Google+ London Architecture Blog: Week 11/13 Feature #4 St. Pancras Station

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Week 11/13 Feature #4 St. Pancras Station

St. Pancras Railway Station (St. Pancras International)
Architect: George Gilbert Scott (Station buildings and hotel) William Henry Barlow (station), Foster and Partners (masterplan), Chapman Taylor (refurbishment)
Date of completion: 1868 (Station) 1873 (Hotel and station buildings), 2007 (station refurbishment), 2011 (St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel Refurbishment)
Location: Euston Road, London Borough of Camden

St. Pancras is a railway station and hotel complex incorporating 15 railway platforms, Eurostar services, a five star hotel and a shopping complex. The station and hotel buildings are examples of Victorian Gothic architecture and are grade I listed.

St. Pancras Station was built to provide direct railway services from the Midlands, Yorkshire and the South East after routes into London became congested on the Great Northern Railway. Construction began in 1862 and was completed in 1868. William Henry Barlow was the engineer responsible for the design of the iron truss roof and George Gilbert Scott was the architect for the station buildings. Due to the surrounding topography the railways line enters St. Pancras at a raised level (12-17ft above ground) and the void underneath the lines was originally used for storage of beer, but is now used as a shopping complex. The hotel was constructed at the front of the site facing onto Euston Road between 1868 and 1873.

The station roof.

After key railway services were switched to nearby Euston in the 1920s questions were raised about the future of the station. The hotel closed in 1935 and the building was used as offices for British Railways. The station was bombed during World War II and although it was brought back into use, it was not completely repaired until the recent refurbishment of 2007. Continuing in it's decline, there were plans to demolish the building in the 1960s again due to the development of, and consolidation of trains into Euston. John Betjeman, a poet led the campaign to protect it and his success is today marked by a statue of him inside the station.

With the redevelopment of East London in the 1980s and 1990s, the railway line carrying the Eurostar was redirected to enter from the East and use St. Pancras instead of King's Cross as it's terminal. London continental Railways took over the British arm of the Eurostar project and began to reconstruct St. Pancras. After plans were initially drawn up by Nick Derbyshire of British Rail, Foster and Partners (project led by Alistair Lansley) became the architects behind the masterplan for the station working with Bechtel, Arup, Systra and Halcrow.

Elevation detail. Photograph courtesy Barbara Rich.

In order to accommodate the larger Eurostar trains and additional platforms, an extension was built at the northern end of the station. Part of the extension was completed and in use by 2004 by Midland Mainline. The remaining part was completed in 2006 and in 2007, the first Eurostar train arrive from Paris into St. Pancras. The new station was officially opened by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in November 2007.

The refurbished station with Eurostar trains. Photograph courtesy Barbara Rich.

The refurbishment and fitout works of the station were designed by Chapman Taylor Architects. The former Midland hotel (now the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel was also refurbished between 2006-2011 by Richard Griffiths Architects.

Detail of a capital. Photograph courtesy Barbara Rich.

Note: This article primarily covers St. Pancras station and does not concentrate on the hotel (now known as St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel and previously the Midland Hotel). It is anticipated that this will be covered at a later date.

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