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St Pancras Station
Euston Road, Kings Cross, London, UK
St Pancras Station
associated engineer
William Henry Barlow
date  1866 - 1st October 1868
era  Victorian  |  category  Building  |  reference  TQ300829
ICE reference number  HEW 237
photo  courtesy Graces Guide
The train shed at London's St Pancras Station was built as the terminus of the Midland Railway. When it opened in 1868, it was the largest enclosed space in the world. Facing the street, the complex is fronted by the grand Gothic sweep of the former Midland Grand Hotel of 1873, now restored to its former glory.
The train shed was designed by civil and mechanical engineer William Henry Barlow (1812-1902). Barlow's railway career had included positions as resident engineer for several already-existing railway networks, including the Midland Railway, where he later became Engineer-in-chief (until 1857). He then became a consulting engineer.
Barlow was responsible for a number of branch lines and extensions on the Midland Railway before tackling the St Pancras terminal. The arched train shed was the largest railway terminus of the period, in all its dimensions, including its span of 73.15m (240ft).
The roof is composed of open-work wrought iron ribs, set at just of 9m centres. Each half-arch is a compound curve based on two circular segments and the overall effect acheived is a slightly pointed arch. Barlow was assisted by Roland Mason Ordish (1824-86) in the detail of the roof design. The arches reach some 30.5m above platform level.
Track level at St Pancras is 5.2m higher than Euston Road because the trains approaching the station cross the nearby Regent's Canal, and had to do so at a height sufficient to allow the boat traffic through. As the tracks had to be raised, an undercroft was created below them, and this was used originally to store beer brought down from Burton-on-Trent.
Also below track level, the wrought iron tie girders the restrain the train shed's arched ribs double up as floor beams for the platforms and concourse. They are supported on a grid of 720 cast iron columns rising from street level, which are in turn founded on brick and gritstone piers.
The train shed was designed for steam locomotives, and these required water. Seven waterpoints served the station, fed from a 63,000 litre cast iron water tank. In November 2001, one of the masonry waterpoints was moved to make way for the Channel Tunnel trains that now use the station. A Grade II listed structure, the structure was 9m high. It was cut in three horizontally and the top two slices — weighing a total of 238 tonnes — were moved 700m to the north and installed on a replica of the base, which could not be moved as it's an integral part of the undercroft.
In 2003, work began on the redevelopment of St Pancras and the installation of infrastructure to enable the station to serve the international Eurostar service — all part of the High Speed 1 project, formerly known as the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. In effect, a new station has been constructed next to the original and the train shed extended.
The original station floor has been strengthened and the undercroft opened up to form a new concourse. The station entrance is now at ground level. The track deck and station floor have been replaced with reinforced concrete slabs supported on the original cast iron columns. The girders that tie the roof arch have been retained but are now load-free. Some of the piers have been consolidated using grout injections. Slots cut in the deck slabs let 70m long travelators take passengers up and down, and let light into the undercroft.
Barlow's shed has been extended to the north by 240m. The new steel frame structure is supported on 20m columns set on a 30m grid, and is wider than the original shed. It is clad in aluminium louvres and glass. The old and new buildings are linked by a 22.5m glass passage, more than 100m wide.
Just to complicate things further, a new Thameslink station has been constructed inside a ‘box’ of 1.2m diameter contiguous bored piles, 400m long and 24m deep, beneath part of the extension. This was done during the main construction period.
HM Queen Elizabeth II opened the redeveloped St Pancras Station on 6th November 2007. The Eurostar service began on 14th November 2007.
Assistant engineer: Rowland Mason Ordish
Architect (Midland Grand Hotel): Sir George Gilbert Scott
Iron fabrication and erection: Butterley Company
Redevlopment masterplan (2003): Foster + Partners
Research: ECPK
reference sources   CEH LondBCDE2

St Pancras Station