EUSTON ROAD, INCLUDING KINGS CROSS AND ST. PANCRAS STATIONS
It will be convenient to deal with the changes that have taken place
in this neighbourhood in a separate chapter. The first important innovation
was the building of the Euston Road, long known as "the New Road from
Paddington to Islington," which was sanctioned by Act of Parliament in
1756. (ref. 110) Many references to its course through the western part of the parish
occur in Part III of the Survey of St. Pancras. At its eastern end it cut through
sections of the Somers and Skinners' Company's Estates, severing the upper
angle of Battle Bridge Field and joining the main roads north, east and
south at the little common through which the Fleet river once flowed and
where it was crossed by the former Battle Bridge.
The Act of Parliament had stipulated that no buildings should be
erected on new foundations within fifty feet of the road, a provision designed
to placate the opposition to its formation, which was led by the Duke of Bedford. The result was that the road was wholly residential, with long gardens in
front of the houses and this pleasant effect was increased by laying out open
squares which faced one another, such as Park Square and Crescent, Endsleigh Gardens and Euston Square. Mackenzie's view (Plate 82a) shows the
road in 1825 at the height of its fashion. On the north opposite St. Pancras
(new) Church was Seymour Place, and Somers Place, a commanding block of
houses built on Lord Somers' Estate (now occupied by Euston Road Fire
Station); beyond were Judd Place, West and East, commemorating Sir
Andrew Judd, who gave the property to the Skinners' Company. These
last two terraces were on the site of the present Goods Depôt and St. Pancras
Station. East of this was Egremont Place (shown in Plate 5) which
extended to Pancras Road, leading to Highgate. The lower part of this was
called Weston Place and the houses on the south-west side are shown in a
drawing by C. J. Richardson (Plate 85) with St. Pancras Hotel in course of
erection behind them. Out of Weston Place there turned a lane called Brill
Lane, at the back of Judd Place East, which bent at right angles to the north
to skirt a brickfield between it and Pancras Road. Here was the Brill Tavern.
On the eastern side of Weston Place were the grounds of the Smallpox Hospital (Plate 79b) on the site of which now stands King's Cross Railway Station.
The hospital was moved here from Windmill Street, Tottenham Court Road,
in 1746. In 1791 Dr. William Woodville (1752–1805) was appointed
physician. The hospital appears to have been rebuilt in 1793–4, (ref. 75) when it
received the patients from Cold Bath Fields Hospital. It was increased in
size after Jenner's publication of his discovery of vaccination. Woodville,
who had published a book on inoculation, was at first sceptical of Jenner's
use of cow vaccine, but later accepted the new treatment with enthusiasm.
About 1846 the hospital was removed to a site at the foot of Highgate
Hill. <The preceding account of the smallpox hospital and its buildings is inaccurate. Known variously as the London Smallpox Hospital, or the Middlesex County Hospital for Smallpox, this charitable institution was established in 1745-6, originally in Windmill Street, but thereafter at various locations. In 1752-3 a 'spacious building' was erected at Coldbath Fields in Clerkenwell, to take inoculated patients who had developed symptoms, as well as those afflicted with the full-blown disease; at this stage patients were prepared for inoculation at a house in Old Street. The hospital's association with St Pancras began in 1763 when a house was purchased for inoculations, as that at Old Street was no longer large enough for the purpose. This house was replaced by a new building erected at St Pancras and opened in 1767 (illustrated in Plate 79b). Contrary to the Survey's original account, this hospital was not rebuilt in 1793-4; instead a new, separate hospital for diseased patients was erected alongside, on ground adjoining to the west, to designs by James Johnson, to replace the building formerly used at Coldbath Fields. This second hospital later became the London Fever Hospital. Both buildings are shown together at St Pancras on Greenwood's map of London of 1830. Both were demolished in the 1840s to make way for the Great Northern Railway Terminus (now Kings Cross Station), the fever hospital moving to a new building in Islington, in Liverpool Road, the smallpox hospital to a new building at Highgate (later part of the St Marys Wing of the Whittington Hospital). See, for example, A. Highmore, Pietas Londinensis: the History, Design, and Present State of ... Public Charities in and near London, 1814, pp.273-94 (esp. pp.287-94); and Survey of London, vol.XLVII, Northern Clerkenwell and Pentonville, Chapter 1 (forthcoming, 2008).>>
On the south side of Euston Road were built South Row (east of St.
Pancras Church), Tonbridge Place (on the Skinners' Company's Estate,
west and east of Judd Street) and Hamilton Place on the Battle Bridge Estate.
At the north-west corner of Argyle Street stands a stucco-faced building
formerly called the British College of Health and founded by Dr. James
Morison (1770–1840), the "Hygeist," who from philanthropic motives
produced a vegetable pill which brought him a fortune. Morison's pills
provoked great hostility from the medical profession and were the subject of
much satire. In the garden of his house was formerly an inscribed granite
memorial. (ref. 17)
Where the New Road joined Gray's Inn Road stood the great Dust
Heap known as Smith's (see Plate 75 and Tompson's map, Plate 81).
This was removed in 1826 when the ground was sold to the Panharmonium
Company. Outside No. 345 Gray's Inn Road there is still a stone which may
be a parish boundary stone or a milestone. The inscription is obliterated.
In the centre of the meeting place of Euston, Pentonville, Pancras,
Gray's Inn and King's Cross Roads was erected in 1830 the memorial
"cross" to the memory of George IV, which gave its new name to the locality. (fn. a)
It was an ambitious but not a successful design (Plate 83) by Stephen Geary,
architect. It took the form of a square building with paired Doric columns
at each angle, which was finished with a balustrade and supported a pedestal,
on the summit of which was a statue of the king. The pedestal carried a
clock and over the projecting entablature of the angle columns stood figures
of the patron saints of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. The lower
room was used successively as a place of exhibition, a police station, and
finally a beer shop. The statue was taken down in 1842, and the substructure
in 1845, an engraving of its demolition appearing in The Illustrated London
News of 15th February, 1845.
CXXXVII—King's Cross Station
The Great Northern Railway was incorporated by an Act of Parliament which received the royal assent on 26th June, 1846, (ref. 111) Its main purpose
was to connect York with London and its authorized capital was £8,137,800.
The design of King's Cross Station was entrusted to Lewis Cubitt, the brother
of Thomas Cubitt the builder. In the architect's own words he designed the
station to "depend for its effect on the largeness of some of its features, its
fitness for its purpose, and its characteristic expression of that purpose." (ref. 112)
In accordance with this intention the main brick arches of the façade, marking
the ends of the arrival and departure platforms, which are each 800 by 105 feet
in area, rise 71 feet to the crown. Between them is the clock tower, the clock
being that made by Dent for the British Avenue of the Great Exhibition
(Plate 84). The total width of the façade was 216 feet, and behind it was a
central booking office, with waiting rooms north and south, and a gallery overlooking the station. No attempt was made to raise the station above the lowlying site and the railway lines were therefore constructed under the Regent's
Canal immediately to the north. The glazed roofs over the station were
first carried by laminated wood arched trusses made according to a system
introduced by Colonel Emy, a French Military Engineer; each was built
up of sixteen thicknesses of 1½ inch boarding and set at intervals of 20 feet. (ref. 113)
This construction was replaced by iron principals between 1869 and 1887,
under Richard Johnson, the chief engineer to the railway.
The new station was opened on 14th October, 1852, but trains
had been running since August, 1850, from a temporary station north of it.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert used this route to go to Scotland in August,
1851. The goods station, covering some 45 acres, was also under construction
in 1850; it had water communication to the Docks and carried a large
traffic in coal. The estimated cost was: for the goods station and temporary
passenger station £155,504, the permanent passenger station £123,500,
and the hotel, also designed by Lewis Cubitt, £30,000. In 1852 it was
stated that the expenditure was within these figures. (ref. 114)
The construction of the Metropolitan (Underground) Railway was
begun in 1860, and it was opened on 10th January, 1863. King's Cross
Underground Station occupies the site of St. Chad's Well and was connected
to the Great Northern terminus by a subway.
CXXXVIII—St. Pancras Station
The Midland Railway, which was incorporated in 1844, (ref. 115) had for many
years no London terminus. By an Act of 1853 (ref. 116) it obtained running powers
over the Great Northern line, and by agreement with the latter company it
had the use of the goods sidings at King's Cross. These facilities were withdrawn in 1862 and the Midland Railway Company resolved to build their
own passenger and goods stations; parliamentary sanction for this was given
on 22nd June, 1863. (ref. 117) The land north of Euston Road, west of King's
Cross (including the area of the former Agar Town) was acquired, and the
plans prepared lacked nothing in their ambitious and far-reaching character.
The line to the new goods station was opened on 7th September,
1867. (ref. 118) The passenger station was opened on 1st October, 1868, the whole
of the staff, tickets, carriages, etc., being transferred from King's Cross
during the preceding night. (ref. 118) The building was, however, incomplete and
was not finished until some years later. The station is notable for its brilliant
constructional design, the work of the company's chief engineer, W. H.
Barlow, and for the remarkable station hotel, which forms its street frontage,
designed by Sir Gilbert Scott, who won the commission in open competition
in January, 1866.
There were two main considerations that dictated Barlow's masterly
design for the station. The first was the necessity for raising the permanent
way and consequently the platforms to a sufficient height to pass over the
Regent's Canal. Barlow saw the advantage this offered of extensive storage
space beneath the station floor for one of the chief commodities carried by the
company, barrels of Burton ale. The second was his desire to roof the
station itself in one span so that the platforms and the ground floor below
should be unimpeded by intermediate roof supports. This great construction
is 690 feet in length, the span is 240 feet and the height, to the apex of the
pointed arch of the roof, is 100 feet. It is carried by curved iron principals,
each 6 feet deep, set 29 feet 4 inches from centre to centre with three intermediate ribs carried by trussed purlins. The principals rest on brick piers
whose tops are level with the platforms, and the main floor of the station ties
the arched framework together. The platforms are 23 feet above Pancras
Road, and the floor is carried by 720 cast-iron columns arranged so that it
can carry an equal load throughout its area, thus giving complete freedom for
the arrangement of the lines and platforms above. An iron and glass screen
terminated the outward end of the station, and a second one was ultimately
provided between the station and the hotel.
Scott's design for the hotel had no relationship to the station's construction. For its purpose, to provide luxurious accommodation for travellers,
it received unqualified praise; as an architectural composition, it was at the
time hailed as "one of the chief ornaments of the metropolis," and seemed to
contemporaries to be the apotheosis of Gothic as applied to public buildings. (ref. 118)
This particular appeal has lost its force to-day and its extravagant elaboration
provokes more criticism than appreciation. But its monumental character
cannot be questioned and, as a whole, the Midland Station of St. Pancras
has won first place among the London termini of the railway companies that
are now merged in British Railways.