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London’s Kings Cross Station – 10 Hidden Secrets Revealed!

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Kings Cross Station

Kings Cross Station

 

The land around Kings Cross Station has played a significant part in the history of London.

From the Roman remains, this area appeared to be site of a crossing of River Fleet, one of the tributaries of the River Thames. In 61AD, it is said to be the area of the legendary battle between Queen Boudicca and the Roman invaders. Boudicca was the Queen of the British Iceni tribe who led a serious uprising to the occupying forces of the Roman Empire. Hence, the name of Battlebridge is used in this area like Battlebridge Basin, Battlebridge Road.

 

The Front Entrances of Kings Cross Station. This station was designed by Lewis Cubitt and completed in 1950. This images shows the open spaces of the Kings Cross Square.

The Front Entrances of Kings Cross Station. This station was designed by Lewis Cubitt and completed in 1950. This images shows the open spaces of the Kings Cross Square.

This area remained open fields until the 18th Century where it became a transport hub for roads going from central London to the northern suburbs (Kentish Town, Hampstead). In 1830, a 60 foot (18 metre) monument of King George IV was erected at the cross roads of Gray’s Inn Road, Pentonville Road and Euston Road. This structure was unpopular so in 1845, it was pulled down but the name “Kings Cross” remained.

Regents Canal, completed in 1820, links the Grand Union Canal which connects the Industrial Cities of the North to the Port of London in the River Thames.

Kings Cross was the hub with warehouses for the various goods which were transported by the barges on the canals.

  • Agricultural goods and coal from the North for distribution in London.
  • Products from the industrial North were either destined for London or overseas.
  • Overseas goods landed in the Port of London were transported to Kings Cross prior to dispatch to the Northern Cities.

 

In 1850, Kings Cross Station was built as the Terminus for the Great Northern Railway. This connected London to the agricultural areas of East Anglia and the coal fields of the North East. There was greater capacity to carry the goods in both directions faster. The warehouses got even larger. Many of the warehouses are still present to this day but with a different purpose.

This area went into decline in the 1960s but redevelopment started in the 21st Century.

The travel article describes the 10 quirky facts of Kings Cross Station

 

  1. Platform 0 at Kings Cross Station

Platform 0 at Kings Cross Station

Platform 0 at Kings Cross Station

 

The only Platform 0 in the 14 London Railway Termini stations.

 

  1. Platform 9

Platform 9 at Kings Cross Station

Platform 9 at Kings Cross Station

 

Allegedly, the burial location of Queen Boudicca after her defeat at nearby Battlebridge.  No matter the quality of the evidence, it is unlikely there would be an excavation in this busy railway station. I dread to think of the transport chaos that it would cause. What comes to mind is the successful excavation of King Richard III in a car park in Leicester.

 

Queen Boudicca - lead the Iceni People in 61AD against the Romans. This is the only image of Boudicca. There were no pictorial records in those days.

Queen Boudicca – lead the Iceni People in 61AD against the Romans. This is the only image of Boudicca.

 

 

  1. Platform 9¾ at Kings Cross Station

Platform 9¾ at Kings Cross Station as described in J K Rowling’s Harry Potter.

Platform 9¾ at Kings Cross Station as described in J K Rowling’s Harry Potter.

 

Flying at Platform 9¾ at Kings Cross Station. This Platform was described by JK Rowling’s Harry Potter.

Flying at Platform 9¾ at Kings Cross Station. This Platform was described by JK Rowling’s Harry Potter.

 

Platform 9¾ is mentioned in Harry Potter Books by J.K. Rowling as the starting point of the Hogwarts Express (Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry).

On the wall, there is a cast iron plaque with an embedded trolley. There is an opportunity to have your photo taken “flying” at this location courtesy of the Harry Potter Shop in the Kings Cross Station.

On the days that I have visited Kings Cross Station, there has been an orderly queue at this platform. If you are catching a train from Kings Cross Station and want to get a “flying” photo at Platform 9¾, allow extra time for this photo opportunity.

 

  1. Platforms 9a,9b; 10a,10b; 11a,11b

Platform 10a and 11a in Kings Cross Station

Platform 10a and 11a in Kings Cross Station

 

Platform 10b and 11b in Kings Cross Station

Platform 10b and 11b in Kings Cross Station

 

Adding a suffix to a platform enables the station to have “2 different platforms” on one physical platform. Two different trains going to 2 different destinations can be parked on the same physical platform. Of course, the train on the outer platform has to depart first.

This is for the suburban services in Platforms 9, 10 and 11.

 

  1. Platform Order

Sign showing the platform order in Kings Cross Station.

Sign showing the platform order in Kings Cross Station.

The English language is written from left to right. Therefore, the logical order for the platforms would be from left to right. Right?

It is different at Kings Cross Station. Platform 0 is the 1st platform on the extremely right. Platform 1 is to the left of Platform 0 and so forth.

This arrangement is different but it is present in a total of 5 of the 14 London terminus stations.

 

 

  1. The Western Concourse

A Google Earth Image of Kings Cross Station. Curved structure (the red placement - Kings Cross) is the Western Concourse. At the lower end of the structure is the curved building of the GNR Hotel. The open space at the lower end is the Kings Cross Square.

A Google Earth Image of Kings Cross Station. Curved structure (the red placement – Kings Cross) is the Western Concourse. At the lower end of the structure is the curved building of the GNR Hotel. The open space at the lower end is the Kings Cross Square.

 

 

The curved building of the Great North Hotel at Kings Cross Station

The curved building of the Great North Hotel at Kings Cross Station

 

The Interior of the Western Concourse of Kings Cross Station – note the wide open spaces for the passengers.

The Interior of the Western Concourse of Kings Cross Station – note the wide open spaces for the passengers.

This extension to the Station is a magnificent curved structure. But why curved?

To fit in with the curves of the Great Northern Hotel which was designed by the Lewis Cubitt who had designed the station.

 

  1. Kings Cross Square

Kings Cross Square in front of Kings Cross Station

Kings Cross Square in front of Kings Cross Station

 

In the refurbished Kings Cross Station, there is a Kings Cross Square in front of the main entrances. It is unobstructed except for benches and trees. Long may it remain this way. This is the only London Terminus station with a Square.

I am sure that many people would not want to see are outside cafes or obstructions in this piece of open space.

 

  1. It is all about the Connections.

The Train and Tube Map showing the number of lines that connect to Kings Cross Station making it the best connected station in London.

The Train and Tube Map showing the number of lines that connect to Kings Cross Station making it the best connected station in London.

 

There are six underground lines stopping at Kings Cross & St Pancras Station –

  • Circle Line
  • Piccadilly Line
  • Hammersmith & City Line
  • Northern Line
  • Metropolitan Line
  • Victoria Line

 

This is best connected station in London. It handled 91 m passengers in 2014, the second highest number. The highest being Oxford Circus station with 95 million.

The main railway services cover both Regional and Inter City (long distance).

Regional – Thameslink and South Eastern High Speed

Inter-City – Virgin Trains East Coast, Great Northern, Hull Trains, Grand Central.

All the major London underground stations are within 20 minutes of Kings Cross. Hence, any person coming into London on an intercity train, any part of London is within easy reach with the Underground network.

 

  1. The Golden Triangle

The Francis Crick Institute adjacent to Kings Cross Station

The Francis Crick Institute adjacent to Kings Cross Station

 

The Golden Triangle is a knowledge hub around Kings Cross Station:

Kings Cross station is in the middle of London’s Knowledge hub – University College London, Facebook and Wellcome Foundation (Bloomsbury), British Library and Sir Francis Crick Institute of Medical Research (Euston), Google (Kings Cross), Amazon (Shoreditch). This area is within easy reach of Queen Mary, London School of Economics, King’s College, Imperial College and the Medical Research Council.

Outside London, Kings Cross Station is within easy reach of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

  1. Spelling

Kings Cross is spelt with or without the apostrophe by Network Rail, the owners of the Kings Cross station.

The signage of at Kings Cross Station managed by Network Rail

The signage of at Kings Cross Station managed by Network Rail

The Signage of the Kings Cross St Pancras Underground Station managed by Transport for London.

The Signage of the Kings Cross St Pancras Underground Station managed by Transport for London.

 

With apostrophe – King’s Cross Station.

 

A screenshot of National Rail Enquires defining Kings Cross Station

A screenshot of National Rail Enquires defining Kings Cross Station

 

 

The web site National Rail Enquiries is managed by Network Rail.

No apostrophe – Kings Cross Station.

 

The redeveloped and revitalised Kings Cross Station is once again, a vital area of London.

This travel article has covered the 10 quirky facts of Kings Cross Station.

 

 

About Dr Michael Oon:

Michael was brought up in Singapore and came to the UK for schooling. He was a forensic scientist at the Metropolitan Police Forensic Science Laboratory (New Scotland Yard, London) for 20 years. He is now a consultant practicing traditional feng shui and works with property developers. He specialises in helping to sell property faster. He has travelled extensively around the world as part of his work and together with his wife Helen.

 

 

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1Comment
  • Nelia | May 8, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    LuilSometumes, I don’t care where it’s going, I want to go there too.I got a sense of a longing for an adventure, just out of your grasp. Daydreaming of exotica. You described it so well … except you forgot to mention the three screaming babies – de rigueur on any flight nowadays.

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