St Pancras Station was opened in 1868 and is one of the wonders of Victorian engineering. Along with the former Midland Grand Hotel, it is a masterpiece of Victorian Gothic Architecture and one of the most elegant stations in the World.

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  • 304
  • 1820
  • 1845
  • 1852
  • 1854
  • 1863
  • 1864
  • 1865
  • 1867
  • 1868
  • 1874
  • 1876
  • 1887
  • 1890
  • 1914
  • 1921
  • 1923
  • 1930
  • 1935
  • 1939
  • 1942
  • 1945
  • 1948
  • 1953
  • 1962
  • 1964
  • 1966
  • 1994
  • 1996
  • 2007
  • 2007b
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  • Saint Pancras

    304

    St Pancras was a 14 year old boy who had converted to Christianity and would not renounce his faith.  As a result he was beheaded by Diocletian in Rome in 304 AD. He is the patron saint of children. St Pancras is a Greek name meaning ‘the one that holds everything’.

    Image
    Depiction of St Pancras the Martyr
    © By Photograph [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

  • 1820

    1820

    The Regent’s Canal was built to link the Grand Junction Canal’s Paddington Arm, which opened in 1801, with the Thames at Limehouse. One of the directors of the canal company was the famous architect John Nash. Nash was friendly with the Prince Regent, later King George IV, who allowed the use of his name for the project. The Regent’s Canal Act was passed in 1812 and the company was formed to build and operate it. Nash’s assistant, James Morgan, was appointed as the canal’s Engineer. It was opened in two stages, from Paddington to Camden in 1816, and the rest of the canal in 1820.

    Image
    The Imperial Gas, Light and Coke Company works, St Pancras, engraving by Thomas Shepherd, 1820-1837
    © London Canal Museum
    www.canalmuseum.org.uk

  • 1845

    1845

    Midland Railway Company adopted the silver wyvern as its unofficial coat of arms allegedly because it was the standard of the kingdom of Mercia.  Mercia was the Anglo-Saxon kingdom in the region now known as the English Midlands.

    A wyvern is a mythical winged creature with a dragons head and wings; a reptilian body; two legs and a barbed tail.

    Image
    Wyvern,  ornamenting a decorative pediment at Derby Station (2014)
    © J Murray

  • 1852

    1852

    Kings Cross Station Opens. Designed by Lewis Cubit it was built between 1851–1852 as the London Hub of the Great Northern Railway.  It was constructed on the site of a smallpox hospital and took its name from a monument to King George IV which had been erected nearby but demolished in 1845.

    Photo
    1852 Kings Cross Station
    © By Photograph [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

  • 1854

    1854

    Closure of St Pancras burial ground and opening of the St Pancras & Islington cemetery in East Finchley. This was the first public cemetery in London and followed the passing of the Metropolitan Burials Act 1852. The Cemetery is listed Grade II* in the English Heritage  Register of Historic Parks and Garden of Historic Interest (no. 5283).

    Image
    St Pancras & Islington cemetery, East Finchley
    © By Photograph [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, uploaded by Electric Ray 

  • 1863

    1863

    The Metropolitan Underground Railway, the worlds first underground railway began services between Edgware Road and Kings Cross.  Later in this year Royal Assent was granted for the Midland Railway (Extension to London) Act.

    Image
    Depiction of the Metropolitan Railway from Illustrated London News Vol 62/2
    © Science Museum Library / Science & Society Picture Library

  • 1864

    1864

    William Henry Barlow, (1812-1902), Chief Engineer to the Midland Railway sets out an ambitious four year timetable for the completion of the line to St Pancras.

    Image
    Portrait of William Barlow
    © By Photograph [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

  • 1865

    1865

    The German Gymnasium (Edward Gruning 1837-1908) is completed in Pancras Road. Its is the earliest surviving purpose built public gymnasium in the country.

    Image
    Interior view of the German Gymnasium, published in The Builder, Vol. 24 May 1866.
    © Reproduced by permission of English Heritage

  • 1867

    1867

    November: The first section of the St Pancras wrought iron roof truss is erected by the Butterley Company of Derby. The brickwork and the foundations are by Waring Brother. Barlow and Ordish’s trainshed is the largest single span enclosed space in the world.

    Image
    Engraving of the construction of St Pancras Station, The Illustrated Times 1867
    © National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

  • 1868

    1868

    1st October, 4.20am: The first train arrives at St Pancras – the 10.05 pm overnight mail from Leeds.

    Image
    The south elevation before the completion of the Midland Grand Hotel, 1868
    © National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

  • 1874

    1874

    The first Pullman Train in the UK operates on the Midland Railway – this group of wealthy travellers are embarking on a mystery tour.

    Image
    Wealthy rail passengers taking a mystery tour from St Pancras on the Pullman service, 1876
    © National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

  • 1876

    1876

    The west wing of the Midland Grand Hotel is completed, following the opening of the East Wing in 1873.

    Image
    The Midland Grand Hotel, 1925
    © National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

  • 1887

    1887

    The Somers Town Goods depot adjacent to St Pancras Station is completed. The Midland Railway acquired the site where the British Library stands today for the depot: the construction resulted in the demolition of 4,000 homes and displacement for 10,000 people.

    Image
    The Somers Town Goods Depot, 1922
    © National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

  • 1890s

    1890s

    Milk was being transported into London from the Peak District over 150 miles from St Pancras. One such station was Millers Dale, on what is now the Monsal Trail where farmers would rush their churns to pick up trains for St Pancras where they would be unloaded at the station or in the Somers Town depot and distributed. Listen to their story courtesy of the Peak District National Park.

    Image
    Midland Railway poster, 1900
    © NRM Pictorial Collection / Science & Society Picture Library

    Image top right
    Milk being unloaded at Somers Town Dock, 1890
    © National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

    Image bottom right
    Horse drawn wagon with milk and straw, 1912
    © National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

  • 1914

    1914

    Declaration of War
    You tube – Pathe news clip
    http://youtu.be/uAMLn_81Rq0

  • 1921

    1921

    Midland Railway War Memorial, Derby. Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens it is inscribed ‘To the brave men of the Midland Railway who gave their lives in the Great War’.

    Image
    The Midland Railway War memorial, Derby
    © Mr WM Nicholson. Source: English Heritage

  • 1923

    1923

    After the war, the railways were not permitted by Government to return to their pre-war competitive positions. Of the four great railways formed in 1923 by the Railways Act of 1921, the London, Midland and Scottish was the largest. It was the only British railway serving England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

    Image
    The Coat of arms of the LMS 1923-1947, showing cross of St George, English Rose and Scottish Thistle
    © National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

  • 1930

    1930

    Henry Croft  (1861-1930) was a road sweeper working around St Pancras and was the founder of the working class tradition of  Pearly Kings & Queens. He was born and died in St Pancras Workhouse and was buried in St Pancras & Islington Cemetery.  His memorial is now in the crypt at Martins in the Fields.

    Image
    Memorial to Henry Croft, St Pancras & Islington Cemetery
    © By Photograph [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

  • 1935

    1935

    The Midland Grand Hotel closes due to poor profits. It is converted into offices for the London, Midland and Scottish Railway and renamed St Pancras Chambers.

    Image
    The Midland Grand Hotel, 1925
    © National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

  • 1939

    1939

    War is declared and the railways are brought under Government control. They were used extensively to carry troops and weapons around the country and to ports. The notice board at St Pancras gives train information and special announcements to troops. The advert is for ‘Halo’ hair nets.

    Image
    Notice Board – hair nets and troop movements, 1939
    © National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

  • 1942

    1942

    A 500kg bomb breaks through the train shed roof and causes serious damage to platforms 3 & 4. The bomb also damages the undercroft below and the Metropolitan Railway. The Station is back in operation after a week of emergency repairs.

    Image
    Bomb damage to the  trainshed following an air raid in 1941
    © National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

  • 1945

    1945

    Evacuees return to London

    http://youtu.be/Dgk63HnsaN4

  • 1948

    1948

    British Railways are nationalized under the British Transport Commission. The first emblem of the company is nicknamed ‘The Lion on a unicycle’.

    Image
    The first emblem of British Railways, nicknamed ‘The Lion on a unicycle’
    © Hugh Llewelyn

  • 1953

    1953

    The station and goods depots were attractive haunt for rats and mice so British Rail employed rat catchers to keep them under control. Jim Forty and Alfred Greenwin with their dogs and ‘catch’ at St Pancras Goods yard.

    Image
    Ratcatchers in St Pancras Goods Yard, 1953
    Jim Forty and Alfred Greenwin
    © National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

  • 1962

    1962

    Philip Hardwick’s Doric Propylaeum – the Euston Arch, the grand entrance to Euston Station – is demolished on the orders of the British Railways Board. The destruction of the monument arouses great controversy. John Betjeman leads the protests. The conservation movement learns tactical skills from this defeat.

    Image
    The first emblem of British Railways, nicknamed ‘The Lion on a unicycle’
    © Hugh Llewelyn

  • 1964

    1964

    The delivery and storage of beer in the undercroft of St Pancras was a fundamental part of the station design and operation. This activity ceased with the last steam train from Burton on Trent as rail distribution was superseded by road.

  • 1966-68

    1966-1968

    British Railways Board proposed to ‘combine’ (i.e. demolish) both Kings Cross and St Pancras Stations.  Permission was denied. A campaign to protect the station was launched with Sir John Betjeman at the head and underpinned by the detailed research of Jack Simmons.  2 November 1967 the Station and Chambers are listed Grade I

  • 1994

    1994

    The Channel Tunnel is officially opened by HM Queen Elizabeth II. Royal Assent for the Channel Tunnel Act was granted in 1987

    http://www.eurotunnelgroup.com/uk/the-channel-tunnel/history/

    St Pancras is confirmed by the Government as the preferred terminus.

    Image
    The Channel Tunnel
    © Eurotunnel

  • 1996

    1996

    18th December the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Bill received Royal Assent.  This allows for the construction, operation, maintenance and renewal of a high speed rail link and stations between the Channel Tunnel and St Pancras.

  • 2007

    2007

    Archbishop Richard Arthur Dillon (died 1806) an exile from the French Revolution, was returned to France and  reinterred in Narbonne, France after exhumation of his coffin in St Pancras churchyard during the construction works. The coffin was conveyed along the Canal de la Robine, a fitting tribute as Mgr. Dillon was instrumental in its original construction.

    Image
    Monsignor Dillon returned to Narbonne
    © P Emery

  • 2007

    2007

    The works are complete and St Pancras Station and the high speed line are operational.

    St Pancras Station is officially opened by HM Queen Elizabeth II on 6 November.

    Image
    Her Majesty the Queen speaking at the opening of St Pancras International
    © HS1