Many thanks to Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre on Theobalds Road who spent a great deal of time last week helping to uncover the mysteries of our east/west route across what is now King’s Cross Station. We begin in 1849, before the station existed. Towards the bottom of the picture on the left is the land that would, within the next three years, become the station. Running top to bottom is Suffolk Street, later to be named Battlebridge Road. Frustratingly, maps of this time always ended at the borough boundary which is now called York Way and was then Maiden Lane. The route from Suffolk Street to Maiden Lane can clearly be seen, it is this very route that we want restored to the community. (Click on the map to enlarge it, right click to open it in a new window or to save a copy.) It may seem like a long time ago… but follow the story to see where we end up!
With the Great Northern Railway station completed, the map shown from 1860 shows Congreve Street has been replaced by a road bridge across the new railway tracks, but the Suffolk Street route is missing. Goodsway doesn’t yet exist.
In 1872 the Great Northern Railway company (GNR) applied to St Pancras Parish Council to build a bridge across the tracks taking what was now named Battlebridge Road across the tracks to York Road – present day York Way. This would restore the east/west route that had existed for centuries and had been missing in the original plan for the station. There was some difficulty getting the bridge built. Some of the land required for the bridge was owned by the Midland Railway company and had to be aquired by GNR. Competition between the two companies resulted in this being a long protracted process. St Pancras Parish Council stepped in. Vestry Minutes dating back to 1872 show councillors pressing GNR to make progress on building the bridge which had not, by then, been started. GNR told the council of their difficulty with Midland Railway and of problems purchasing the iron needed for construction. By 1874 the bridge was complete, as shown on the Ordnance Survey (OS) map on the left.
The bridge survived for many years. It appears on the OS map of 1914, below right. By then, the Congreve Street bridge had been removed, just a stub remains, it’s original underpass is shown as a diagonal cross below the basin, next to a signal point. Goodsway still doesn’t exist.
The first available post World War 1 map is the OS of 1922. Suddenly Battlebridge Road now stops on the western side of the tracks, the bridge has gone. Goodsway has now been built and joins Battlebridge Road at the far western end. Although the original east/west route has disappeared, Lewis Cubbit’s original design for the station including the current entrance at the junction of Wharfdale Road and York Way remains. This gives some access across the tracks via the Handyside Bridge inside the station.
Bringing us right up to date… the Handyside Bridge is to be demolished in the current station redevelopment. A new ‘Platform Y’ will result in closure of the Wharfdale Road/York Way entrance. For the first time in centuries there will be no east/west route at the mid-point of what is now King’s Cross Station joining the two substantial communities of King’s Cross and Somers Town on either side. And they call this progress…