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Published 16th March 2012
Kings Cross station is just under 150 years old and is set to stun visitors and passengers alike for another 150 years following the opening of the new concourse.
150 years ago, it was a world leading Victorian building and is now the 21st century equivalent. As a result of Lewis Cubitt’s design incorporating two ‘roof barrels’ to shelter passengers and trains, the station was awarded Grade 1 listed status and remained a World famous building. It suffered bomb damage in May 11 1941when 25 metres of the western roof and station offices were demolished by bombs.
Other than that, the station was kept functional by a cash starved railway post Nationalisation in 1948 but most work was carefully considered and sympathetically carried out over the next half century.
The historical nature of the station has not been compromised by the £500m project just completed which included construction and renovation works.
The new King’s Cross station western concourse will quickly become a major London centre and used by 45 million passengers a year. Olympic crowds will be stunned by it as it is a key part of the Olympic travel network.
The new passenger facilities opened for business on March 19 after a glittering official opening event held on the evening of March 14. This used the new 7,500 square metre western concourse to its full potential and attracted five speeches in all by a quintet of VIPs.
First off was the ‘Grand Designs’ TV Presenter, Kevin McCloud, followed by the Transport Secretary Justine Greening and The Network Rail Chief Executive, David Higgins. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson rounded off the words with a hugely entertaining and passionate speech while David Partridge of the Kings Cross Central project also spoke at length.
Kevin McCloud suggested an alternative use for the new concourse that should include live bands, such was the grandeur of the arena type construction.
The Mayor said the tubular girder roof could be described as many things ranging from a type of hat to the top of a Cornish pasty due to the metal latticework being omnipresent.
The Transport Secretary and Network Rail Chief Executive spoke more briefly but targeted their words carefully and kept to the point about how the works were needed to keep London moving and applauded Ian Fry, the Project Manager, Vinci and Arup and everyone else involved in delivering the project on time and to budget.
A spectacular light and sound show was the centrepiece of the evening and lasted featured music specially written for the event. The creation was a mix of Jean Michelle-Jarre and Pink Floyd and was applauded heartily by all fortunate enough to be present.
Stunning lighting effects were created using windows of the original western building and the new addition to great effect.
The project was conceived in 1997 when John McAslan and partners were selected to design the redevelopment of Kings Cross. Their plans were altered by The Strategic Rail Authority in 2003 introducing a new footbridge through the station to link the Western Concourse.
The amazing 20 metre high metal funnel support fans out over a 150 metre wide area supporting the dome’s roof assisted by 16 tree-form metal columns around the perimeter.
These were required because the Grade 1 listed buildings could not be used to support the new concourse as couldn’t the adjacent listed Great Northern Hotel.
As the Mayor, Boris Johnson summed up waving his arms around, this facility will last for two or three hundred years and make people aware of our heritage. It may even make youngsters remove their ipods or whatever they will be using then, to gaze up at the roof!