Thursday, 17 November 2011

Bring back the Arch

'Train of Events' also gives us a tantalising glimpse of one of London's lost landmarks.  Being familiar with that trio of stations along the Euston Road - St Pancras, Kings Cross and Euston - I have always been architecturally disappointed by Euston.  It's like an afterthought, a shaky 1960s prefab compared to the glory of St Pancras.  This is the concrete record of one of the most jaw-droppingly arrogant travesties of post war redevelopment.  The station was re-built in the early 1960's and the grand arch at the entrance was dismantled and dumped at the bottom of a brook.  If the Euston Arch had been re-erected somewhere else - in a park for example - it might not have been so bad.  But it was treated as rubbish.  John Betjeman and the Victorian Society campaigned unsuccessfully to save it - as he also had to campaign to save St Pancras. That this station was also under threat is too amazing to contemplate - and shows just how far we have come in the last 40 years in appreciating what we have.  Unfortunately, the Euston Arch was sacrificed on the altar of myopic modernisation, along with many of the country's railway lines.

If you watch 'Train of Events' you can catch a short shot of the arch.  It is there to represent the beginning of a scene on the station itself.  The camera doesn't linger - a second is enough for everyone to recognise the landmark and its meaning and the film takes it for granted.  What a shame it didn't take us through it.

I'm so glad I was born on the St Pancras side of the Pennines, anyone arriving into the capital from Manchester or Liverpool doesn't get much of a welcome at Euston.  We should hold this station up as a lesson in planning and ensure that this kind of arrogance is never allowed to happen again.  Something may eventually be done about it.  Visit for more information.

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