The spectacular train station that you may know best from Harry Potter has a much more vibrant history than you may have ever thought. Beautiful and vibrant, it’s also the busiest of all the stations you’ll find in the UK and it’s a whole lot more even than just that. King’s Cross is actually a gateway to culture, restaurants, and shopping because as soon as you step out the door you’re going to find something amazing that you won’t want to miss. But there’s a whole lot more to know about this amazing place, so let’s take a closer look at just what you may have always wondered.
The Background of King’s Cross Station
Back in 1852, when King’s Cross was first opened, it was actually named after a nearby statue of King George IV. It had first been imagined and designed back in 1848, taking an additional four years before it was finally ready to actually open up. Even at the time, it was the largest station in England, with the largest roof ever. Small, practical and quite basic, the station served to transport riders throughout England, but that wasn’t enough.
The station slowly started to expand, opening all of the eight platforms that had originally been built and even building on three more. The total of 11 platforms was still not enough for the massive flood of people who wanted to travel through, even though they made the station the largest one in all of England. It wasn’t until 2002 that they managed to continue adding on even more platforms in an attempt to keep up with the continued growth that had followed them for over 150 years.
Even more work continued to take place throughout the next 17 years as well, with more construction starting in 2007 to build the Western Concourse and to restore the original entrance. Beautiful, amazing and always changing, you’ll find that this spectacular station is always upgrading. It’s always improving. It’s also adding on. After all, how are they going to serve so many people traveling across England and beyond without continuously making the station itself even better, even bigger and even more modern?
What You’ll Find
The current services aren’t just about the trains, however. This station also includes St. Pancras International and the St. Pancras tube stations, helping riders get just about anywhere and everywhere they might need to go. Trains include the Great Northern, the Grand Central, Hull and the London North Eastern railways. They travel to areas like Cambridge, Hertford North, Peterborough, Stevenage and more and they travel all the time.
You’ll find intercity services, high-speed trains and connecting lines throughout England, as well. If you’re looking to get to Paris, Amsterdam or Brussels you can get there from King’s Cross by St. Pancras International’s Eurostar. If you’re looking to go to the Hammersmith & City or Victoria or Piccadilly lines you can connect to those directly through King’s Cross as well. It opens you up to the entirety of the country and makes it possible to get anywhere at all.
You’re going to be amazed at just what you can do from this station and you’re definitely going to love the versatility and variety. You can take just about any type of transportation you want in order to get there and to leave there.
Where You’ll Find It
If you’re trying to get to King’s Cross yourself you just need to get to Euston Road in Zone 1. You’ll even have access directly from five different international airports that include some of the most well-known, such as Gatwick and Heathrow. If you still aren’t quite sure you can take one of 14 different buses or a taxi to get there. And of course, each of these options is going to get you wherever you want to go when you leave the station as well.
If you’re going to be traveling just through King’s Cross (the city not the station) you can enjoy walking through the area. But if you’re going to be traveling far you’re definitely going to want to check out one of the many options to get you there.
Even more, while you’re traveling throughout the station looking for your platform amidst all the hustle and bustle, you’ll find customer help points to direct you on your way, whether you need a platform, an ATM, a bathroom, a shower or even a locker for your luggage. All of these things are going to help you get where you’re going, feel more comfortable and have everything you’re going to need when you get there.
Enjoying the Area
When you head outside after your long trip from anywhere practically in the world, you might be in need of a bite to eat, right? Well, that’s not going to be a problem because you’ll find just about anything and everything outside the front steps. From some of the best fine dining around to the quickest quick service you can find, there’s a bit of everything, and in every culture and style, you could imagine. Whether you’re in the mood for Mexican food, British, vegan, Indian, Greek or something else entirely, you’re going to find it right there, waiting for you.
That’s definitely going to make it a great place for you to visit even if you’re not actually taking the train (or the tube) anywhere at all. If you’re just visiting the area and couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see the historic King’s Cross Station or even if you live in the area, the food is worth stopping in for. Everyone in your party will be able to get what they like best and that’s going to definitely make people a lot happier, don’t you think?
Check Out Harry Potter
Remember how we mentioned it’s the station you probably know from Harry Potter? Well the station has definitely capitalized on the Harry Potter fame because they created an entire store that showcases plenty of merchandise you’ll recognize from the movie. You can get all your favorite wizarding gear and make sure that you’re prepped and ready to act out your absolute favorite parts from the movie. Of course, you could also just take it home with you if you prefer.
Plus, it’s located right next to Platform 9 ¾, where you’ll find the platform marker as well as a luggage trolley halfway through the gate. It’s a perfect opportunity to live out your own childhood fantasy of heading off to Hogwarts. You don’t have to feel weird about it either because plenty of people (young and old alike) travel to King’s Cross every year and even every day to do the exact same thing. You may even have to stand in line.
Take a Shopping Spree
Of course, if you’re not into Harry Potter (or if you’re going to need some muggle merchandise for your trip as well) you’ll want to take a closer look at the other shops that litter the entire area. You’ll find everything from Paperchase, Waitrose and Marks and Spencer to John Lewis, Whistles and Accessorize located right in the station. That means you don’t even need to leave in order to find some truly amazing products and definitely anything you may have forgotten on your trip. Each of these shops are going to make it super easy for you to get everything you need.
If for some reason you can’t find what you’re looking for, or if you want even more of a shopping spree, you can stop at some of the high end shops that are located right outside the station, like Chalton Street Market, Jigsaw and Nike Central. There’s going to be a little of everything up and down the streets here as well, which means just one more reason you might want to visit.
Where to Stay
When you travel anywhere you’re going to need a place that you can rest, relax and recharge for whatever you might have planned coming up. Outside of King’s Cross you’re going to find everything from the most affordable bed and breakfasts starting at just £40 up to some of the most lavish apartments you could want for £200. There are even hostels available right in the same area that are going to give you a bed with a bunch of other budget travelers for a fraction of the cost of even the bed and breakfast option. So if you’re looking to stay low on finances that’s going to be the way to go.
For those who don’t want to stay so close to the station or who are heading on to a different destination, there are plenty more places to stay in some of the surrounding towns. You’ll find hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts and a whole lot more in just about any price range you could think of. That means you don’t have to worry about whether you have a lot of money or just a little. You’ll find somewhere clean and comfortable.
What to Do
Once you’re done with all the shopping, getting some food and exploring the station itself you’re going to find a number of additional things to do around the area. That’s because there’s the British Museum and British Library located just down the road. And those are going to be amazing places that you definitely don’t want to miss out on. That’s because the library actually has original lyrics handwritten by the Beatles and the Magna Carta and even Jane Austin’s personal notebook. If you’re a history buff those are going to be things you’re definitely not going to want to miss out on experiencing.
When you step foot in the British Museum you’ll find the one and only Rosetta Stone and some amazing exhibits you’ll never see anywhere else. Charles Dickens home is even located nearby, as are some of the most amazing views and sights at the Russell Square gardens and Regent’s Canal. All of these sites are going to be a must for a traveler and they might even be a must for the locals because they definitely offer you a whole lot of fun and places to explore. There’s no reason to just check out the station and head home.
Scandals, Damage and Disasters
There have actually been a number of incidents that have occurred in the area both around and actually in King’s Cross Station, though nothing in recent times. Rather, there was a collision between a light engine and coal train back in 1881, there’s been flooding throughout the tunnels, stopping traffic for hours and there’s even been trains derailed, like in 1945 when a derailed train killed two. Even with the deaths and the injuries that have occurred, however, and the damage to the station itself, it managed to survive World War I without any damage.
The explosion in 1973 was one of the most damaging incidents to occur for the station itself, though no one was killed and only 6 were wounded. It was in approximately 1996 that everything really started to improve though and no new situations have arisen since then. In fact, the station started to really improve the neighborhood as well because that’s when the surrounding area started to take shape in the ways that we know today. We can thank the privatization of the area for the benefits that came about from that.
When it comes to the history buff, the landmark tourist, the Harry Potter fanatic or anyone else, there’s going to be plenty to check out both at King’s Cross Station and nearby. In fact, King’s Cross Station is an amazing place both for itself and for the amazing location that it finds itself in. Whether you’re traveling in, traveling out or just looking for an amazing place to visit you’re going to absolutely love it. And you’re going to learn a whole lot about the area while you’re at it.