Tuesday, 20 January 2015

On Soane, St Pancras and links to the future

Many of you will remember my post on St Pancras. Something I read today made me want to start there again. In my role as a less posh, less erudite and far less photogenic Lucinda Lambton, I want to do a stroll through a few ephemera in London, which will probably be very tenuously linked.

Let me start from something familiar. Here's Alistair Langley's new station at St. Pancras:

Photo courtesy www.mimoa.eu

The idea, for those who are unfamiliar, is that domestic trains terminate in the new station, international trains in the old station. This keeps diesel fumes out of the restored train shed. However, the line is to be electrified by 2020. This had led to a comment on a blog to which I contribute suggesting that in order to cater for increased traffic, the new station should be increased from four platforms to six.

Now, this is not the audience for an argument as to why that might not work without six tracks to Luton. I'd like to look at an immediate counter-argument regarding St. Pancras cemetery. Let's not worry for the moment whether it is really in the way, but close to the new station is buried Sir John Soane in St Pancras Old Church. His is one of two Grade I monuments in London, the other being that of Karl Marx in Highgate Cemetery.

Photo courtesy Wikipedia, author David Edgar

Here's Comrade Karl, just in case you didn't know what Marx's monument looks like:

Photo courtesy Wikipedia

So let's establish a date for Soane's death - January 1837. Queen Victoria hadn't yet taken the throne. Yet when I look at Soane's monument I see this, designed 1926:

Photo courtesy Wikipedia, author Christoph Braun

So here we have the 'premonition' of the telephone box, 89 years before it was invented by Giles Gilbert Scott . Giles Gilbert Scott, who he? Well he's the grandson of George Gilbert Scott, the designer of St Pancras Station. Small world?