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Friday, 12 August 2016

Kris crossing to Camden and back.

We decided to have a walk around the Kings Cross and Camden areas today. It is a beautiful with a nice breeze so making it good walking weather.

As you come out of Kings Cross Station and look left there is a lighthouse! I must have seen it before but it had not registered. It seems they are unsure as to why it was built in the first place it it may have been to supply a seaside theme for an oyster bar below, when oyster were eaten all the time and were not a luxury food.

I was tempted to give you another photo of the beautiful St Pancras Hotel with the sun on it but thought this one of painting and decorating on the facade would be more interesting.

Right next door is the British Library that opened in 1995 and is said to contain 25 million books. It couldn't provide a bigger contrast of style to the St Pancras building.

Further along Euston Road is St. Pancras new church. It was built in the Greek Revival style and was consecrated in 1822.

Just by the church is Woburn Walk which seems to be miles away from the hustle and bustle of Euston Road. Along there is the old HQ building for the 20th Middlesex (Artists') Rifle Volunteers and was opened by the Prince of Wales in 1889. There are the heads of Mars and Minerva for war and wisdom. In WWI these painters, musicians, actors and architects won 8 Victoria Crosses and 822 Military Crosses. Noel Coward was once a member.

As told in a previous blog all that remains of the former station entrance are the gatehouses. The carvings on them are superb with a list of towns and cities that were saved by the London and North West Railway which initials you can see carved above. Euston must be the next station for a mega refurbishment and there are plans to replace the Doric arch that has been found dumped in the River Lea.

I found this building quite attractive, if much more modern. It is the Triton Building that was opened in 2014. A four bed apartment will cost you about £7.25 million, but hopefully there will be a view of Regents Park thrown in.

My best building of the day though has to be the Arcadia Works. It was put up in the 1920's and was a cigarette Factory for Carreras Black Cat cigarettes. It is a very over the top Egyptian theme.

The entrance is protected by two bronze statues of cats.

For those of you that listen to 'Sorry I haven't a clue' on Radio 4 the above photo will show that the title of one of the games is an actual tube station. In fact there is a plaque in memory of Willie Ruston a former panel member.

Believe it or not these are the first ladies loos in the country, here in Camden. They were installed in 1902 after a prolonged campaign by George Bernard Shaw who was a Camden Councillor. It was felt that Ladies should only use the facilities in their own homes.

This stone carving is above the entrance to Arlington House that was built by Lord Rowton to help London's poor and is the only survivor of those he had built. It was founded in 1905 and provided accommodation for them. George Orwell stayed here and was very complimentary about it in his book 'Down and out in London and Paris'.

We walked up Camden High Street and called into the markets. These girders holding the roof up seem to be original and have CL in the steel work. Would this be for 'Camden Lock' or something else?

We walked back down the towpath towards St. Pancras and came to St. Pancras Gardens. What a a haven of peace after Camden or the stations on Euston Road. The trees are mature and give shade but with pools of sun. This is also the graveyard of St. Pancras old church. In the 1860's the Midland Railway were laying their tracks to their new station at St. Pancras and they made quite a mess of the garveyard with bodies exposed etc. The architects sent a young trainee to sort it all out. That man became a famous writer, Thomas Hardy. It is said that he piled these tombstones up round the tree and subsequently the roots have grown through them.

Does this remind you of anything? It is the Sir John Soane's monument and with Karl Marx's tomb is the only tomb that has listed building status. It is said to be the inspiration for Giles Gilbert Scott's 1924 design for the K2 telephone box! Can you see it now?

We crossed the canal again and here we are under the iron work of the gasometer opposite our berth. There is a lovely grassed area in the middle and benches round the circle with these polished steel pillars reflecting everything. It is very well used and we often see groups doing their training here.

Further along we came to Granary Square. This was as is suggested an old transhipment warehouse for grain between the railway and canal. The square has many jets of water that play and the weather had brought hundreds of kids out to play. It was perfect for them. North of the canal is in the middle of a huge change and development and is already very exciting to see.

From here we went to the London Canal Museum for a bit of education. It is small but perfectly formed. Part of it is the story of the founder of the business that built this ice house. The ice was originally cut from the canal itself but then was imported from America and thenNorway. We also found that today was the 200th anniversary of the opening of the first part of the Regents Canal. The section opened to Camden was the first bit. They had  a right party to celebrate by the sound of it too.

From St Pancras Lock you can see how close we are to the tracks in/out of St. Pancras. It is amazing how quickly you get used to the noise.


  1. Wot!
    No beer at the Euston Tap?
    NB 'Red Wharf'

    1. Hi Sam, It was a little early for them to be open when we passed there but we did sample a couple of brews there on Monday last. Good selection, but not a relaxing place. However today we called in at the Constitution just off the canal between Camden and St Pancras Lock. A proper pub with chatty folk to talk to and a few nice beers. I had a pint of Junction from Sambrook's of Battersea that was very pleasant. I even got to watch about half an hour of cricket.

      Thanks for reading. Tony

    All those people standing by the fountains front of Granary building would have been in a canal basin years back. It came in off the Regents and went under the building to tranship to\from trains.

    1. Hi Les, thanks for reading the blog. I was thinking about your blog when you were in London before about the Kings Cross area. I miss your very detailed historical blogs. The place is changing so much. When we used to come south from Yorkshire on the train you used to get away from the area as soon as possible it was so seedy. I get a stiff neck when we are in London as I am always looking up as there is so much to see above street level. It was great to see all the kids out in Granary Square having fun in the fountains, but just opposite you can still see a sign saying 'Coal Office'. I only publish about a quarter of the pictures and topics I would like to as I would spend my time sat on the computer otherwise.
      I hope you are doing okay. As you say in your latest blog you are looking pretty good, and I'm sure that Jaq is looking after you as well as the best the NHS can do. We are heading up the Grand Union so hopefully you will be back aboard and we can come and see you. We are in London for another week so hopefully I can find something else that will interest you.

      Cheers for now, Tony