Bradshaw, Hand Book to London, Day 8 (no.49)

‘Taking a northerly course, we pursue our way from Holborn up Gray’s Inn Lane, in which stands the Royal Free Hospital, founded in 1828..[to help] all destitute persons requiring medical relief..’. The hospital was founded by William Marsden, whose name cancer patients will recognise. The building is now the Eastman Dental Hospital, and the Royal Free is in Hampstead.

The former Royal Free Hospital
The former Royal Free Hospital

‘..King’s Cross, so called from an execrable statue of George IV that stood there till 1842..’, and also known as ‘Battle Bridge’..’. Hmm, I leave you to judge the statue!

Monument to George IV at King's Cross
Monument to George IV at King’s Cross

The mention of ‘Battle Bridge’ leads to some interesting facts. As you can see from the map below it marks a wavy line – the Fleet River. Battle Bridge may have been a settlement at some point, with a river crossing. The Fleet River runs under Pancras Road, past St Pancras Old Church, past the front of the station along the curve of King’s Cross Road and then down the Clerkenwell Road to the Thames.

Bowles's Reduced New Pocket Plan Of The Cities Of London And Westminster With The Borough Of Southwark, Exhibiting The New Buildings To The Year 1775.
Bowles’s Reduced New Pocket Plan Of The Cities Of London And Westminster
With The Borough Of Southwark, Exhibiting The New Buildings To The Year 1775.

‘..Here is the terminus of the Great Northern Railway, for which the site was cleared in 1850..’. The Terminus, designed by Lewis Cubitt (younger brother of Thomas Cubitt who we have been following around London), was built on the site of the smallpox hospital (see the map above) in 1851-52. It was also intended as the terminus for the East Coast Line.

Kings Cross Station, in the Illustrated London News, 1852
Kings Cross Station, in the Illustrated London News, 1852
King's Cross Station today
King’s Cross Station today
Interior of King's Cross Station
Interior of King’s Cross Station

The Flying Scotsman is the train perhaps most associated with the station and the first service between London and Edinburgh ran in 1862 – just too late for Mr Bradshaw – with the first service taking 10½ hours.

Cubitt added The Great Northern Hotel in 1854, a curved building to the west of the station, lost in the traffic and congestion and building works.

Cubitt's Great Northern Hotel
Cubitt’s Great Northern Hotel

On the left of the picture is St Pancras Station and the Midland Grand Hotel – after Mr Bradshaw’s time, but certainly deserving of a little diversion!

You may be interested in
London’s Lost Rivers

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