diamond geezer

 Sunday, November 06, 2011

It's taken me a while to visit London's newest street. So long in fact that it probably isn't London's newest street any more. King's Boulevard, in the freshly-minted postcode of N1C, was quietly unveiled back in September. It's currently a road with one main purpose - to help students get to college - but soon to be rather more important than that. It's also the first road across the former railway lands north of King's Cross, or at least the first since they demolished all that was here before and started again. What used to be here included Battle Bridge Road, a terrace of tall Victorian brick buildings (and the setting for 1955 film The Ladykillers). All gone, flattened, erased... and now King's Boulevard curves through instead.

The street starts by the German Gymnasium, at the nexus where the re-aligned King's Cross will face the revamped St Pancras. The GG was London's first purpose-built gymnasium, now nearly a century and a half old, and will be the only building on King's Boulevard dating from pre-2012. For now the road has a pair of pavements squeezed between low hoardings, behind which construction work of an urgent nature is proceeding. At least one of the buildings beyond is scheduled for next Spring, although you wouldn't guess while all the digging remains at foundation level. A series of oversize postcards depict what Two, Four and Six Pancras Square will look like, and quite frankly it's nothing to get excited about. Make the most of the uphill stroll now, with distant glimpses of architectural character, because eventually this'll be a deep glass canyon of bog-standard offices and mixed use units.

A vast regeneration project is afoot, courtesy of developers Argent. It's taken years to get this far, and only a smidgeon of the eventual 67 acres is yet opened up. Someone in the project team has brightened up the hoardings on the eastern pavement with a series of stories, detailing the area's history and its future potential. Some of these are deeply interesting, some geographically misplaced, and some guilty of appalling hyperbole. If you're the copywriter who wrote the drivel about KX shopping ("Look in vain for Man at C&A; as fresh and locally sourced as the food is the fashion") I'd give up the day job now before you inflict cerebral injury on anyone else.

Partway up King's Boulevard is a giant Underground roundel, marking the spot where yet another entrance to King's Cross St Pancras tube station will one day open. Presumably this is so that offices built hereabouts can charge higher rents because they have convenient adjacent access to a key transport portal. In reality, however, this entrance will be at least two subterranean minutes from the new Northern Ticket Hall, which itself is at least three subterranean minutes from any train, probably more. It beggars belief how far tube travellers are asked to walk at KXStP, and the new Pancras Square entrance will make things even more cruelly worse.

More tempting, from Wednesdays to Fridays only, a new-wave street food zone pops up in front of the mural by the traffic lights. If you're not familiar with such kerbside-stall delicacies, we're talking stuff like burritos, noodles and pulled pork - nothing mundane and British. Friday's line-up included Big Apple Hot Dogs (who come from Old Street, but pretend not to) and Hardcore Prawn (who deal in Asian fusion, obviously). I imagine the lunchtime crowds are mostly arts students and Guardian journalists, both of whom are based nearby, although there's nowhere especially tasteful to sit and eat your purchase, yet, in this windswept building site.

Next up, beyond Goods Way, is a new bridge across the Regent's Canal. This is sorely needed because one of the old warehouses on the opposite bank has opened up as Central St Martin's University of the Arts, and the students and staff need a way in and out. The relocated university is now based in the Granary building, one of several listed buildings on the northern half of the site to survive Argent's blitzkrieg renewal. It looks impressively Victorian on the outside and (once through the entrance lobby, reception and visitor centre) impressively modern on the inside. The architects have tacked the shiny glass onto the old brickwork with panache, in a lofty four-level space of workshops, studios and lecture theatres. Lucky students, so long as they don't mind being surrounded by fenced-off construction for their first year.

Give it time and further historic structures will be opened up - the Coal Drops, the Goods Shed, the Fish and Coal Office - plus a large public space leading down to the canalside. Oh yes, King's Boulevard is only the start, there's an entire new London neighbourhood waiting to spring into life here. Still hard to imagine, while there's only one college and one road, but undoubtedly unstoppable.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream