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.
Now it’s clean and smart; lots of glass-fronted offices; coffee shops; a the nearby British Library; and no all-night cinema where vagrants came to sleep and speed freaks went to toss lit airplanes at the screen showing a a night of horror and neglected gems.
The captions to this gallery are the original words written by the PA and AP news agencies. They are enlightening; such as the one calling Prince Charles a “large” boy. All life is there:
People queue at King’s Cross station in London, as Eurostar said services were being cancelled and “severely delayed” due to speed restrictions in England and France.
The official return of 100,000 Londoners to their homes began oJune 4, when the first ” Devacuse” train arrived at St. Pancras station bringin 800 mothers and children from Leicester. Buses awaited to take the mothers and kiddies to dispersal centres where, after a hot meal, they went to their homes. Some of the mothers and children after de-training at St. Pancreas in London on June 4, 1945 waiting to board buses for dispersal points. (AP Photo)
With an average of two people a day dying of AIDS in Britain, the government is blitzing the nation with warning posters as part of its 20 million pound (30-million-dollar) media campaign, March 5, 1987. This poster confronts passengers at the Kings Cross subway station in central London. The British Government approved an experimental drug – AZT – which is manufactured by the Welcome Foundation Drug Company, for the treatment of AIDS. (AP Photo/Gillian Allen)
A platform at Kings Cross Station in London as it is transformed into Platform 9 3/4 during filming of the latest Harry Potter film.
Mink-coated Princess Margaret and her husband, Antony Armstrong-Jones, walk through London?s Kings Cross railway station on their return on Sept. 24, 1960 from summer vacation on the royal Balmoral Estate in Scotland. The princess holds her King Charles spaniel on a leash. (AP Photo)
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II waits for a First Capital Connect train to depart from Kings Cross Station in London, from where she travelled by scheduled service to Kings Lynn in Norfolk. She will later travel onto Sandringham where she will spend Christmas with her family.
TV presenter Richard Dimbleby, left, watches the driver of the ‘Night Scot’ locomotive oil the wheels, at Kings Cross Station.
The Prince of Wales, who is large for his age – he’ll be 11 on Nov. 14 – wears schoolboy shorts as he walks through London’s King’s Cross station, Sept. 21, 1959, on his way to boarding school. Behind him is his governess, Catherine Peebles. Standard practice at most British boarding school is for boys to wear shorts until they are 13 years old no matter how big they get. (AP Photo)
Manchester United captain Noel Cantwell tries to place a teddy bear mascot atop the FA Cup, watched by teammate Maurice Setters, as the triumphant United team begin their journey back to Manchester from St Pancras station, a day after beating Leicester City 3-1 in the FA Cup Final.
A man stands outside King’s Cross station cloakroom, London, England, Tuesday, June. 19, 1934. It was at this location that a suitcase containing a pair of legs was discovered. Mysteriously, the dismembered body of a woman was also found at Brighton railway station yesterday. (AP Photo)
Undated South Yorkshire Police handout of CCTV footage showing 14-year-old Andrew Gosden at Kings Cross station on the 14 September last year. The teenager who disappeared from his home in Doncaster a year ago.
Stock: The Meeting Place, a 30ft high bronze statue by British artist, Paul Day, that stands in London’s St Pancras Station.
‘The Flying Scotsman’ , probably the world’s best known train, celebrates it’s centenary today (Monday) and here is the train as it passes Holloway Station (closed in 1915) between King’s Cross and Finsbury Park. It is being drawn by a Great Northern Railway Stirling 8-footer No.53 (built in 1875).
Roger Kemp from north London, the first passenger aboard the first Eurostar train to depart from London Waterloo at 8:23am on November 14, 1994, and the first today, with his ticket at the new terminal at St Pancras station.
Eurostar train driver Marc Favreau arrives on the first high speed train from Paris at the new terminal at St Pancras station.
The coffin of King George VI leaves Kings Cross Station on its way to Westminster hall.
Mr Archie Grice with the first baskets of grouse to arrive at King’s Cross station from the Yorskhire Moors on the first day of the new shooting season
A handout photo dated December 1944 during World War II of a canteen at Kings Cross and St Pancras underground station in central London.
Young train spotters take down locomotive numbers at London Kings Cross station.
A chalked blackboard sign posted at Kings Cross railway station. The Falkland islands were invaded by Argentinian forces.
A London Underground train pulls into Kings Cross Station.
King’s Cross station memorial plaque, which names all the commuters who lost their lives on 7/7/2005 during Londons terrorist attacks.
A two minute’s silence is observed at Kings Cross Tube station, London, as the capital remembers last years terrorist bombings.
London Underground staff and commuters stop for a two minutes silence in Kings Cross Tube station, London, as the capital remembers last years terrorist bombings.
Charlie McLaughlin, health and safety manager of one of the contractors of the newly-completed Stratford international train station checks a tunnel aboard a train, in east London, Thursday April, 20, 2006. The station will join to the Channel Tunnel rail service that links London with Paris and Brussels and will also ferry passengers in seven-minute journeys between the 2012 Olympic site and Kings Cross station in central London. The International Olympic Committee’s Coordination Commission are visiting London to receive the first reports on preparations for the 2012 London Games and to visit games-related sites. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Image shows the trunk in which the dismembered body of a woman was found, at Brighton railway station in England, on June. 18, 1934. Two days later the body of a newborn baby girl was found packed in a straw basket at the same location. Also, a suitcase containing a pair of legs was found at King’s Cross station in London.
** FOR USE AS DESIRED WITH YEAR END–FILE **In this image provided by commuter Alexander Chadwick, taken on his mobile phone camera, passengers are evacuated from an underground train in a tunnel near Kings Cross station in London in thisfile photo, following a bomb explosion.
File photo dated 18/11/87 of the escalators at King’s Cross after a fire in the underground station. Rail workers and firefighters will join a demonstration Saturday November 26, 2005, to voice their opposition against plans to change safety regulations introduced after the 1987 King’s Cross fire, in which 31 people died. See PA story INDUSTRY Fire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Photo credit should read: PA.
An unidentified member of the public reads floral tributes laid outside King’s Cross train station in London, Sunday July 10, 2005 in memory of those that lost their lives and were injured as a result of the London bombings on Thursday July 7, 2005. A bomb exploded on the underground line between Russell Square and King’s Cross underground stations Thursday. The bombing attacks killed 49 people and injured 700. (AP Photo/Jane Mingay)
A woman wipes away tears as she observes a moment of silence in remembrance of the victims of Thursday’s London bombings, during a memorial in a park near King’s Cross station in central London, Saturday July 9, 2005. Police revised the timing of the deadly blasts that tore through the London Underground, saying on Saturday the explosions were detonated just seconds apart and were so powerful that none of the 49 dead have been identified and bodies remain trapped deep inside a subway tunnel. Hundreds have been reported missing. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
People join hands in remembrance of the victims of Thursday’s London bombings, during a commemoration in a park near King’s Cross station in central London, Saturday July 9, 2005. Police revised the timing of the deadly blasts that tore through the London Underground, saying on Saturday the explosions were detonated just seconds apart and were so powerful that none of the 49 dead have been identified and bodies remain trapped deep inside a subway tunnel. Hundreds have been reported missing. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Police officers guard the entrance to King’s Cross underground station, Friday, July 8, 2005. Commuters in London reluctantly descended into the Underground on Friday morning, attempting to return to routine in the aftermath of four rush-hour blasts that killed at least 50 people Thursday. Police said the attacks had the signatures of the al-Qaida terror network. (AP Photo / Sang Tan)
Kings Cross Station, built in 1851-1852 for the Great Northern Railway to serve Yorkshire, the north-east of England and Scotland. The engineer was Joseph Cubitt and the station was designed by his older brother, Lewis Cubitt. The Metropolitan Line, which connects King’s Cross with the City and Paddington, was the first Underground in the world, and was opened in 1863.
Undated handout photo comparing a picture of Alexander Williamson Fallon, the final victim of the 1987 fire that destroyed Kings Cross Underground train station in London to be identified, with the police reconstruction that helped identify him. His body remained unidentified for 16 years and was buried in a pauper’s grave. Best available quality.
The Cheeky Girls at the launch of the new “2-1” rail initiative, at Kings Cross Station, London. The scheme, backed by the 12 London rail companies and the Mayor’s “Totally London” campaign, offers travellers 2 for 1 rail fares and entry to some of London’s top attractions.
HM Customs and Excise dog handler Rob Pike and his dog Jess check passengers for large amounts of cash at London’s King’s Cross railway station as part of Operation Payback. Customs and Excise and police want to seize the proceeds of criminal activity being brought into London for laundering from other parts of the UK. As part of the initiative, dogs trained to detect the ink on currency notes will be used on trains and platforms to detect large amounts of cash concealed either on passengers or in their bags.
Maintenance workers labour to repair the track outside King’s Cross Station, London, after Tuesday’s derailment of a passenger train.
General views of St Pancras in London.
General views of Kings Cross station in London.
General views of St Pancras in London.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson views the new square at King’s Cross station.
Princess Elizabeth, her two children Prince Charles and Princess Anne, and Princess Margaret arrive in London from Scotland after their Deeside holiday. The baby Princess Anne is carried by nurse Lightbody, with Prince Charles seated beside Princess Elizabeth. The Royal car is seen leaving King’s Cross Station, London. *Low-res scan – Hi-res scan on request
‘Cloud: Meteoros’ a new artwork by Lucy and Jorge Orta which is suspended from the roof of King’s Cross St Pancras station in London.
Actors (l-r) Sammy Winward, Verity Rushworth and Amy Nuttal board the train from Kings Cross Station on a trip to celebrate 30 years of Emmerdale.
Passengers wait for trains at Kings Cross mainline station as flooding delays services. Heavy rain plunged thousands of commuters into travel chaos as flash floods cut off many areas of the country. * In the space of just half-an-hour London saw 1.18in (3cm) of rainfall as storms swept through England and north of the border. While London saw the worst of the bad weather, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire were also battling against the elements, with the rain set to move towards East Anglia and Kent overnight. 09/06/2004 More people are arriving late for work because of worsening travel delays, costing the British economy an extra 2 billion, according to a survey of 6,000 workers by recruitment website reed.co.uk Wednesday June 9, 2004. The number of workers arriving an hour or more late has risen by 5% over the past year and employers are set to lose 11 million hours every week because of their staff’s commuting problems, up by a third over the year.
British Transport policeman, PC Steve Hanson, 30, from Bletchley, Bucks, recovering in University College Hospital after plastic surgery for burns sustained in the horror blaze at King’s Cross Underground Station.
Actor Sean Connery and actress Lana Turner who are appearing together in the film “Another Time Another Place”, arriving at London Kings Cross Station.
Travellers waiting for trains at London’s St Pancras station (part of a series of images taken and processed on the iPhone)
The leader of the Liberal Party, Mr. Jo Grimond, is greeted by Mr. David Brooke (shaking hands and holding placard) and other Liberals, notably Mr. Robin Day ( far right), on Mr. Grimond’s arrival at King’s Cross station, London, from Aberdeen. Mr. Grimond has left his constituency, Orkney and Shetland, to open the Liberals’ general election campaign with a meeting at the Central Hall, Westminister, London.
General View of Kings Cross St Pancras Station decorated with Olympic Rings – London
Rail passengers at King’s Cross Station in London face delays as they wait for trains. Passengers face a day of frustration with predictions of packed trains at the start of what seemed set to be the most chaotic Christmas get-away for years. * Drivers are urged to stagger journeys amid fears of gridlocked roads, while rail passengers faced difficulties, with crowd control measures expected to continue at major train stations to cope with overcrowding.
Author, Joanne Kathleen Rowling, 34, (J K Rowling) at Kings Cross Station London, at the launch of her new Harry Potter book, ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’. * The fourth book, in series of seven which have now combined sold more than 35 million copies, The Goblet of Fire has achieved advanced sales of two million.
Nottinghamshire businesman Alan Pegler and his wife (name not known), look on proudly at the certificate of ownership for the legendary steam-locomotive The Flying Scotsman. Mr Pegler purchased the engine for ¬£3,000 when British Rail announced it was not intending to preserve any of the Pacific Class locomotives, despite their historical importance.
Queen Elizabeth II and The Duchess of Cambridge arrive at Kings Cross St Pancras Station, London, before boarding a train to visit the city of Leicester on the first date of her Diamond Jubilee tour of the UK.
Arthur Greenwood, left, and Clement Atlee at King’s Cross Station on their departure for Edinburgh after they had seen the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in London, on Oct. 8, 1936. (AP Photo)
6 year old Prince Andrew with one of the royal corgis, and his 2 year old brother Prince Edward arrive at King’s Cross Station, London, after an overnight journey from Aberdeen.
A deserted King’s Cross Station in London during the Rail Strike
Scotland soccer fans arrive at Kings Cross station in the capital ahead of the Euro 2000 qualifier 2nd leg football match against England at Wembley stadium.
Mail bags are collected at King’s Cross Station, London
Trolleys laden with bags full of letters and parcels await collection at King’s Cross Station, London by Post Office vans, which are fewer than usual owing to the postal workers pay strike. Numbers of workers is down by about 10,000 following the strikes
PA News Photo 8/3/89 An aerial view of London’s Kings Cross station, the starting point of British Rail’s proposed high speed rail link to the Channel Tunnel.
InterCity mark 4, in Kings Cross station after it was withdrown from service early this morning (Wednesday) following a derailment, and then brought back into service at 1500. Photo by Andrew Stuart/PA.
PA NEWS PHOTO 19/11/87 6817-6 AT LEAST 30 PEOPLE DIED AND SCORES INJURED IN A FIRE AT LONDON’S BUSIEST UNDERGROUND STATION IN KINGS CROSS
Jimmy Savile, former “Jim’ll Fix It” presenter, celebrates Great North Eastern Railways’ (GNER first birthday, by launching its new high speed train at Kings Cross Station today (Monday).