The article “St Pancras International: Here’s one they made earlier,” published on the BBC website in 2007, is a feature piece looking at how the unlikely location of the railway station became one of its defining features. The article also looks at the engineers behind the station and the work of Sir George Gilbert Scott who designed the hotel.

The Midland Railway

Midland Railway paid £20,000 to operate a new train route which was approved by Parliament to ease congestion. The new route required a new station, St Pancras railway station, but the site chosen was a mess. Old buildings had to be demolished and the earth had to be moved. To top that off, the director’s wanted the station to have a hotel.

George Gilbert Scott won the competition to design the hotel at the front of the station. His submission was the most expensive of them all, but it was also the grandest, which the Midland Railway directors liked.

Spiralling costs

As the BBC’s article explains, the hotel’s construction costs quickly escalated. The original cost of the hotel was set at £315,000, but the final bill was £438,000. Visitors today can see obvious signs of budget cuts – empty plinths where statues were supposed to be.

Regardless of its budgetary constraints, the Midland Grand Hotel still launched as one of London’s premier hotels and it completed the railway station, making it the grandest in the country. The first paying guests checked into the hotel on 5th May 1873.

You can find out more about the history of St Pancras International, and the efforts made to build it, on the BBC.