St Pancras International
- Original design
- Gilbert Scott, 1868
- Foster + Partners, Lansley, 2007
The 2017 programme is now past. We will be launching the 2018 programme in July.
- The station was designed by William Henry Barlow, a prominent civil engineer of the 19th Century, in 1868 for the Midland Railway Company who wanted to extend their railway to London.
- The Midland Railway Company was fed up with the rising access and storage charges imposed by King’s Cross station so they charged Barlow with building them the most opulent grand station in London.
- Barlow had several obstacles in his way, mainly the issue of crossing Regents Canal.
- He combatted this problem by building the station on top of a platform deck supported by 690 iron pillars.
- Barlow’s crowning glory at St. Pancras was his design and construction of the train shed, which is considered an engineering wonder. Known as the Barlow Shed, the building’s glass roof consists of two and a half acres of glass which works out as 4,100 glazing panels and 9,400 square metres of glass (the equivalent of 38 tennis courts). When opened in October 1868 it was the largest iron structure in the world and although it was eventually surpassed in size, it is still the world’s largest single enclosed station.
- The Barlow shed is more of a pinnacle than a smooth arch. If you are able to bring an arch down to floor level as near as vertical as possible, the more stable the arch will be. By fixing the ends of the arch to strong box-like girders, known as Barlow’s boots that are bolted to the floor, Barlow was able to take the arch all the way to floor level, thus minimising the forces acting on the arch.
- During the construction of the station the Midland Railway Company held a competition for the design of an adjoining hotel, which was finally won by George Gilbert Scott. Scott had a particular style and was one of the major neo-gothic architects of the Victorian era; consequently the Midland Grand Hotel’s (now the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel) façade was the epitome of gothic architecture with its pointed arches and flamboyant design.
- Work on the original station took 6,000 men, 1,000 horses and 100 steam cranes.
- By 1935 the Grand Midland Hotel was closed and by the 1960’s St. Pancras station had fallen into disrepair. This saw the emergence of a campaign to save both the Barlow shed and the Chambers, led by the poet laureate John Betjeman.
- The campaign resulted in the station being awarded Grade I listed status in November 1967 preventing any alterations to the building.
- The process of transformation meant working closely with the London Borough of Camden and English Heritage, and the negotiation of 30 detailed agreements were drafted and signed ensuring the protection of the heritage structure.
- This entailed working over Barlow’s original plans, finding every record available and using where possible exactly the same materials; for instance, Loughborough bricks, Lancaster stone, and Welsh slate from quarries as close as possible to those used by Barlow.
- To create the bricks the station’s owner HS1 Ltd. re-opened the original brickworks in Loughborough which was used in the construction of the original St Pancras station. A lime-based mortar was used to yield the finest brickwork.
- Over 60 million bricks were used in the restoration project.
- St Pancras International claimed the supreme winner prize at the 2006 National Brick Awards - otherwise known as the ‘Brick Oscars’!
- This attention to detail carried on throughout the restoration including the final paintwork of the shed. A new paint was created specially for the station called ‘English Heritage Barlow Blue’ and is almost an exact match to the original blue. 20,000 litres of the paint were used.
It is the most connected rail hub in Europe – up to 1m passengers per week pass through the station.
- Has been named UK’s best station for six years in a row.
- The station now has a total of 13 platforms - nine high speed platforms (six for international and three for domestic) as well as four classic platforms.
- 25% of visitors at St Pancras are not here to travel. This has allowed St Pancras International to become a destination in its own right.
- The station plays host not only to retail and food outlets, but to music festivals, exciting retailer activity and world class art exhibitions.
- The first train leaves St Pancras International at 05:40 and the last train arrives at 22:39.
- Eurostar currently operates a fleet of 27 trains.
- Each train is 400 metres long and is made up of 18 passenger carriages and two power cars.
- The Barlow shed was extended to accommodate six new Eurostar train lines.
- The Grand Terrace is the showcase for the awe-inspiring architecture of St. Pancras International with uninterrupted views of the Barlow shed and roof.
- The Chinese Arch at the clock end of the Grand Terrace is so named as it is thought that it was adjacent to the Chinese laundry which was part of the original Midland Grand Hotel back in the Victorian era.
- The St Pancras Dent Clock that presides over the station is an exact replica of the original. In the 1980s, a rich American planned to buy the original clock from British Rail for £250,000.
- Whilst being lowered from its central position, the clock was dropped and smashed. The deal fell through; however the clock survived thanks to a railway engineer from Nottinghamshire. With nothing but a wheelbarrow and £25, he brought the parts home and painstakingly put it back together. It now sits on the side of his barn.
- The Grand Terrace is also home to the longest Champagne bar in Europe, at 96 metres long. The bar is operated by Searcy’s and sells around 1,000 glasses of champagne a day and well over a million since it opened. The Betjeman Arms pub is named after the much loved poet John Betjeman, who famously saved St Pancras. The pub sells 1,400 pints of the exclusive Betjeman Ale beer every week, made especially for them by Sharps in Cornwall.
- Terrace Wires is a new rotational public art space at St Pancras International. Over the next few years, the Grand Terrace at St Pancras International (the beautiful rooftop from which the Olympic Rings hung last summer during the Games) will host a series of public art installations.
- The first piece, Cloud: Meteoros was designed by celebrated sculptor and artist Lucy Orta and her husband Jorge.
- Inspired by the history and grandeur of the station itself, Lucy + Jorge Orta have designed Cloud: Meteoros to unite people inside the station with the world outside. The cloud hovers above the buzz of visitors to St Pancras with figures gently resting on top who echo the passengers waiting on the platforms below. The artists envisioned a Greek Agora – a meeting place – when they conceived the concept of the figures gathering together on the cloud. Sized at 15m wide, 3m high and 3m deep. The installation is making a lasting impact with visitors.
- Cloud: Meteoros launched in April 2013. A new piece of artwork unveiled in spring 2014.
Paul Day’s The Meeting Place (The Lovers):
- Commissioned to commemorate the transformation of St. Pancras to St. Pancras International
- Designed by the sculptor Paul Day, the statue’s design of a couple in a loving embrace symbolises the intrinsic nature of St. Pancras International, a place where loved ones say goodbye and are reunited. Commonly known as the ‘St. Pancras Lovers’ the statue has become an iconic piece of art for St. Pancras International.
Weighs 20 tonnes – the same as 20 cars
Stands at 30 feet tall/ 9 meters
- John Betjeman was the driving force behind saving the Barlow shed and the adjoining hotel, including securing the building its Grade I listed status.
- To commemorate Betjeman’s work, Martin Jennings was commissioned to create a statue of Betjeman to secure his place in St. Pancras International’s history.
- The statue depicts a larger than life Betjeman holding on to his hat gazing in wonder at the Barlow roof. The statue commemorates Betjeman and draws attention to the engineering marvel of the glass roof, which is one of the reasons Betjeman fought so hard to have the station saved.
Stands at 2 metres tall
Cast in bronze
Stands on a flat disc of Cumbrian slate inscribed with lines from Betjeman’s poem Cornish Cliffs
The one and only Sir Elton John surprised and delighted St Pancras visitors in February 2016 with a mesmerizing piano medley.
Not only did the Rocket Man put on a performance but he also gave a gift to the station by leaving a brand new Yamaha piano behind, which he very kindly signed before donating.
His message reads:
“Enjoy this piano. It’s a gift. Love, Elton John.”
The gifted piano has been protected and rolled into the concourse for everyone to enjoy.
The station has become a destination in its own right, boasting more shops than any other railway station, its own fresh produce market, the longest Champagne Bar in Europe and a Gastro Pub.