Sunday 9 December 2007

St Pancras's architectural brilliance

I was just re-reading St Pancras Station by Simon Bradley and I was reminded of a tour I organised round the old station hotel buildings before it closed for the full refurbishment that is currently taking place.

It would be a shame not to share these here - St Pancras Station is one of the most dominant buildings of London - an amazing level of detail, quality confirmed by a total sense of place.

The history is that in May 1865 - with the railway station already being constructed - Midland Railway Company launched a competition for the design of a 150 bed hotel.

Sir George Gilbert Scott (1811-1878), put in a grand plan bigger and far more expensive than the specification. But audacity paid off and he was awarded the contract and by 1876 it was open. Cost and scale were lavish:

  • decoration and fittings £49,000
  • furnishings £84,000
  • A toal consturction cost of £437,335
  • The building had 60 million bricks
  • 9,000 tons of ironwork
  • polished columns of fourteen different British granites and limestones.
  • 300-room hotel, charging 14 shillings (70p) a night in 1879 - only six pence (2.5p) more than the famed Langham in Portland Place, W1.
  • Fixtures and fittings in the hotel were to a high standard
  • Special 'new' features including hydraulic 'ascending chambers'
  • concrete floors
  • revolving doors
  • fireproof floor construction

We're now not far from being able to see it all restored to a new and exciting glory - whether it will quite have the army of servants that previously serviced the hotel will remain to be seen...

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