Pancras, the magnificent terminus of the Midland Railway,
opened in 1876.
The arch of the glass-and-iron
train shed spans 240 feet and is over 100 feet high at its
apex. This superb construction was an outstanding feat
of Victorian engineering.
When it was completed the massive
roof, designed by William Henry Barlow, was the largest in
The roof is supported at ground-floor
level by 690 cast-iron columns. This level was designed
as a huge storage area for beer transported from Burton-on-Trent.
To reach St Pancras the Midland Railway had to bridge the
nearby Regent's Canal and as a result the station ended high
above the Euston Road, with its platforms at first-floor level.
The construction of the bridge
across the canal meant that the Midland Railway had to level
the large burial ground of old St Pancras church. The
architect A W Blomfield sent Thomas Hardy, then a trainee
architect, to supervise the carrying away of the human remains.
Towering above St Pancras Station
is the former Midland Grand Hotel, built in 1868 - 73 and
designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott. It was the first hotel
in London to have lifts (called 'ascending rooms').
The hotel opened in 1874 as one
of the most up-to-date hotels of its era. The cathedral-like
structure is the most spectacular of the railway stations
along the Euston Road, the others are Euston and King's Cross.
The red-brick building, not technically part of the station,
is an example of High Gothic architecture, with a great clock
tower, spires, gables and turrets. From 1935 to the
early-1980s the Midland Grand Hotel was used as offices.
Now known as St Pancras Chambers,
the building is being restored. Marriot Hotels is hoping
to convert part of the building back into a hotel.
In the lobby, at the west end
of the building, is a small exhibition about the building
and details about the occasional guided tours. The exhibition
is open: Mon-Fri 11:30-15:30.