On 18th November 1987, a passenger reported a small fire on the up escalator. It was reported as a minor incident and the fire brigade were on site within 10 mins. However, a few minutes later a fireball erupted from the Northern/Piccadilly escalators and set the ticket hall on fire. It took 6 hours to bring the fire under control. It killed 31 people. The, then, unknown phenomenon of the 'trench effect' made the fire develop upwards and caused it to explode in the ticket hall. Following the fire extensive work was carried out at the station to improve passenger flow and reduce congestion. Work began in 2000 and incorporated the expansion of St Pancras station which was to become the new terminal for Eurostar services to France and Belgium.
I walked up the stairs to the King's Cross National Rail concourse which opened in March 2012 in time for the London Olympics. Trains from this station take you to the North of England and Scotland. It is the only station in the UK to have a Platform 0.
And as Harry Potter fans know there is also a platform 9 3/4 where Harry and fellow school mates caught the train to Hogworts. There is always a long queue waiting to have their photograph taken pushing the trolley.
I left King's Cross station via a walkway which took me through to St Pancras station.St Pancras station was built in 1866 as the London terminus of the Midland Railway. When it was built the train shed was the largest single structure ever built.
Beneath the clock in St Pancras International station, London, you will find this 20 tonne bronze statue called 'The Meeting'.
Created by Paul Day it stands over 30 ft high and tries to reflect the romantic side of travelling. Modelled on himself and his half-French wife, the sculptor wanted to show the meeting between an Englishman and his French lover. (St Pancras is home to the Eurostar train, London's gateway to Europe.) The statue has had many critics who felt it was too large and detracted from the beautiful railway station's architecture.
Below the statue is a frieze depicting different journeys on a railway theme.
On the lower level of the station there are numerous shops, bars and restaurants. There is also a piano. Pianos are becoming a feature in a number of rail stations. Anyone can play it if they wish. Fortunately, I have only heard accomplished players taking advantage of the instruments and not those whose repertoire just consists of 'chopsticks'!
Across the front of the station is this red brick gothic facade of the St Pancras Renaissance London Hotel, previously called The Midland Grand Hotel. It was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott and was the last and most extravagant of the great railway hotels.
Leaving St Pancras station I turned left to walk across the large expanse of King's Cross Square to get a better view of the frontage of King's Cross station.
One half of the Square is dominated by a Henry Moore sculpture. I walked through the Square to Gray's Inn Road.
On the corner of Pentonville and Gray's Inn Road is a building known as 'The Lighthouse'. Its origins are not known although there have been a number of explanations over the years. The most popular theory was that the lighthouse was advertising the building's original purpose as an oyster house. Legend has it that when fresh oysters were delivered the beacon would light up. The building was erected in 1875 but was left to deteriorate for many years. However with the regeneration of the area the building has been brought back to life and will be used as office accommodation.
Next door is a Travelodge hotel which used to be the home of the Willing Family who had made their money from billboard advertising.
Many of the historical collections are the result of donations. The 'Old Royal Library' containing 2000 manuscripts collected by the sovereigns of England was given to the library by George II in 1757. George III donated the King's library after the death of his son George IV. It consists of 85,000 volumes including a first printing of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and a first folio edition of Shakespeare's plays. They are housed in a six storey bronze and glass tower at the heart of the library.
Outside the library is a statue entitled 'Newton' after William Blake by Eduardo Paolozzi.
I continued along Midland Road to these gates. They lead up to Old St Pancras Church.
This drinking fountain was gifted to the church in 1877 by William Thornton,a senior church warden. In 1968 the Beatles were photographed here spitting water at the camera lenses.
Before becoming an author and poet Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) studied architecture under the supervision of a Mr Blomfield. During the 1860s the Midland railway was going to be built over part of St Pancras Churchyard. This meant that the bodies buried there had to be exhumed and moved. The Bishop of London employed Mr Blomfield to carry out the task, who then gave the unenviable job to Mr Hardy.
Hardy would have spent many hours in this churchyard overseeing the removal of the remains and the dismantling of the tombs. The headstones around the base of this ash tree were moved here during that time. The roots of the tree have now grown between the headstones.
Many more of the graves had to be moved were moved again in the 2000s for High Speed Rail.
Three gasholders, built in 1860 were part of the King's Cross landscape for 150 years. They were used for the storage of town gas for Pancras Gasworks, the largest gasworks in London. Gas was manufactured here using coal from the Gas, Light and Coke Company until the late 20th century when the gasworks were decommissioned.
In 2011 the gasholders were dismantled and removed to a specialist engineering company in Yorkshire. In 2013 they were returned to King's Cross and re-erected on a site overlooking Regent's Canal and St Pancras Basin. Two out of the three linked frameworks sit around apartment buildings..
This is the King's Boulevard, a newly created shopping street linking the station to Granary Square.
This is a new and impressive entrance to the King's Cross St Pancras underground station off the King's Boulevard.