Somers Town

[M]ost people have probably not heard of this area which has as its borders; Hampstead Road, Crowndale Road and Euston Road. But the Victorians certainly favoured it when building their termini for railways bound for the north, first building Euston Station (1837), King’s Cross Station (1852) closely followed by St. Pancras Station (1868). Once completed they then left the buildings to gather dust for 100 years.

Apart from a small excursion into modernity in the 1960s which proposed demolishing St. Pancras Station (saved at the 11th hour by John Betjeman); an early use for MDF to cover King’s Cross façade providing prostitutes and drug addicts shelter from the rain; and completing this hat trick by removing Euston Arch from the front of the station.The arch was in its time the largest Doric column ever built.

After that spate of vandalism they all sat down to rest and leave London’s stations alone for another 30 years.

300px-Kings_Cross_ILN_1852 This 1852 illustration shows King’s Cross Station after opening. It was constructed on the site of a smallpox hospital.

Thomas Cubitt’s original facade will soon be visible without the concourse extension, which is currently scheduled to be removed.

Now after another decade of development and an unprecedented level of investment, which has provided the finest fleet of shuttle buses in the Northern Hemisphere, this Sunday on the 29th November the Northern ticket hall to the west of King’s Cross mainline station will open. Quite why you call a ticket hall situated on the west flank of the station, the Northern ticket hall eludes me.

The old Great Northern Hotel is expected to reopen its 100 rooms to guests in 2012.

The old gasometers to the rear of King’s Cross Station will be re-erected and the King’s Cross Central development team, have set aside £2.4 million to create a new public space around Gasholder No. 8.

Central Saint Martins Art School has revealed it also has plans to move to a purpose built complex at Kings Cross in 2011. The move will create one college site thereby unifying the five schools at one location.

Exciting times for the area, unless that it, you’re a working girl looking for punters trying to shelter from the rain.

2 thoughts on “Somers Town”

  1. It is a very interesting area. You might also mention the Camley Street Natural Park behind St Pancras station, a surprising development of what was once a coal yard. Well worth a visit on a warm, sunny day.

    St Pancras is one of my favourite stations and one of the few that you can go to for social reasons, rather than to travel somewhere. The new frieze around the pediment of the famous giant sculpture of the embracing couple is a remarkable piece of work.

    Somers Town was also a landing strip for Spanish political refugees in the 19th century. Some went back home in happier times but others stayed and some subsequently made an important contribution to British intellectual life.

    I wonder whether there is anywhere else where there are two stations side by side like Siamese twins as is the case of Kings Cross and St Pancras.


    1. I have been off-line for 7 days but I’m back now. Yes I should have mentioned Camley Street Natural Park, there are not many areas in central London designated for natural habitat


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