King's Cross Thameslink railway station

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King's Cross Thameslink
King's Cross Thameslink before its closure
PlaceKings Cross
AreaLondon Borough of Camden
Coordinates51°31′51″N 0°07′13″W / 51.5308°N 0.1202°W / 51.5308; -0.1202Coordinates: 51°31′51″N 0°07′13″W / 51.5308°N 0.1202°W / 51.5308; -0.1202
Grid referenceTQ303830
Pre-groupingMetropolitan Railway
Post-groupingNetwork Rail
1863Opened as King's Cross Metropolitan
1940London Underground platforms closed
1979Closed as part of the Great Northern Electrification Project
1983Reopened as King's Cross Midland City
1988Renamed to King's Cross Thameslink
2007Closed permanently
Disused railway stations in the United Kingdom
Closed railway stations in Britain
170433 at Edinburgh Waverley.JPG UK Railways portal

King's Cross Thameslink station is a closed railway station in central London, England. It served the Thameslink route but was replaced by new Thameslink platforms at St Pancras in December 2007. The last operator of the station was First Capital Connect. The site is on Pentonville Road, about 160 yards (150 m) from King's Cross station.

Location and layout[edit]

The station's main entrance was on Pentonville Road to the southeast of the main King's Cross complex.[1] The Thameslink platforms were linked directly by stairs and a tunnel to the Victoria and Piccadilly line platforms at King's Cross St Pancras, and via both sets of platforms to the Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan and Northern lines.

The two platforms at King's Cross Thameslink were lettered rather than numbered, to avoid confusion with the platforms at nearby King's Cross among staff who worked at both stations, which may have been regarded as part of the same station complex. A similar situation exists at Waterloo East station, an annexe of London Waterloo, and the use of platform letters has been continued on the new Thameslink platforms at St Pancras.


Early history[edit]

The area of King's Cross was previously a village known as Battle Bridge which was an ancient crossing of the River Fleet, originally known as Broad Ford, later Bradford Bridge. The river flowed along what is now the west side of Pancras Road until it was rerouted underground in 1825.[2] The name "Battle Bridge" is linked to tradition that this was the site of a major battle between the Romans and the Celtic British Iceni tribe led by Boudica. According to folklore, King's Cross is the site of Boudica's final battle and some sources say she is buried under one of the platforms of London King's Cross mainline station.[3] Platforms 9 and 10 have been suggested as possible sites.[3][4] Boudica's ghost is also reported to haunt passages under the station, around platforms 8–10.[5]

The mainline King's Cross station was built in 1851–52 as the London terminus of the Great Northern Railway (GNR), and was the fifth London terminal to be constructed.[6] It replaced a temporary station next to Maiden Lane (now York Way) that had been quickly constructed with the line's arrival in London in 1850.[7] The station took its name from the King's Cross building, a monument to King George IV that stood in the area and was demolished in 1845.[8] Plans for the station were made in December 1848 under the direction of George Turnbull, resident engineer for constructing the first 20 miles (32 km) of the Great Northern Railway out of London.[9][10] The station, the biggest in England, opened on 14 October 1852.[6] Originally it had one arrival and one departure platform (today's platforms 1 and 8), and the space between was used for carriage sidings.[7] In 1861 the first suburban services began operating to and from King's Cross, initially to the Seven Sisters Road station (which was renamed to Finsbury Park in 1869), and later to Hornsey and beyond.[11]

King's Cross Metropolitan[edit]

A railway station with a train pulled by an early steam engine. Brick walls rise on both sides and a glass roof arches overhead
Interior, 1862
A single-storey building with an arched glass roof
Exterior, 1862

The first underground station at King's Cross was planned in 1851, during construction of the mainline station. The intention was to connect the Great Western Railway (GWR) at Paddington with the Great Northern Railway (GNR) at King's Cross.[12][13] The line was opened as part of the original section of the Metropolitan Railway (MR), which would later become part of the London Underground, on 10 January 1863.[14] King's Cross Metropolitan, the predecessor of King's Cross Thameslink, opened at the same time and was located to the east of the mainline station.[15] Later that year a pair of tunnels, the York Road Curve for southbound trains and the Hotel Curve for northbound trains, were built joining the GNR lines north of King's Cross mainline with the MR line at King's Cross Metropolitan.[16] Services were initially provided by the GWR, but relations between the GWR and the MR became strained and the GWR withdrew from the route in August 1863. The MR was able to continue operating through rolling stock obtained from the GNR, and brought on to the line through the tunnels from King's Cross mainline station.[17] The GNR started routing all its suburban trains through the tunnels to Farringdon Street (now known as Farringdon) station in October. Trains into London stopped at a new platform known as King's Cross York Road to the north east of the mainline station, and again at the Metropolitan station, while trains out of London stopped at the Metropolitan station and then stopped at the mainline station by reversing into a platform after exiting the Hotel Curve.[15]

In 1866 the Snow Hill tunnel was opened, joining the MR at Farringdon Street to the London, Chatham and Dover Railway (LCDR) terminus at Ludgate Hill.[15] This allowed goods and passenger trains to run from the GNR lines through to Herne Hill and beyond.[15] The lines became very congested, leading to the opening of a new pair of lines known as the City Widened Lines, which opened in 1868 and ran alongside the MR tracks from King's Cross Metropolitan through to Moorgate.[18] This allowed GNR and Metropolitan traffic to run along the line simultaneously.[19] The same year the Metropolitan built a rail link to the newly opened St Pancras station,[20] which took some strain off the tunnels to the GNR, as Midland Railway services began to ran through those tunnels.[18] The new Midland tunnels as well as the original York Road and Hotel Curve tunnels from King's Cross mainline station now connected to the City Widened Lines with the connection to the original MR lines removed.[21] The original Metropolitan tracks became part of the inner circle (later known as the Circle line), which ran partly on MR tracks and partly on District Railway tracks. The circle was completed in 1884.[22] Services were provided by both the Metropolitan, which ran the clockwise trains and the District, which ran anticlockwise.[23]

The route through King's Cross Metropolitan remained very busy throughout the remainder of the century, with trains from five companies – the MR, GNR, Midland, LCDR and the South Eastern Railway (SER) – with routes including Victoria to Peterborough as well as services from norther London to Chatham and Dover.[24] There was even a service operating from Liverpool to Paris via the Widened Lines, departing at 08:00 and arriving in Paris by 22:50, having travelled by across the English Channel in a paddle steamer.[25] Trains continued to ascend up the Hotel Curve from the Metropolitan station and then reverse into the mainline station until 1878, when a new platform was built on the western side of the GNR tracks. This became known as the King's Cross Suburban station, but suffered from several problems including a steep incline and sharp curve as well as a build-up of smoke due to being close to the mouth of the tunnel.[26] There was some alleviation of the congestion when a connection between Finsbury Park and Canonbury allowed trains of the North London railway to take some of the traffic from the GNR lines into Broad Street station in the City of London rather than down the Metropolitan line.[27] In 1892 the station was linked to the concourse of the mainline station by a foot tunnel.[28]

A major change occurred at the beginning of the twentieth century with the arrival of the deep-level tube lines. The Great Northern, Piccadilly & Brompton Railway, later known as the Piccadilly line, opened a station serving King's Cross and St Pancras in 1906, and the City & South London Railway, now part of the Northern line, opened in 1907.[29] The tube platforms were linked to King's Cross Metropolitan through the same foot tunnel which linked it to the mainline, making one station complex.[28] The new lines, as well as the growth of trams on the surface streets, led to a sharp reduction of services on the City Widened Lines.[16] The SER, LCDR, and GNR services were withdrawn in 1907, and the Midland and LC&DR joint service in June 1908.[30] The decreased passenger service allowed an increase in freight traffic through the station. During World War I the line was used heavily for freight and troop movements with 250,000 tons of freight and 26,047 special troop trains passing through. Passenger service was reduced to just four hours per day during morning and evening peak hours from 1915.[16] The Snow Hill tunnel closed to passenger service during the war, and the north–south link was used only by freight in the postwar years.[31] Service on the Circle and Metropolitan line tracks increased over subsequent years, however, following electrification of those tracks in 1905–06.[32]

Relocation of the Metropolitan platforms and electrification[edit]

The infrastructure around King's Cross was bombed by Germany in 1940 during The Blitz, part of World War II warfare. The Circle line between Euston Square and King's Cross was particularly badly damaged and services stopped completely for five months.[33] When the line reopened in March 1941 a new pair of platforms were opened to the west, making use of abandoned tunnels from the 1860s and providing a shorter connection to the Piccadilly and Northern lines.[16] This scheme, part of what is now Kings Cross St Pancras tube station, had been planned by the MR since 1935.[34] The original platforms were abandoned but were still in place and visible from passing trains in 2018.[16] Services continued to use the City Widened Lines platforms of the original station from the GNR route (now known as the East Coast Mainline) until 1976, and from the Midland Mainline until 1979.[16] The Snow Hill tunnel, which had seen no passenger services since World War I, closed completely in the 1970s with the withdrawal of freight services.[31]

The station was closed, along with the City Widened Lines, in the mid-1970s to allow for an electrification project known as the Midland City line, which was completed in May 1982. The tracks were lowered to allow for overhead power cables to be installed and several bridges were remodelled. Despite completion of the line and availability of rolling stock by early 1983, the opening of the line was delayed over a dispute with the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) union regarding driver-only operation on the new electric trains.[35] The station eventually reopened later in 1983, with thew new name of King's Cross Midland City. Trains ran between Bedford and Moorgate, via St Pancras and the tunnels from the Midland mainline to the City Widened Lines.[36]


In 1988 Network SouthEast, one of the newly created sectors of the state-owned British Rail,[37] implemented a scheme first proposed in the 1960s to reopen the Snow Hill tunnel to passenger traffic.[31] The project, and the new north–south connection created, was called Thameslink. Trains ran between Bedford and Brighton using Class 319 dual-voltage trains which could run on both the Midland Mainline's overhead AC system and the Brighton Mainline's third-rail system.[37] Five years after its previous rename, the station at King's Cross was once again renamed, this time to King's Cross Thameslink.[16]


The station was replaced in 2007 because of substandard platform widths and lengths, lack of step-free access, lack of easily accessible fire escape routes, and a poor-quality passenger environment.[38] The cost of upgrading the station to modern standards would have been in excess of £60 million.[39] It would also have caused serious disruption to the nearby Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan Underground lines and to nearby roads.[40]

In February 2006, the government announced additional funding of £63 million so that work to complete a new Thameslink station at St Pancras could start that summer. The last train, the 23:59 from Haywards Heath, called at Kings Cross Thameslink at 01:08 on Sunday 9 December 2007.[41] From 9 December 2007, Thameslink services started to call at new platforms built beneath the main station complex at St Pancras.[42] These are able to handle 12-car trains and will have sufficient capacity to serve the Thameslink Programme route (upgraded from the original Thameslink network). They also have better pedestrian links to the main line platforms at both St Pancras and King's Cross.

The foot tunnel from King's Cross St Pancras tube station to the ticket office of the former Thameslink station remains open from 07:00 to 20:00 on Mondays to Fridays, to provide extra access to London Underground platforms from Pentonville Road.[43]



  1. ^ "Station Facilities: King's Cross Thameslink". National Rail. Archived from the original on 8 April 2008.
  2. ^ Walter H Godfrey; W McB. Marcham, eds. (1952). Battle Bridge Estate. Survey of London. 24, the Parish of St Pancras Part 4: King's Cross Neighbourhood. London. pp. 102–113. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Dig uncovers Boudicca's brutal streak". The Observer. 3 December 2000. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  4. ^ "Historical Notes: Boadicea's bones under Platform 10". The Independent. 14 July 1999. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  5. ^ Johnson, Marguerite (2012). Boudicca. A&C Black. ISBN 978-1-853-99732-7.
  6. ^ a b Weinreb et al. 2010, p. 463.
  7. ^ a b Jackson 1984, p. 76.
  8. ^ Thornbury, Walter (1878). "Highbury, Upper Holloway and King's Cross". Old and New London. London. 2: 273–279. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  9. ^ Diaries of George Turnbull (Chief Engineer, East Indian Railway Company) held at the Centre of South Asian Studies at Cambridge University, England.
  10. ^ Page 87 of George Turnbull, C.E. 437-page memoirs published privately 1893, scanned copy held in the British Library, London on compact disk since 2007.
  11. ^ Nock 1974, pp. 63–64.
  12. ^ Day & Reed 2010, p. 9.
  13. ^ Wolmar 2012, p. 30.
  14. ^ Day & Reed 2010, p. 14.
  15. ^ a b c d Jackson 1984, p. 70.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g Phil Haigh (19 October 2018). "Widening the horizons..." Rail Magazine.
  17. ^ Thomas 1971, pp. 82–83.
  18. ^ a b Jackson 1984, p. 71.
  19. ^ Day & Reed 2010, pp. 16–17.
  20. ^ Wolmar 2012, p. 62.
  21. ^ Nock 1974, p. 70.
  22. ^ Simpson, Bill (2003). A History of the Metropolitan Railway. Volume 1: The Circle and Extended Lines to Rickmansworth. Lamplight Publications. pp. 23–24. ISBN 1-899246-07-X.
  23. ^ Bruce, J Graeme (1983). Steam to Silver. A history of London Transport Surface Rolling Stock. Capital Transport. p. 11. ISBN 0-904711-45-5.
  24. ^ Nock 1974, pp. 72–73.
  25. ^ Martin, Andrew (2013). Underground Overground: A Passenger's History of the Tube. London: Profile Books. p.56. ISBN 978-1846684784.
  26. ^ Jackson 1984, p. 72.
  27. ^ Jackson 1984, p. 73.
  28. ^ a b Jackson 1984, p. 78.
  29. ^ Day & Reed 2010, p. 47.
  30. ^ Jackson 1986, p. 50.
  31. ^ a b c Russell Haywood (2016). Railways, Urban Development and Town Planning in Britain: 1948–2008. Routledge.
  32. ^ Thomas 1971, pp. 93–94.
  33. ^ London Passenger Transport Board (1945). Twelfth annual report and statement of accounts. p. 14.
  34. ^ "King's Cross Thameslink". Disused Stations. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  35. ^ Trevor Skeet (21 February 1983). "Bedford-St. Pancras Railway Line (Electrification)". House of Commons adjournment debate.
  36. ^ John Christopher (2012). Kings Cross Station Through Time. Amberley Publishing Limited. p. 171.
  37. ^ a b Rail Magazine (3 June 2017). "Thameslink's road to fruition".
  38. ^ Network Rail (2005a) - pg.20, paragraph 5.4.1
  39. ^ Network Rail (2005a) - pg.20, paragraph 5.4.2
  40. ^ "St Pancras International". First Capital Connect. Archived from the original on 17 May 2007.
  41. ^ Clark, Emma (10 December 2007). "New station sets the standard". Watford Observer. Archived from the original on 24 February 2012.
  42. ^ "King's Cross & St Pancras Upgrade". Archived from the original on 3 April 2004.


  • Day, John R; Reed, John (2010) [1963]. The Story of London's Underground. Capital Transport. ISBN 9781854143419.
  • Jackson, Alan (1984) [1969]. London's Termini. David & Charles. ISBN 0330027476.
  • Jackson, Alan (1986). London's Metropolitan Railway. David & Charles. ISBN 0715388398.
  • Nock, Oswald Stevens (1974) [1958]. The Great Northern Railway. ISBN 9780711004948.
  • Thomas, David St. John (1971). A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain: Greater London. David and Charles. ISBN 9780715353370.
  • Weinreb, Ben; Hibbert, Christopher; Keay, Julia; Keay, John (2010). The London Encyclopedia. Pan MacMillan. ISBN 9781405049245.
  • Wolmar, Christian (2012) [2004]. The Subterranean Railway. Atlantic Books. ISBN 9780857890696.

External links[edit]

Preceding station   Disused railways   Following station
Line and station open
  First Capital Connect
  Kentish Town
Line and station open
  Historical railways  
Line and station open
  BR (Eastern Region)
Great Northern Line down services
  King's Cross Suburban
Line closed, station open
  BR (Eastern Region)
Great Northern Line up services
  King's Cross York Road
Line and station closed