Cost£123,500 (original construction)
Solved the problem
Renovations improved passenger capacity and experience
New commercial and recreational space available behind the station
Renovations protected the listed Victorian buildings
The departure point for the North
King’s Cross station was designed by Lewis Cubitt, whose vision for the terminus was “fitness for purpose and the characteristic expression of that purpose”.
It consisted of two long brick train sheds for the arrival and departure platforms, which were separated by a strong arched wall. Each platform hall had an iron and glass roof (originally made of wood).
The front of the station's made up of two large, glazed arch windows and a clocktower feature.
The clock was designed by Edward Dent and had previously won a medal at the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park (1851) before being installed at the station.
Jump forward to 1997, when the main station became famous due to the first of the world-famous Harry Potter books.
The protagonist, Harry, departs for his wizardry school on the Hogwarts Express, which leaves from King’s Cross, from Platform 9¾.
A popular photo opportunity is now in place at the station so that ‘Potterheads’ can commemorate their visit to the site.
Now, just north of the station and beyond the canal, you’ll also find King’s Cross Central and Coal Drop’s Yard: a mix of new commercial schemes, an extensive retail and restaurant area, a new campus for London’s University of the Arts and Google’s UK HQ.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter arrives at King's Cross station to catch the Hogwarts Express from the mysterious Platform 9¾.
Visit Platform 9¾
Harry Potter fans are able to snap their picture next to a mid-disappearing trolley at the station. There's also a Harry Potter shop available to pick up your wand before boarding the train to Hogwarts!
Interior view of King's Cross station
Passengers can wait for their trains comfortably at the station, with a clear view of departure boards and plenty of options for food and drink.
Did you know …
Britain’s most famous train in the early 1920s, the Flying Scotsman, left King’s Cross at 10am every morning for its fast run to Edinburgh Waverley.
Over 47 million people use King’s Cross every year.
Harry Potter fans can take a photo at Platform 9¾ in the station, wearing their house colours. Are you a Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff or Slytherin?
A pressing need for expansion
The original design of the station was compromised by a rapid increase in traffic and lack of space to expand.
King’s Cross was quickly developing local passenger services to north London suburbs and Hertfordshire by the 1860s.
Trains from the Metropolitan Railway, goods trains, cross-London trains, and suburban services from north London all had to squeeze through King’s Cross tunnels.
Daily departures from the station (mostly suburban) grew from 19 in 1855, to 89 in 1873.
By 1881, the number of ticketholders was approaching 15,000. Additional tunnels were added just outside the station, and extra platforms were installed.
However, pressure continued until the 1930s, when extensions to the Piccadilly and Northern line on the London Underground helped spread commuter traffic.
King’s Cross held the image of the ‘great departure point for the North’, but in reality, it offered poor service to passengers.
Diesel trains replaced steam at King’s Cross in the 1960s, but little change was made to the station.
It was extended with a modern single-storey travel centre in 1974, but passengers still had to queue in lines that snaked around the small platform.
Redevelopment improves capacity and passenger experience
In 1987, a dropped cigarette on the Piccadilly line escalators of the underground station at King’s Cross resulted in a fire that led to the death of 31 people. This tragedy sparked change.
A plan for redevelopment of King’s Cross and St Pancras stations was prepared in the 1990s.
In 2005, Network Rail announced a £500-million restoration plan. It involved restoring and reglazing the original arched trainshed roof and removing the 1970s extension at the front of the station.
Two large subsurface booking halls for London Underground were completed in 2009.
The area between the station and Euston Road was cleared to create a plaza called King’s Cross Square, which features two underground entrances and a Henry Moore sculpture. It also allows travellers to appreciate Cubitt’s original design.
A new semi-circular departures concourse opened in 2012. It’s covered by a single span roof that links the Great Northern Hotel and the station without touching the Victorian buildings.
Finally, a £1.2 billion investment has led to the realignment of the track layout and platforms at the station.
Tracks, signalling and overhead line equipment were replaced, increasing the number of tracks running into the station from four to six.
This work increased capacity on the East Coast Main Line between London, the north of England and Scotland.
People who made it happen
- Designer: Lewis Cubitt
- Engineers: Sir William and Joseph Cubitt
- Stakeholders: Great Northern Railway (now LNER)
- Network Rail, John McAslan + Partners, Stanton Williams, Arup, Tata Steel Projects, Laing O’Rourke, Costain JV, Carillion, Vinci Construction UK, Kier Rail
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