If the name King’s Cross summons up images of dreary train stations, grubby streets and a slightly seedy vibe, you wouldn’t be alone in that thought. The area isn’t one of London’s most popular destinations but, in fact, there’s a lot more to this place than first appears.
King’s Cross is much more than one of London’s busy transport hubs where tourists come to see Platform 9¾… Growing in popularity and with lots of development going on, in the past few months it’s quickly emerged as one of the capital’s must-visit spots. Here are four things to see and do that prove there’s more to KX than meets the eye.
There’s a tree that Thomas Hardy ‘planted’
Before he became one of the country’s most celebrated writers, Thomas Hardy worked as an assistant at an architecture firm. Said firm was once tasked with clearing a St Pancras graveyard site in order to make way for a new train line to meet commuting demand. A young Hardy was assigned the job and his solution was to move the hundreds of gravestones in a circular pattern around an old ash tree in the churchyard. Today this spot is known as the Hardy Tree. Discover this historic spot along with other famous locations in the area with the help of this King’s Cross area guide.
There’s a psychedelic tunnel
The King’s Cross Tunnel, which links King’s Cross station to shops and restaurants in One Pancras Square, has to be seen to be believed. The 90-metre long pedestrian tunnel, designed by architects Allies & Morrison, goes at a gentle curve and features an ‘art wall’ made from LED lights which is used to showcase artists’ work. Check it out!
There’s a floating bookshop
Head round the back of King’s Cross station and make your way to Granary Square, which sits by the Grand Union canal. Here you’ll find Word on the Water, a floating second-hand bookshop which stocks thousands of books spanning a variety of genres. And that’s not all – the shop also hosts poetry slams and has live music on its roof stage. There’s a resident dog too, naturally. The perfect place to while away an hour, especially in summertime.
There’s a piece of secret art
You’d be excused for missing it, but the entrance to King’s Cross St Pancras underground station features a subtle piece of artwork. Full Circle by Knut Henrik Henriksen – seen at the entrance to the Northern and Piccadilly line platforms – is the first permanent artwork to be installed at an underground station since the 1980s. Framed by stainless steel panels, the work is designed to reflect the contemporary design of the modern station and how far it has come since its original Victorian design.
So there you have it, you don’t have to look hard to see that there’s far more to King’s Cross than meets the eye. Where will you visit first?