Mission #17: 'Meet me at St Pancras'
An urban exploration of the Midland Grand
(Photos/words © Paul Holmes, 2006-7)
Strictly speaking of course, it's the Midland Grand.
I'd seen the internals - just the once - years ago. Open House, 1996 I think. The chance to do it again? Hmmmm.... werrrrllll... so, kitted up, me and a friend went for look around. Thankfully she'd been befor - the access was maze like, before we got into the old hotel itself. Then... Kerching!! Jackpot!!
Inside it's odd. But good. Monster plywood protection of all the key features. Staircases, hand rails, even skirting boards and dido rails... all totally boarded so that they don't get damaged during conversion. I've never seen a bit of work quite so caring. Lovely job going on.
First up we go to have a look at the clock tower. After a bit of a ladder-ish climb, we're in. What do you do to take shots of clock face, from the back, when it's backlit? Turn the lights off of course!! Unfortunately I end up having to this twice due to camera issues. And I start thinking... How many times do I turn off the St Pancras clock lights before people start seeing it as a "Sign"
East clock face, from clock tower balcony.
Early on we spot some tell tale signs of security walk arounds. Hmmm. Do they bother? How often do they bother? You never really know. Later we have a close call. The scale of the place means that - to really search it - it would take hours. They don't have hours thankfully, for us at least. After our 'heads down' whilst a torch scans the room we are in, we carry on for little while, before clambering out and saying goodbye.
I have to give a massive thumbs up to the developers. The restoration job looks soooo comprehensive. All the staircases are boarded neatly... so they can be used without risk of wear to the original floor or rails. The total gem, the main staircase, is boarded off as 'emergency exit only'. We even saw bits of random, 'away from centre stage', handrail - dismantled - with every section labelled, so it can be put back in place. Lang O'Rourke... nice work chaps.
Looking west, from the clock tower.
The old baths from the hotel are finally being removed... after 70 years.
Looking up into the loft of the main tower. It's huge. Far bigger than the photo suggests. You could have a party for 500 up here. If it weren't for the ladder access!
Midland Railway weather vane, topping one of the four spires (or turrets?) surrounding the main tower.
All Photos/words © Paul Holmes, 2006-7.