Poor old King’s Cross Station.
My earliest memories of it go back to the days when filled with excitement I’d accompany my father to London for The Motor Show at Earl’s Court. In those days I never saw the exterior, being whipped straight down into the tunnels and passageways that connect it to the London Underground. We’d return after dark, replete from the inevitable visit to an Angus Steakhouse and immediately board the sleeper train home with no time for exploration.
In the late 70’s and early 80’s I would undertake the trip alone to attend or deliver training courses in the capital. Now I had to endure the crush of people in the departure concourse, queuing for platform gates to open, hunting for over-priced refreshments, fighting to get to anywhere that might provide a seat. Now I had time to venture outside.
In doing so my motivation would have been to find a taxi, or a half decent café. Euston Road and the King’s Cross area weren’t attractive possibilities in their own right.
When I did venture outside my memory is of a featureless facade dominated by signage featuring the station’s name in bold black and white. It might not even be a reliable memory as pictures show it in green and white. Perhaps they were more recent, but whatever the colour it was not a place of beauty.
All of that has changed now.
That departure concourse has been removed, the original facade in characteristically yellow London brick has been revealed and cleaned. They’re installing a Henry Moore to give a bit of culture. The adjoining hotel has been given a makeover.
And yet it’s still the poor neighbour. All those years when I was a regular visitor the gothic behemoth next door was slumbering and unused, but coinciding with the regeneration of King’s Cross has been the rebirth of St Pancras, now the departure point for Eurostar services to the continent. Suddenly the spires and arches were cleaned, the hotel refurbished, the concourses redesigned and something more akin to an airport created inside. St Pancras is magnificent. (Click on the pictures to enlarge them and appreciate the detailed craftsmanship)
It’s little surprise that in the second Harry Potter film, Harry and Ron, who had just missed the train from King’s Cross and commandeered a flying car, should be filmed buzzing the clock tower of St Pancras instead.
Still, King’s Cross does at least have Platform 9¾. And this…