18th May 2021· The Great Northern Railway and Kings Cross Station.

Presenter: Raymond Schofield

Our speaker this evening introduced his talk as one he had prepared for the 175th anniversary of the railway reaching London from York and the inaugural run of Mallard in preservation. Raymond then gave a history of the Great Northern Railway and its predecessors. The original Kings Cross station was built between 1851 and 1852 by the Great Northern Railway, it replaced a temporary station next to Maidens Lane. Constructed on the site of a smallpox hospital. When it was originally built it had one arrival and one departure platforms, todays 1 and 8. The platforms have been reconfigured several times. In 1972 they were numbered 1 to 8. In 2010 the station was reconfigured once again and it then had 12 platforms, numbered 0 to 11. At the current time Kings Cross is again being reconfigured to enhance traffic at the arrival and departure throats to the platforms. This work included the reopening of a third tunnel. As well as the main line platforms there are 3 platforms (No’s 9,10 and 11) which is a suburban station.

“Top Shed” 34A had allocated to it a variety of locomotives, Gresley A4 Pacific’s, Flying Scotsman in particular, several photographs were shown of these engines both on shed and at the platforms of the station. In 1948 it was used for the engine trails to compare the various types of locomotive from the four groupings.

Raymond then took us on a journey northbound out of Kings Cross. Passing through the Belle Isle area, in his words a “very unsavoury area”, through the Copenhagen Tunnel to Finsbury Park (originally Seven Sisters). After 5 miles Hornsey station which opened in 1850 and had the distinction of being the last loco shed to be built by the company which served as an overflow shed for Kings Cross. Hatfield was next on the itinery a suburban shed 34C. Then onwards to the Digswell Viaduct, north of Welling Garden City, carrying the railway over the River Mimram, opened in 1850 by Queen Victoria. Hitchin where the railway served the Barrington Cement Works. The journey continued to Sandy, Huntingdon and to Peterborough. At Peterborough, a large loco shed was built, “New England”, the second largest on the Great Northern system.

The Lincoln loop was included in the talk, describing the need for this section – Spalding – Boston – Gainsborough – Lincoln – Retford and the railway to Louth and to Grimsby, the Great Northern finishing just south of Grimsby. The main line at Grantham marked the halfway point of the journey from London to York.

Raymond concluded his talk with various photographs of locations such as Nottingham Central and London Road stations, Lincoln station, the flat crossing at Newark, Leeds Central (no longer exists), Wakefield Westgate, and Bradford Adolphus station and Exchange station.

The audience of some 86 were entertained to an interesting and informative evening. Judging from the comments both verbally and in the chat box the audience had a great evening. A large thankyou to Raymond from the Thames Valley Branch.