the graffiti, and why? Was it a John Lennon fan who could not spell? Was it a vandalizing vegetarian activist? A proud legume enthusiast, perhaps?
In reality it was none of the above. Originally the graffiti simply read ‘“PEAS,” which was the tag of a prolific London graffiti artist. One theory is that Peas (the artist) kept getting arrested, so someone made a polite and public request on the side of the bridge for his fairer treatment.
Oxford Archaeology carried out a historic building report on the bridge in 2009 and studied the legendary graffiti as part of the noble viaduct’s architectural interest. Their conclusion was that someone else added the words “Give” and “a chance” almost immediately after the appearance of the original tag, probably as a pun on the title of John Lennon’s 1969 protest song “Give peace a chance.” Presumably, the aim was simply to amuse passing motorists on the notoriously dull, jam-prone road. Although the graffiti does divide opinions pertaining to its true meaning, it certainly brightens many journeys.
Update January 2019: This graffiti has now been removed by an unknown artist who has replaced the famous “Give Peas a Chance” message with “Give Helch a Break!!!”
Know Before You Go
The graffiti is visible on the anti-clockwise carriageway of the M25 Orbital Motorway, between junctions 17 and 16. It is illegal to stop on a U.K. motorway except in an emergency.