London's West End plunged into darkness in power cut


Black Friday shoppers, tourists and theatre-goers were left out in the cold after a power cut plunged London's West End into darkness.

Shops and restaurants around Soho and Chinatown were left without power, while performances of Aladdin The Musical, Jersey Boys, Thriller Live, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time and Les Miserables were cancelled, with theatres offering refunds.

Despite the eerie scenes of darkness some people escaped having their nights out ruined, with theatregoer Sarah Ellacott saying "the power came back to a rapturous applause" at the performance of Harry Potter And The Cursed Child.

The blackout, caused by a fault in the electricity network, came at around 5.15pm on Friday, just as thousands of people leaving work and shoppers tried to bag bargains on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

At Piccadilly Circus the world-famous TV advertising hoarding was left blank, some nearby shops and cafes were forced to close, and offices and streets were left unusually dark.

Passer-by Adrie van der Luijt tweeted: "You can't see where you are walking throughout Soho, Shaftesbury Avenue, Piccadilly Circus and Chinatown. Astonishing. No traffic lights."

Traffic in the area was gridlocked, but many stores appeared to be fully-lit and Christmas lights strung across roads twinkled brightly.

Transport for London said the Tube network was not affected, but that travellers were held at the stations such as Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Circus to prevent overcrowding.

Both Scotland Yard and the London Fire Bridge said they had not been called out to any particular incidents.

Kurt Pollington, 56, who works for a steel company on nearby Bond Street, said: "I was on the bus down Piccadilly from Oxford Circus and half way down all the shop lights were out.

"Shoppers were leaving the stores and they just had emergency lights on. I got off just past the Cafe Royal and the shops on the left were all out. The famous Piccadilly neon lights were completely black and out and most of Chinatown was as well."

Mr Pollington said the power cut had caused gridlock around Shaftesbury Avenue, leaving a "weird atmosphere".

He said: "The lights were out in Regent Street - you can imagine the crossroads, it was all for one and one for all. A couple behind me on the bus were saying it was ironic that it was Black Friday and that the shops were all blacked out."

UK Power Networks, which owns and maintains electricity cables in London, said engineers managed to restore power to same areas by re-routing around the fault, before power was fully back on by 9pm.

The organisation tweeted: "We're very sorry for the disruption this caused to everyone's evening."