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Coordinates51.5303°N 0.1236°W

King's Cross
King's Cross is located in Greater London
King's Cross

 King's Cross shown within Greater London
OS grid referenceTQ315835
London boroughCamden
Ceremonial countyGreater London
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townLONDON
Postcode districtWC1
Postcode districtN1
Dialling code020
EU ParliamentLondon
UK ParliamentHolborn and St. PancrasIslington South and Finsbury
London AssemblyBarnet and Camden
North East
List of places: UK • England • London

King's Cross is an area of London partly in the London Borough of Camden and partly in the London Borough of Islington. It is an inner-city district located 2.5 miles (4.8 km) north of Charing Cross. The area formerly had a reputation for being a red light district and run-down. However, rapid regeneration since the mid 1990s has rendered this reputation largely out-of-date. Since November 2007 the area has been the terminus of theEurostar rail service at St Pancras International, with services to France and Belgium. Regeneration continues under the auspices of King's Cross Central which is a major redevelopment in the north of the area. Many more hotels, restaurants, and cultural venues have made the area a cultural centre in the 2000s, and there is also substantial business activity and residential accommodation.




The area was previously a village known as Battle Bridge or Battlebridge which was an ancient crossing of the River Fleet. The original name of the bridge was Broad Ford Bridge.

The name "Battle Bridge" led to a tradition that this was the site of a major battle between the Romans and theIceni tribe led by Boudica.[1] The tradition claims support from the writing of Publius Cornelius Tacitus, an ancient Roman historian, who described the place of action between the Romans and Boadicea (Annals14.31), but without specifying where it was; Thornbury addresses the pros and cons of the identification. Lewis Spence's 1937 book Boadicea - warrior queen of the Britons includes a map showing the supposed positions of the opposing armies. The suggestion that Boudica is buried beneath platform 9 or 10 at King's Cross Stationseems to have arisen as urban folklore since the end of World War II .[2]

The area had been settled in Roman times, and a camp here, known as The Brill was erroneously attributed toJulius Caesar, who never visited Londinium.[3] The name is commemorated in two streets lying behind King's Cross and St Pancras stations. St Pancras Old Church, also set behind the stations, is said to be one of the oldest Christian sites in Britain.

Around 1835 a monument to King George IV was built at the junction of Gray's Inn RoadPentonville Road and New Road, which later became Euston Road. The monument was sixty feet high and topped by an eleven-foot-high statue of the king, and was described by Walter Thornbury as "a ridiculous octagonal structure crowned by an absurd statue".[1] The upper storey was used as a camera obscura while the base in turn housed a police station and a public house. The unpopular building was demolished in 1845, though the area has kept the name of Kings Cross.[1] A structure in the form of a lighthouse was built on top of a building almost on the site about 30 years later. Known locally as the "Lighthouse Building", the popular theory that the structure was an advertisement for Netten's Oyster Bar on the ground floor seems not to be true.[4] It is a grade II listed building.[5]

King's Cross Railway Station now stands by the junction where the cross stood. The station, designed by architect Lewis Cubitt and opened in 1852, succeeded a short-lived earlier station, erected north of the canal in time for the Great Exhibition.

St Pancras railway station station, owned by the Midland Railway, lies immediately to the west. They both had extensive land ("the railway lands") to house their associated facilities for handling general goods and specialist commodities such as fish, coal, potatoes and grain. The passenger stations on Euston Road far outweighed in public attention the economically more important goods traffic to the north. King's Cross and St Pancras stations, and indeed all London railway stations, made an important contribution to the capital's economy.

After World War II the area declined from being a poor but busy industrial and distribution services district to a partially abandoned post-industrial district. By the 1980s it was notorious for prostitution and drug abuse. This reputation impeded attempts to revive the area, utilising the large amount of land available following the decline of the railway goods yard to the north of the station and the many other vacant premises in the area.

Relatively cheap rents and a central London location made the area attractive to artists and designers and both Antony Gormley and Thomas Heatherwickestablished studios in the area. In the 1990s the government established the King's Cross Partnership[6] to fund regeneration projects, and the commencement of work on High Speed 1 in 2000 provided a major impetus for other projects. Within a few years much of the "socially undesirable" behaviour had moved on, and new projects such as offices and hotels had begun to open. The area has also been for many years home to a number of trades union head offices (including the NUJ, RMT, UNISON, NUT, Community and UCU).

The area has increasingly become home to cultural establishments. The London Canal Museum opened in 1992, and in 1997 a new home for the British Libraryopened next to St Pancras Station. There was a small theatre, the Courtyard. However this had to close in late 2006 as a result of the gentrification of the area caused by a number of regeneration projects here, in this case, Regent's Quarter,across the boundary in Islington.[7] The Gagosian Gallery moved their main London premises to the area in 2004. The London Sinfonietta and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment are based in King's Place, on Battlebridge Basinnext to the Regent's Canal. King's Place is also the home of The Guardian and The Observer newspapers, and of the UK Drug Policy Commission.

The area is expected to remain a major focus of redevelopment through the first two decades of the 21st century. The London terminus of the Eurostarinternational rail service moved to St Pancras station in November 2007. The station's redevelopment led to the demolition of several buildings, including the Gasworks.[8] Following the opening of the new high speed line to the station, redevelopment of the land between the two major stations and the old Kings Cross railwaylands to the rear has commenced, with outline planning permission granted for the whole site. Detailed planning applications[9] for each part of the site] are being made on a rolling programme basis. The site is now called King's Cross Central and is one of the largest construction projects in Greater London in the first quarter of the 21st century.

Model showing the current redevelopment of the Kings Cross area with the new High Speed 1terminal behind the barrel vaulted St Pancras station on the left.

[edit]In popular culture

The Platform 34 at King's Cross Railway Station

For readers of Harry Potter, King's Cross is where the schoolboy hero boards the train for Hogwarts. The railway station has capitalised on tourist interest by putting up a sign for the fictional "Platform 34" described in the books, and burying a luggage trolley, apparently, half into the wall.

King's Cross and its surrounding streets were also the setting for the 1955 Ealing comedyThe Ladykillers and Mike Leigh'sHigh Hopes 1988. Anthony Minghella's 2006 film Breaking and Entering is also set in King's Cross.

The Irish rock group The Pogues were founded in King's Cross.

The British pop music duo Pet Shop Boys recorded a song featured on their 1987 album Actually named "King's Cross": the melancholy track discusses the hopelessness of the AIDS epidemic during that time and uses the Kings Cross area as the "backdrop" of the story, trading on the area's associations with drug use and prostitution. Tracey Thorn covered the song in 2007. Songwriter David Gedge also wrote a song called King's Cross while recording under the name Cinerama.

King's Cross is the setting for the Christopher Fowler mystery, Bryant & May on the Loose (November 2009)

Comedian Ricky Gervais lived there for a while and mentions it in his HBO special.

King's Cross was referred to several times as the drop off and arrival point for characters in the 2010 period drama Downton Abbey.


London King's Cross and London St Pancras are the principal National Rail services in the district. St Pancras is also theEurostar terminus for International services to Paris and BrusselsEuston station is a half-mile to the west.

In the beginning of 2010 Chinese authorities announced a bold plan to link Chinese high speed national railway directly to London King's Cross international railway station. This would allow passengers to reach London from Beijing in just two days.

The nearest London Underground stations is King's Cross St. Pancras.

[edit]Nearby attractions


  1. a b c Walter Thornbury (1878). "Highbury, Upper Holloway and King's Cross"Old and New London: Volume 2. British History Online. pp. 273–279. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  2. ^ Boudica and King's Cross Station, (Museum of London), accessed 6 December 2007
  3. ^ Caesar's Camp at Pancras called the Brill (British Library), accessed 29 December 2010
  4. ^ Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society newsletter, February 2000 (accessed 15 April 2008
  5. ^ Listed building details, Camden Council, accessed 15 April 2008
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Built in the 1860s and rebuilt in the 1880s, the gasholders (of unique linked triplet design) were still in use until 1999. Several gasholders (the site was originally agasworks) that had dominated the area behind station for over a century have been taken down during the building works and placed in storage, and it is intended that they should be re-erected, but converted,possibly for housing.
  9. ^

[edit]External links