St. Pancras International
© copyright photographs by Colin Duff
St. Pancras station used to be off the radar of Southern enthusiasts. However, since the £800 million refurbishment of the station, the move of Eurostar services there and commencement of Southeastern high speed preview services this north of the Thames north facing terminus is now to be considered a Southern destination. The rebuilding of this 19th century edifice is truly magnificent and has created a world-class station fit for the 21st century. I am in two minds about moving the main circulating area to below the platforms. On the one hand it prevents the platform concourse from becoming the cluttered shopping mall that some stations and most airport departure lounges have become, on the other hand it divorces the passengers most of the time from the function of the building. The above picture shows the platform level concourse almost deserted when the below platform level is teeming like an ant hill. To be fair this was taken on 31st August 2001, a bank holiday Monday, but I wonder if it is any busier at this time on a normal weekday? I will return one day to find out. Though my recollections from the 1960s onwards of St. Pancras are all of a vast train shed with hardly anyone in sight!
Below, looking north towards the International platforms. Entry to these is from the departure lounge below. The restored vaulted train shed roof clearly shows Barlow's achievement.
Several items of art were commissioned for the station.
Above left is the 20 tonne cast bronze statue "Meeting Place" by Paul Day. The figures are modelled on the artist and his wife - hopefully scaled up, unless they are giants! Originally they were due to be kissing but this was considered be too racey. Considering what the area surrounding the station used to be notorious for, I find this change prudish in the extreme.
Above right is an eight and a half feet high depiction of the late Poet Laureate and railway enthusiast Sir John Betjeman, by artist Martin Jennings. Sir John is portrayed looking up at the train shed roof in awe. Sir John was, of course, chiefly responsible in the 1960s for changing public opinion and persuading the authorities against the prevailing demolition of railway structures of note to be replaced by modern buildings of no architectural merit. One hopes he would have approved of what is generally regarded as a sympathetic modernisation of this Victorian structure. My personal view is that it is far better to keep noted structures in use in a suitably restored form and available to the public rather than demolishing them or preserving them as lifeless museum exhibits.
All pictures taken on this page were taken on 31st August 2009 prior to departing on an Eurostar service to Paris. Hopefully more pictures will be added following further visits.