King’s Cross Station has been a London icon and major transport hub since it opened in 1852. The area has recently been renovated and now the beautiful Victorian façade of the station stands in a vibrant commercial and touristic area. But it’s not just a place to pass through as you travel from hotels near Heathrow to central London; King’s Cross has a history and mystery all its own. Here are ten fascinating facts and figures about Kings Cross Station grand dame of London’s history.
- The land where King’s Cross stands originally cost just £65,000. By contrast, its recent refurbishment cost one thousand times that at an estimated £650 million! The new station sees over 50 million passengers every year over its 11 platforms.
- Smoking was once allowed on the London Underground, but the tragedy that led to its banning by TFL occurred right here at King’s Cross St Pancras. A careless commuter left a match smouldering underneath an escalator, where it started a fire that quickly spread. 31 people were killed and 100 injured; a sobering reminder that underground is not always the safest place to be.
- On a lighter note, King’s Cross St Pancras is the most well-connected Underground stations in the network, served by the Northern, Piccadilly, Victoria, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan and Circle lines – six in all.
- The Underground station also has the shortest lift on the Underground network, at 2.3 metres.
- You can now play Snake with the fountains round the back of the station in Granary Square! Download the Granary Squirt app onto your phone and you can control the direction of the jets, which are lit up with different colours so you know which snake is yours as well as giving you obstacles to navigate around. Endless fun!
- King’s Cross was famously a major setting in the much-beloved Harry Potter books. But author JK Rowling wasn’t paying attention when she wrote about her characters running through the barrier between platforms 9 and 10 – there isn’t one! She was thinking of Euston Station instead. When the film adaptations were made, they used platforms 4 and 5 as a stand-in, and a luggage trolley is half-embedded into one of the station’s walls with a Platform 9 ¾ sign above it so you can take Potter-themed holiday snaps.
- Another sobering fact: King’s Cross is one of the most popular locations for “Tube suicides”, along with Victoria Station.
- King’s Cross is home to the only Platform 0 in London
- The station once handled freight as well as people, with its own enormous goods yard which handled approximately one million tons of cargo. Nowadays it only sees passenger trains – and a good thing too, since it’s already so crowded with people that there’s nowhere to fit a single cargo truck.
- For extra pop-culture credit, King’s Cross is also the setting for popular 1950s comedy The Lady killers, starring Alec Guinness. A band of crooks rent lodgings in a house that just happens to be located on top of a disused tunnel leading into the station. The gang try desperately to keep their landlady in the dark, so to speak, before their ultimate downfall – as befits a gang of crooks in a comedy.
- Virgin Trains is one of the major rail operators running services out of King’s Cross. They estimate that a full 60% of their trains on the East Coast service either leave from or arrive at King’s Cross.
As one of the most accessible stations and certainly one of the most beautiful, with its ornate façade and soaring white-pillared ceiling, King’s Cross features in every visitor’s itinerary sooner or later. It’s also the terminus for the Heathrow Express, a high-speed rail connection to Heathrow Airport that dramatically cuts down on travel time between hotels near Heathrow and the delights of central London.
People Frequently asked for…
How busy is London King’s Cross?
London King’s Cross is the 9th-busiest railway station in Great Britain by annual entries/exits (33.816 million)
What line is Kings Cross station on?
King’s Cross St Pancras Underground station links six London Underground lines
- Hammersmith & City
- Euston – 2 mins
- Oxford Circus – 5 mins
- Liverpool St – 8 mins
- Bank – 9 mins
- Victoria – 9 mins
- Charing Cross – 12 mins
- Paddington – 13 mins
- Waterloo – 15 mins
- Canary Wharf – 22 mins
Is there luggage storage at Kings Cross Station?
There is access of self-storage, opposite Kings Cross station has short-term storage
Where did they film Platform 9 ¾?
Platform 9 3/4 was filmed at King’s Cross station in London on platforms 4 and 5. The beautiful exterior shots were of St Pancras Station and the bridge which Harry and Hagrid walk over at Kings Cross was actually shot in York train station.
What tube station is Kings Cross?
King’s Cross St Pancras Underground station links six London Underground lines – Circle, Piccadilly, Hammersmith & City, Northern, Metropolitan and Victoria. This makes it the biggest interchange on the London Underground, and one of the busiest.