St Pancras International will forever be linked with the world of poetry. It was saved from demolition by Sir John Betjeman, who was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1972 until his death.
To celebrate our ties with poetry, not only can you enjoy a statue of John Betjeman on the upper concourse but every year we hold the Betjeman Poetry Prize. First launched in 2006 to mark the centenary of John Betjeman's birth, the prize attracts around 3,000 entries per year from across the UK and aims to foster creativity in young people whilst discovering and encouraging the next generation of British poets.
In 2017, we continued our partnership with Poet in the City to bring a whole schedule of poetry related activities and events to the station. These included poetry buskers, a poetry workshop, the Betjeman Poetry Prize ceremony and an evening poetry performance. Keep your eye on our Events and News pages to be aware of our poetry events!
As part of the National Poetry Day celebrations, St Pancras International announced 12 year-old Ide Crawford, as the winner of the 12th Betjeman Poetry Prize, and the station’s fourth ‘St Pancras Laureate’.
Led by John Betjeman’s granddaughter – and Prize Director - Imogen Lycett Green, and judged by poet Scottish poet laureate and co-judge and poet, Zaffar Kunial, the annual Betjeman Poetry Prize attracts around 3,000 entries per year from talented 10-13 year olds across the UK, all competing to impress the judges with their poetry writing skills.
Thousands of entries were whittled down to a shortlist of just seven young hopefuls, who read their work aloud beneath the station’s famous statue of Sir John Betjeman. The celebrity-attended Betjeman Poetry Prize award ceremony saw last year’s winner, Amineh Abou Kerech, congratulate Ide Crawford on their achievement. Other guests included Penny Mortimer, Nell Dunn, Lauren Child and John Lyons, who gathered to listen to the impressive poetry from some of the country’s youngest poets.
These hills that rise and roll and ripple
Like a dream or a tune or a turning-tide
These hundreds and thousands of burring bees
These thousands and millions and billions of bells
These honey clouds of pollen and scent
All rolled by the land to an imperial robe
Of purple, slow and sweet and sweeping
Purple like sundown summer skies
Purple like a peacock butterfly’s eye
Purple like dye from a murex shell
A robe for the high-throned sun-crowned summer hills
Whose bee-filled bell-rung empire cannot fall
These purple bells that peal together
From sky to moor and moor to sky
They ring and echo and tremble and sing
Not for one or two or twelve ‘o clock
But they ring for all time
For never and forever
They ring for the rise and the roll and the ripple
Of tens and hundreds and thousands of years
They ring for the heather heavy hills