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Book reviews — February 2007

'St Pancras Station', by Simon Bradley
Published by Profile Books Ltd, 30 January 2007. 224 pages. ISBN: 1861979967
This year St Pancras Station opens a new chapter in its illustrious and chequered history with the arrival of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link into a new expanded terminus which will make it the main hub for rail travellers between the UK and Europe.

To mark this key development Simon Bradley, editor of the World Famous Buildings of England series, has written a fascinating account of the station, from its origin as the Midland Railway's London terminus built in the 1860s to the current futuristic train shed.

The public face of the station, the Midland Grand Hotel designed by George Gilbert Scott, is the grandest monument of the Gothic Revival in Britain and will be reborn as a luxury hotel 70 years after it closed to guests.

The Victorian train shed, for many years the widest single-span structure in the world, will be reconditioned to house six new platforms and be extended to accommodate the long Continental trains.

All this is remarkable considering that demolition was a genuine prospect in the mid-1960s.

Bradley charts the rise, fall and renaissance of this much loved building with keen architectural insight coupled with a learned context for transport and social historians.

The book is highly readable without being too academically dense. Thus the story of how the Midland Railway contributed to the popularity of Melton Mowbray pies sits comfortably with details of William Henry Barlow's engineering work on the train shed.

An essential read.

© GLIAS, 2007