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History of St PancrasSt Pancras International is one of London’s most cherished landmarks that was once marked for demolition. Once known for having the world’s largest enclosed space; William Henry Barlow created a Victorian work of art. Construction began in 1863 and was finished in 1868 when it was opened to the public.
William Henry Barlow
William Henry Barlow was born in 1812 in Charlton, England. He was a civil engineer working in various dockyards until he earned an engineering position with a railway company. He lived in Turkey for six years before returning to England and accepting a job with Midland Railway in 1842. Barlow had a great career with Midland that included designing and building a rail line to London; his most famous work of course being the creation of the main terminal at St Pancras. Barlow was a great engineer whose name is synonymous with the Railway Age.
The Design of St Pancras
His design for the St Pancras terminal was an engineering marvel of its time with an arch spanning over 340 feet and having an apex of 100 feet tall. The front facade is made from Grade 1 red brick and of the neo-Gothic architecture style. This portion of the train station became the Midland Grand Hotel; designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott and was built between 1868 and 1876.
The hotel was closed in 1935 after the building had fallen into despair and was unusable because the facilities became outdated and too expensive to operate. This area would later become offices for the railway officials. During this period it was given the name St Pancras Chambers. The station acted as a military safe haven during both World Wars. It served as a meeting place for troops, and an exodus point for those soldiers going to war. The station also acted as a safe place to depart children from London to the countryside for safety.
Demolition of St Pancras
The station was attacked during World War II’s Blitz on London. Although the station was heavily damaged, engineers were able to get platforms up and working soon after. The station faced its greatest threat in the station’s history in 1966 when there were plans to demolish both St Pancras and King’s Cross. However, following the demolition of both the Great Hall and Euston’s large Grecian gateway, the public were outraged and began an effort to save the majestic building. The efforts were led by Sir John Betjeman and other members of the Victorian Society. The news came in 1967 that the government was listing the building as a Grade 1 because of it being such a great example of historical Victorian Gothic architecture.
Health and Safety
The building faced yet more hard times in the 1980s when it failed its fire certificate and was forced to close its doors. Following this the building remained empty for many years in a state of disrepair. During the period where the building sat empty, it proved to be a popular location for film companies as it was location for several projects including a Spice Girls music video and scenes from “Gulliver’s Travels”.
Restoration of St Pancras
In the mid 1990s the British Rail and the English Heritage teamed up to spend roughly $15 million in an effort to restore the exterior of the building to its original glamour while making it once again weatherproof and structurally sound. Not long after the exterior was repaired, work was begun on the interior of the building. Although the building faced some vandalism during its later years, many of the original architectural features survived.
Today, the mosaics, stenciling, and ornamental ceilings have all been restored to their original beauty. Recently, the station was named as a main hub for the Eurostar in the United Kingdom. It is still considered one of the best Victorian buildings in London and in recent years has become a popular retail and hospitality location. This is a great place for photography, filming, and hosting events.
The Station has replaced Waterloo as the terminus for Eurostar and is expected to service over 45 million passengers each year while it serves as the high-speed rail across Southern England.
The Marriott’s St Pancras Renaissance London Hotel
The hotel is a wonderful addition to the company’s portfolio as it features 244 luxurious rooms and was created to bring the old hotel back to life. The property also features event and meeting rooms that can accommodate up to 550 people. Visitors love the Gilbert Scott restaurant which is on-site and ran by world-renowned celebrity chef Marcus Wareing. Perhaps one of the most popular features is London’s longest Champagne bar. People come from far and wide to see the marvel and enjoy the five star hotel and restaurant.