Tourists lose themselves in new London maze

Bemused tourists are flocking to a giant maze erected in London's Trafalgar Square.

The labyrinth of hedges, erected just for this week, is designed to encourage visitors to discover some of hidden gems of the British capital's West End area, famous for its theatres and shops.

The maze is divided into sections that each carry the name of a West End street. There are also blue plaques on display listing quirky facts about the area.

"We welcome tens of millions of people into the West End every week, but we wanted to encourage them to just go off the beaten track a little bit," said Brian Connell, chairman of the West End Partnership behind the project.

Some 5,000 people visited the maze, which measures 30 by 20 metres (98 by 65 feet), on its opening day Monday, and hundreds more queued for the chance to get lost amongst the shrubs before it closes Friday.

Eleven-year-old Brandon Webb from the United States was one of them. Emerging from the maze near the steps of the National Gallery, he told AFP: "It was really exciting.

"Once you get in, even if you lose your way, you always want to go back in for more." He said he had learned in the maze that the world's smallest police station is located in Trafalgar Square.

His mother Carrie Webb, 48, added: "It's a perfect idea for tourists and Londoners alike." She said the maze had inspired her to take her children to Covent Garden next. "It reminds you of what's around town."

For 85-year-old Evelyn Souter, who worked in the capital during the Second World War, the labyrinth was "a trip down memory lane". "It was very good. It gives an insight into the history of London," she said.

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