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A pictorial history of King’s Cross Station

KING’S Cross Station is named in honour of George IV. Fitting, perhaps, that our pictorial history of the grand London terminus (born: 1852) should feature many images of the Royal Family to-ing and fro-ing.

In a move to raise the rather tarnished image of the area, a statue of King George IV was erected at the Battle Bridge crossroads in 1830. The statue attracted ridicule and was demolished in 1842, but the new name for the area – ‘King’s Cross’ – stuck. Between 1849 and 1852 the Great Northern Railway (GNR) developed their London terminus in the area. The GNR purchased land for the station to the south of the canal and land to the north for its goods station and steam locomotive depot.

King’s Cross was never the smartest area.

The story of King’s Cross begins with the Fleet River and a small settlement, which grew up at a place known as Battle Bridge, named after an ancient crossing of the Fleet River which flows beneath, near the northern end of present-day Gray’s Inn Road.

Some of the earliest enterprises in the area were the spas, which developed around the Fleet’s springs, becoming fashionable resorts in the eighteenth century. It was, however, an early attempt at traffic planning which determined the area’s fate. Thomas Coram built the Foundling Hospital for children in 1742-1747 just south of the present day King’s Cross and ten years later, in 1756, the New Road was cut across the fields from east to west to channel traffic away from the city centre. Today, as the ever-busy Euston Road, it serves the same purpose.

By the early-nineteenth century Battle Bridge had become a depressing place. It was low lying and subject to flooding. The Smallpox Hospital had been built in 1769 and a fever hospital was added in 1802. It had become notorious for its tile kilns, rubbish tips and noxious trades.

On a personal note, I lived in this part of Islington for some time; family member’s worked in the roads behind St Pancras, the grander station next door. Noxious trades were often those in human flesh: no trip to buy first-edition newspapers or to the all-night Scala cinema and Mole Jazz was complete without an offer to buy sex or drugs.

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Posted: 8th, August 2013 | In: Flashback, Key Posts | Comment


Woman wonders around Kings Cross station with a plant pot on her head (photos)

HAVE you seen the women who wonders about London’s Kings Cross St Pancras station with a plant pot on her head. The place used to be full of pot heads…and prostitutes? Is it fetish wear?

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Posted: 12th, September 2012 | In: Strange But True | Comment