When I first moved to London, King’s Cross was a huge, echoing shed of a building. It was always freezing cold and full of people with huge suitcases huddling in front of the departures board. There were about 5 seats in the whole station, and nowhere to get a nice sandwich.
I remember arriving there from Edinburgh on the day we moved, and thinking I would never really be at home in London. It was just too big and impersonal and full of people.
Luckily things have changed since then. I’ve lived here for more than five years. London no longer feels scary and unwelcoming. And King’s Cross looks pretty different too. They’ve finally knocked down the 70s green shed out the front, and built a whole new side entrance with an awesome twisty roof. There are many places to get a tasty sandwich, and even a huge pub in the old sorting office, possibly the only nice railway station pub in the whole of the UK.
A couple of weeks ago, they had a Victorian themed opening weekend to celebrate. I went down with Alex to have a look, as I am a big fan of fake Victorianism (although I draw the line at steampunk).
The main event was in Granary Square, where the new Central St Martins campus is, just behind the station. It was all dressed up with Victorian-esque stalls:
There were many out-of-work actors running around in bustles and tophats, having a fine old time shouting to each other in their best faux-Cockney accents, and accosting passers-by with hearty Dickensian banter.
The lady in the photo below was selling chilli jam from her cart, which doesn’t seem particularly 19th century to me, although I could be wrong (I usually am).
Behind her you can see a big fake chimney they set up, which small children could go and pretend to sweep.
We even won a coconut on the coconut shy (okay, Alex won a coconut. I failed miserably).
You could also have a go on a penny farthing. Those things are ridiculously hard to cycle, even at half-size.
I don’t know who paid for all this, but it was completely free, including the best bit – ye old Victorian Photoshoppe.
This was a tent containing a selection of costumes (all from Angels) and a man taking photos with a Nikon cunningly disguised as an old-skool camera. You could go into the tent, get dressed up, have your picture taken, and end up with a print of your Victorian self to take home.
Obviously we queued up for this. The man told us to ‘look deadpan’ and then made me hold an egg, and Alex hold a tiny taxidermied mouse. Why? Not sure. But here’s the resulting photo.
I think it’s one for the album. I also have a sudden urge to make myself a corset and bonnet.