St Pancras & Kings Cross Stations
We always try and fit a visit in to the capital at Christmas time and living only 30 miles away it is a short journey into St Pancras International Station. I am always enthralled by the architecture of this station and I always notice the commuters and tourists who don’t think to gaze up and just stop for a moment and admire this wonder of Victorian engineering. They are probably too busy to even think about the work that went into constructing this Gothic masterpiece.
The station was built by the Midland Railway Company to connect London to some of the major cities around the country. The platform was raised on a deck of cast iron columns to allow steam engines pass over the Regents Canal. Underneath was storage for beer.
The roof is a 100ft high, 240ft wide and 700ft in length. and when it was first built in 1868 was the largest single spanned roof in the world.
Amazing to think that back in 1966 proposals were put forward by British Rail to demolish both St Pancras and Kings Cross stations. Thankfully protests from several people, notably the Poet John Betjeman meant that the station became Grade 1 listed in 1967. Later in 1993 the government decided to run the high speed Eurostars into the station and so it had to be doubled in length and an additional six new platforms were added.
This Christmas Tiffany displayed their ornate tree which at certain periods throughout the day, sprayed out a scent.
Standing on the platform is a larger-than-lifesize statue of poet John Betjeman by Martin Jennings. Betjeman had been the driving force behind efforts to save the site when it was threatened by development plans during the 1960s and the sculpture stands as a tribute from London and Continental Railways to the man who made their redevelopment of the station possible.
The larger than life-size statue of Betjeman depicts him walking into the new station for the first time. He is looking up at the great arc of the train shed - which he always did because it took his breath away. He is leaning back and holding onto his hat, his coat tails billowing out behind him, caught by the wind from a passing train.
You can always see some sporty cars parked outside St Pancras, on this occasion it was a Lamborghini. The nine metre high bronze statue is called ‘The Meeting Place’ and stands at the south end of the raised platform. Designed by British artist Paul Day and unveiled in 2007, it is intended to evoke the romance of travel through the depiction of a couple locked in an amorous embrace. Interestingly, it is modelled on the sculptor and his wife. Around the base there are reliefs of various railway scenes. It caused varied opinions on its unveiling but I for one really like it.
One of my first Airbnb trips was staying inside the apartment housed inside the clock tower of St Pancras Station, it still remains my favourite and was such a reasonable price. The inside of the clock tower has stunning views across the capital and it is furnished to such a high degree. I couldn’t find it on the site when I looked recently but you can contact Peter directly through his website
Standing right next to each other are St Pancras and Kings Cross and I often wondered why they were so close to each other. Back in the early Victorian era, businessmen competed with one another to bring the railway to new parts of the country, King's Cross is the more senior of the two stations. Built by the Great Northern Railway, it opened in 1852. The Great Northern Railway would have seen the likes of the Midland Railway as a rival. Midland spent years borrowing platforms at King's Cross and Euston, before eventually pouncing on some land to build its own terminus. And that's why there are two separate stations. St Pancras, opened in 1868. Five years later, George Gilbert Scott’s iconic hotel building was erected in an attempt to outshine King's Cross
The centrepiece of the £547m redevelopment in 2012 was the new vaulted, semi-circular concourse to the west of the existing station. The concourse rises some 20m and spans the full 150m-length of the existing Grade I Listed Western Range, The concourse has become Europe’s largest single-span station structure, comprising of 16 steel tree form columns that radiate from an expressive, tapered central funnel.
Kings Cross Tunnel. The subway tunnel is a newly built 90 metre long pedestrian tunnel. The beautifully designed tunnel links the two arterial transport hubs – St Pancras International and King’s Cross Underground stations.
The gently curving underground tunnel features an ‘art wall’ made from LED lights, which is used to showcase artistic commissions