Start of a new chapter for King’s Cross
26 September 2013 • Author: Network Rail
An exciting new chapter in the 160-year history of King’s Cross station began today when the Secretary of State for Transport, Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin, Mayor of London, Boris Johnson and Network Rail’s chief executive, Sir David Higgins today (26 September, 11:30am) declared the new King’s Cross Square officially open. The occasion was marked by the pulling of a Victorian railway signal lever and explosion of streamer canons.
The 75,000 sq ft public space is the final part of the £550m redevelopment of King’s Cross station to be completed and follows the renovation of the original station building and its platforms and the construction of the spectacular new western concourse, which opened to passengers in March 2012. The demolition of the unloved 1970s concourse and the creation of King’s Cross Square in its place means the Grade 1 listed station’s full historic façade can be seen in all its glory for the first time for 150 years.
Designed by architects Stanton Williams, the square is big enough to accommodate Big Ben clock tower laid down lengthways and offers rail users, local people and those now moving to work and study in the area a brand new open space as well as improved entrances to the London Underground, an area dedicated to public art, and a stunning lighting scheme to highlight the area’s architectural features.
Early morning commuters were welcomed to the new square by Victorian-themed ‘living statues’ who entertained people in the space, giving a nod to the station’s heritage in what is London’s newest public open space.
Speaking at the grand opening, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said, “I have been travelling to and from my Derbyshire Constituency for years and I remember when King’s Cross and St Pancras were not places you would hang around. Now it is a destination in its own right.
“The official opening of King’s Cross Square marks the completion of one of the largest station modernisation projects across our national rail network and one of the government’s top infrastructure projects. With more platforms, a redesigned concourse and improved facilities, work at this iconic station has transformed the experience of thousands of rail passengers travelling into London for the better.
“It has also been the catalyst for one of the largest regeneration schemes in Europe, attracting £2.2bn of private investment and allowing the ongoing development of more than 60 acres of brown-field land into offices and retail space and the construction of 2,000 new homes for Londoners.
“Major investment in our railways is just one part of a pipeline of over £100 billion worth of public investment in infrastructure projects over the next parliament announced by government earlier this year. By investing in our infrastructure we are helping build growth in our economy over the long term.”
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said, “The transformation of King’s Cross is not only beautiful but it has also triggered all sorts of regeneration, with new jobs, huge numbers of homes being built and businesses relocating here. What has emerged is a fantastic open space which has led to the creation of a whole new vibrant district. It is the perfect example of a point I have always made, if you support good transport links the jobs and growth will follow.”
David Higgins, Network Rail chief executive, added: “Today we mark the coronation of King’s Cross, and finally give the new-look station and surrounding area the entrance they deserve.
“The investment into the station’s redevelopment has been a catalyst for more than £2.2bn of private investment to the area, an area that is swiftly becoming one of our capitals’ most vibrant and thriving places to be.
“The attraction of unrivalled transport links has successfully caught the attention of both global and UK businesses to date, together with hundreds of new residents and the student body at the University of the Arts London campus.
“I’m confident King’s Cross will continue to flourish. This is just the beginning of a new chapter.”
Last year, King’s Cross station welcomed the opening of the brand new western concourse, providing rail passengers three-and-a-half times more space than the 1970s concourse that it replaced. Since the new concourse opened, passenger satisfaction at the station has increased by 33%.
Now declared open, the celebrations will continue into the weekend (Saturday 28 – Sunday 29 September) with a Victorian-inspired carnival taking place across the King’s Cross area including King’s Cross Square, the Boulevard, and Granary Square. Celebrating the area’s historical roots, traditional fairground rides, food stalls, and entertainment will be open to passengers and the local community to enjoy.