London – Kings Cross – St Pancras

St Pancras station is one of my favourite buildings in the world, partly for its architectural beauty and partly because it’s the station that I, and my fellow Yorkshiremen and East Midlanders, always alight at when arriving in London, which usually signifies the beginning of an adventure of some kind.

Built in 1868, it had at the time the largest single-span roof in the world. It’s a masterpiece of Victorian Gothic engineering and for me, it’s one of the most elegant train stations in the world.

Station buffs may be interested to know it was also the model for Victoria Terminus, now Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, in Mumbai, which looks like a fancier version with several Indian adornments added.

The station was renovated between 2001 and 2007 to be a public space in preparation for the London Olympics, and there are now a few places to go for a drink or a bite. The oyster bar is a bit out of my price range so if I really need to eat, when I’m waiting for my off-peak train, I invariably end up at Carluccio’s where you can get decent Italian food at a good price. They have a deal where you can get two courses for a tenner, and add on a dessert or a glass of wine for £3.50 or so, which isn’t bad. You can sit outside and take in the enormity of the roof above you.

I’m also a fan of ‘The Meeting Place’, the huge bronze statue created by Paul Day which is just by the restaurant. Supposedly showing an amorous couple, either meeting or saying goodbye, the woman is looking at her mobile phone over the shoulder of her lover! I also like all the small friezes cast in the plinth of the statue.

Click on the photos for a better view.

For a good cocktail in splendid Victorian surroundings, I like to go to the bar of The Gilbert Scott (out the front of the station and turn right, the entrance is at pavement level in the west wing of the station building), a brasserie named after the station’s architect. It’s on the ground floor of the old Midland Grand Hotel, now the five star Renaissance Hotel, which occupies the distinctive frontage of the station.

20140821_192228

I like the building so much that I’ve hired the station clock tower to celebrate my 50th birthday in 2016, but more of that in this space next year!

If you have a bit more time and want something cheap and spicy to eat then I strongly recommend Roti King in the basement of Ian Hamilton House at 40 Doric Way (just five minutes around the corner). Their rotis are sublime and the curries are pretty good. Marina O’Loughlin likes it too.

20140819_122437

2 Responses to “London – Kings Cross – St Pancras”

  1. Another big fan of Roti King here but go there while you can! It’s very likely that the whole area here is going to be buried under concrete as part of the developments for the HS2 project. And you can put money on the resulting buildings looking nowhere near as good as anything Scott did.

    I’m also a fan of St P, I’ve been using it so long (since 1975 at least) that I can remember when the Booking Hall actually was the place you went to buy tickets rather than an overpriced hotel bar, though it’s worth going into the Hotel and having a look round, especially the Grand Staircase. Despite its prices I also like the Champagne Bar (though I’d avoid the restaurant it’s now attached to like the plague). I have been known to sit there with a glass of Pommery shouting ‘You lucky bastards!’ at outgoing Eurostars.

    Incidentally, Nice (where I now live for part of the year) has a district called Saint Pancrace.

    • Hehe. I’ll definitely have to give the champagne bar a go when I celebrate my 50th there next year. Apparently Pancras is a Greek name meaning “the one that holds everything” so I’m sure another train line can be squeezed in. Shame to lose Roti King though😦 I guess that gives us until some time in 2017.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: