Perhaps the most important terminus in the city, London’s King’s Cross Station opened in 1852 as part of the Great Northern Railways and the terminus of the East Coast Main Line. Designed by Lewis Cubitt and built by George Turnbull, it is a gorgeous example of Victorian architecture and how subsequent renovations seamlessly blend this classic design with modern elements. Not just a hub that helps you get from one place to another, it is a major landmark with its own cultural impact. With over 160 years of history, there is no shortage of facts to share.
King’s Cross Station has 11 platforms and sees over 50 million commuters per year. The original cost of the land £65,000 and the construction cost was £123,000. By contrast, the estimated cost to renovate the station in 2008 was £650 million.
Smoking in the Underground was banned permanently after a discarded match in the King’s Cross St. Pancras Underground Station started a fire under one of the escalators. What began as a small fire spread quickly and caused injuries to 100 people and killed 31.
King’s Cross St. Pancras Tube station is served by more lines than any other Underground station. Six different lines service the station, including: Metropolitan, Piccadilly, Hammersmith & City, Circle, Northern, and Victoria.
Would You Like to Play a Game?
A new app for your iPhone or Android lets you transform the fountains in nearby Granary Square into a giant game of Snake. You have to download the “Granary Squirt” game from your Apple or Android store, then the individual spigots of the fountain take on a colour to prepresent your snake as well as forming obstacles to trip you up.
Who You Callin’ Short?
King’s Cross St. Pancras has the shortest lift at 2.3 metres.
It’s a Magical Place
Although the station has been featured in many books and films, its most famous appearance in either comes as the gateway to Platform 9 ¾ and the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter series. Author J.K. Rowling picked King’s Cross because her parents met on a train at the station. However, as Rowling was writing, she was actually thinking of Euston Station’s platforms 9 and 10. The real 9 and 10 platforms of King’s Cross are in a separate building from lines 1 through 8 and have nothing between them like the older platforms do. Hence, during filming for the movies, King’s Cross Platforms 4 and 5 take on these roles so that Harry and the Weasley children can run through the bricks. A special Platform 9 ¾ exists in another part of the station for photo ops along with a Harry Potter store.
It’s estimated that 100 tube suicides occur each year and King’s Cross St. Pancras is one of the more popular locations for these to occur, along with Victoria station.
Goods and Services
While King’s Cross handles just passengers today, for a long time it was also a major transportation location for goods as well as people. The goods yard handled approximately one million tons of goods.
Crime Never Pays
The 1955 Ealing comedy The Ladykillers is set nearby. Professor Marcus (Alec Guinness) and his band of criminals rent rooms in the house of Mrs. Wilberforce (Katie Johnson), which just so happens to sit right above a tunnel entrance for King’s Cross Station. The station plays a major role in the gang’s scheme (and ultimate downfall) as they hilariously attempt to keep Mrs. Wilberforce in the dark.
Virgin East Coast
As part of Virgin’s empire, Virgin trains represent some of the available transportation at the station. Virgin estimates that 60% of its East Coast trains begin or end their journey at King’s Cross.