War Memorial Unveiled at St. Pancras

On its 150th anniversary and the centenary of the end of World War I, St. Pancras International unveiled on 8th November 2018, a permanent war memorial created by artist and writer Fabian Peake which reflects on the lives of those who fought and died serving in the armed forces as well as civilians.

The memorial sits on the station's Grand Terrace, close to the location of bomb damage from two prominent air raids on the station in 1918 and 1941 - the first of which claimed the greatest number of casualties suffered in any air raid on a London station during the First World war. Going forward, the artwork will also mark the location of the annual Armistice memorial held at the station on 11th November.

Inspired by the roles of the men and women that worked at St Pancras (Station, Hotel & Goods Yard), the 4-metre tall memorial is comprised of a series of job titles that represent those who left their work to fight and die for their country. Fabian has used vitreous enamel which has historically been used for signage by railway companies and is still frequently used today.

The memorial was commissioned by HS1, Bechtel, East Midlands Trains, Eurostar, Govia Thames Link, Manhatten Loft Corporation, Network Rail, South Eastern and UK Power Network Services.

The Artist

Three artists were invited to take part in a competition to design the station’s permanent memorial. After presenting their proposals to a panel comprised of representatives from HS1 and industry partners, Fabian Peake was selected for demonstrating a clear engagement with the public and a creative approach to the brief.

Fabian studied painting at Chelsea College of Art and at The Royal College of Art. His work has largely diversified during the past ten years and incorporates cut-outs, photography, drawing, writing, poetry and tailored wall pieces.

The Occupations Memorialised 

Milk & Fish Porter

A railway porter wholly or mainly engaged in loading and unloading milk and fish into and from railway vehicles. The below picture shows a Milk Porter with churns at Somers Town dock 1890.

Image: ©National Railway Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

Axlebox Cleaner

Axlebox Cleaners worked within the Carriage and Wagon Department, their job involved the examining and cleaning of axle boxes, and when necessary, fill or order them to be filled with grease.

They were also responsible for reporting an axle if it had been dangerously overheated. A wagon was a type of rolling stock with a flat bottom enclosed on all sides and top, which is loaded and unloaded from sliding doors on each side. An open wagon type of rolling stock with a flat bottom and relatively low sides, used to haul material such as ore or scrap, and loaded and unloaded from the top which may be covered or uncovered with a canvas sheet, often painted with the company logo or name.

Image: ©National Railway Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

Conductor

There were two types of Conductor; a Dining Car Conductor was a passenger guard in charge of a dining car, and a Pullman Car Conductor was in charge of Pullman Co’s saloon railway car, responsible for collecting fees for use of the car, oversees the servicing of light refreshments.

Image: ©National Railway Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

Greaser

A Greaser filled axle boxes of rolling stock with lubricating oil or grease as required.

Image: ©National Railway Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

Number Taker

Number Takers were a group approx. 500 strong - who had to stand at junctions across the country noting the movements of every wagon and carriage entering or leaving goods depot, reporting back to the Railway Clearing House in London so that the clerks could balance the companies' competing claims.

Image: ©Alamy

Horse Driver

Also known as 'Shunt Horse Driver', the Horse Driver was in charge of the horse which draws trucks or coaches into or out of railway sidings or on to branch lines during shunting operations.

The below picture is of ‘Tommy' c. 1963, one of the last shunting horses employed by British Railways, hauling a horse box used to transport racehorses from Newmarket to meetings across the country.

Shunting horses were withdrawn from British Railways shortly after this photograph was taken.

Image: ©National Railway Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

Carman

A Carman drives horse drawn vehicles (usually in towns) collecting or delivering goods. Carmen were employed by railway companies and were responsible for safe custody of the horse and vehicle and safe delivery of their goods.

Image: ©National Railway Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

Gasfitter

A Gasfitter worked in the Carriage and Wagon Department and was part of the maintenance staff team.

Farrier

A Farrier is a horse doctor, or a blacksmith who shoes horses but also would undertake other metal work and repairs as required. The below photo is of a Farrier at St. Pancras Station, Kings Road stables in 1936. By this time the Midland Railway had over 100 working horses.

Image: ©National Railway Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

Examiner

The Carriage and Wagon Examiner inspected carriages and repaired any defects identified.

The Wheel Examiner tested the soundness of the wheels of passenger coaches during a halt at a station or of goods wagons in a yard or siding by tapping the edges of wheels with long-handled steel hammers.

A Wheel Examiner (above), 1936, testing the wheels of the London, Midland & Scottish Railway Princess Royal class 4-6-2 locomotive number 6212 Duchess of Kent. The wheel tapper hit the locomotive's wheels with a long hammer and could detect from the sound it made whether there were any flaws or cracks in the wheels. The examiner was also responsible for checking brakes and couplings.

Image: ©National Railway Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

Meat Pitcher

A Meat Pitcher was a goods porter who handle carcasses at railway meat depots as directed by the General Foreman for goods.

The below photo shows a Meat Pitcher loading meat onto a railway container on the back of a lorry, Smithfield Market, 1938. In the 1930s the railways carried 400,000 tonnes of meat every year although they faced increasing competition from road vehicles. This image is indistinct because the original photographic negative has deteriorated. Meat was often transported in special containers, like this one, so that it could be transferred from door to door without being unpacked. The containers were ventilated and contained packets of dry ice so that the meat stayed fresh.

Image: ©National Railway Museum/ Science & Society Picture Library

Plateman

A Plateman washed and dried plates, dishes and cutlery in the restaurant carriages. A Plateman is not to be confused with Plate Layers, who were the manual workers maintaining the tracks. The below photo shows a Chef at work with his staff in a carriage kitchen in 1907, with a Plateman in the foreground washing and drying plates.

Image: ©National Railway Museum/ Science & Society Picture Library

Stoker

A Stoker stoked the locomotive furnace and provided general assistance to the locomotive driver. The below photo shows a Stoker stoking the furnace in a cab of a London, Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS) locomotive, 1936.

Image: ©National Railway Museum/ Science & Society Picture Library