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King's Cross gazetteer

By Bob Carr

The area to the north of King's Cross and St Pancras Stations was generally regarded as the best in London for industrial archaeology but recent redevelopment has changed this. For those trying to make sense of what's left some of the following may still be there:-

302 834 Site of King's Cross Station locomotive depot yard, constructed 1923 involving the removal of a dock off the Regent's Canal which had served the Imperial Gas Works. Now mostly a car park.

300 833 Battle Bridge Flats. Built 1936 for the British Steelwork Association. Steel frame with external cavity brickwork. Iron window frames, tubular steel balustrades. DEMOLISHED.

Formerly 299 833, now 298 841, Midland Railway locomotive watering facility in Gothic Style (listed grade 2). Brick with Portland stone dressings. An attractive feature matching St Pancras railway station and hotel (now rather out of sight of both). THIS HAS BEEN MOVED IN THREE PARTS FROM 299 833 TO THE NORTH TO 298 841 AND PUT BACK TOGETHER.

301 833 Site of St Pancras gasworks, Battlebridge Road. Built as the headquarters works of the Imperial Gas Co, first gas made August 1824. Originally 11 acres. Holders date from 1861. Works taken over by Gas Light and Coke Co in 1876. Gas making stopped in 1902 and works demolished 1907. One gasholder, number 8, remains.

Gasworks, 30.5.08. © Robert Mason Gasholder Place, 2017. © Robert Mason

302 832 Culross Buildings, Battle Bridge Road. GNR late 19th-century accommodation for its employees, named after GNR chairman, Lord Colville of Culross KT, who succeeded to the post in 1880 and maintained that position until 1895. Heating by galvanised iron ducts circulating warm air. Landings with iron balustrades. Cast iron ash disposal hatches.

Culross Buildings, 30.5.08. © Robert Mason

301 832 Stanley Buildings, off Pancras Road. Built 1864-5 by Improved Industrial Dwellings Company. Stock brick with attractive cast iron balconies for access. Balconies have dust and ash chutes down the spine of the stairwells. Ground floor has a stucco finish.

302 832 German Gymnasium, Cheney Road. (Listed grade 2 - should survive the redevelopment of the King's Cross area). Built 1864-5 by the German Gymnastic Society for German businessmen living in London to exercise. Non-Germans admitted later. (Not a healthy spot to choose surrounded by main line termini and a gasworks?). An important feature is the laminated timber arches which support the roof, (cf original King's Cross train shed and St Paul's Presbyterian Church, West Ferry Road E14 [372 789]). Architecturally speaking reminiscent of Munich of the time. "Round Arched" style. Polychrome brickwork. The former separate entrance building to the west at 26, Pancras Road had "Turnhalle" over door and relief mouldings of a bearded face BUT IS NOW DEMOLISHED.

German Gymnasium, 30.5.08. © Robert Mason

301 830 St Pancras Station, listed grade 1. Opened 1868. Rails at first floor level 15 feet above Euston Road. Formerly accommodation for goods wagons in the basement, access by hydraulic lift just to the north of the platforms. Basement used to store beer from Burton-on-Trent. Train shed by William Barlow, magnificent 245ft 6in clear span roof. Ironwork by Butterley Co of Derbyshire. Do not miss figures of railway men in the stonework around the Booking Office.

St Pancras station, 30.5.08. © Robert Mason St Pancras station, 2017. © Robert Mason

301 829 St Pancras Hotel, by Sir George Gilbert Scott in Gothic style. Built 1868-1876. Frontage 565ft contained 400 bedrooms, large dining room and reading room. Clock tower 270ft high. Closed as a hotel 1935 and since used for offices. Was originally intended to be even more ornate but money exhausted, eg statues omitted. St Pancras station and hotel are now admired architecturally but at one time were considered vulgar.

Midland Grand Hotel, 30.5.08. © Robert Mason

302 830 King's Cross Hotel, by Lewis Cubitt 1854. Impressive building listed grade 2 but very likely to be demolished during the coming redevelopment of the area. Curve of building follows the original road line to the west.

Great Northern Hotel, 30.5.08. © Robert Mason

302 831 King's Cross station, listed grade 1. Constructed 1850-54 by Lewis Cubitt (architect) and William Cubitt (engineer). The largest railway station in Britain when opened. Yellow stock brick. The arches of the train shed were originally of laminated timber but replaced 1869 (east side), 1887 (west side). This famous station was built relatively cheaply (£123,500) and has long been admired architecturally.

Kings Cross station, 30.5.08. © Robert Mason

302 832 King's Cross Suburban Station, 1875 extended 1880, 1895, 1924. Horse Wharf, named as such until recently, then Motorail Terminal.

302 829 Parish boundary markers. Fluted cast iron posts marked "St. P. P. M." on traffic island at the junction of Pancras Road and Euston Road.

304 831 Former offices for Wilkinson, Heywood & Clark, varnish and colour makers, 7 Caledonian Road. Built 1885 in Arts and Craft style. Broseley tiles on upper stories. Warehouse at the back. Original firm moved out c1910.

304 830 "Flat-iron" building on the corner of Pentonville Road and Gray's Inn Road, surmounted by a "lighthouse". The term "flat iron" presumably is American, coming from Chicago. It is probably a quite recent appellation.

Flat-iron building, 30.5.08. © Robert Mason

305 829 Reinforced concrete cinema. Initially the 'King's Cross', later 'Gaumont', now the 'Scala'. Seats 1800, completed 1921. One of the first large cinemas of the mass (silent) cinema-going era.

Scala, 2019. © Robert Mason

303 832 Former Islington and North London Shoe Black Brigade refuge and home, 30 York Way. Built 1868. The Shoe blacks moved out in the 1890s and were replaced by a canning works. Motor garage/workshops from 1920.

303 834 Remains of York Road railway station opened 1866. The platform here was for trains en route to Moorgate via the Metropolitan railway "widened lines".

300 834 Lock Keeper's Cottage (formerly a pumping station for the Regent's Canal to mitigate water losses through frequent use of locks). Yellow stock brick.

St Pancras Lock, 2017. © Robert Mason

303 838 Entrance to former York Road underground railway station, Piccadilly Line. Opened 1906, closed 1932. Characteristic style obvious when pointed out. Architect Leslie Green.

York Road underground railway station, 2019. © Robert Mason

298 834 Approximate site of St Pancras ironworks where Sir Henry Bessemer made bronze powder and later produced the first steel in quantity. Here was the pilot plant for the Bessemer Process. Bessemer came to what was then "Baxter House" before 23.9.1841 and established his works behind the house. The site was cleared about 1870 for Midland Railway coal drops. (For an account of Bessemer's work at Baxter House see Sir Henry Bessemer FRS, an autobiography, 1905).

NOTE - 298 834 is a grid reference.

© GLIAS, 2008