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A Quiet Revolution?

There’s a quiet revolution going on – and I don’t mean the launch of the Canal & River Trust today (though GOOD LUCK to that) no, I’m talking about the regeneration of a huge area of Central London around Kings Cross; and the Regents Canal that runs through the heart of the site.

I’ve read little about it in the waterways press, and yet a huge renovation, restoration and regeneration project is going on…

Last weekend the boys and I went to have a look for ourselves. And found a visually exciting wonderland of development and huge construction works going on around the stations in an area dubbed Kings Cross Central. There’s a phoenix rising out of the ashes of what had become pretty much a no-go area around St. Pancras and Kings Cross stations.

Regrettably a number of gorgeous Victorian buildings, and a number of the archetypal gasometers, seem to have been destroyed; whilst other structures have been more fortunate and are in the process of being fully restored. The huge warehouse on the new Granary Square being one example.

I’m not sure they quite knew what to do with the canal.

They have added viewing steps at Granary Square, and an awful lot of engineering brick and concrete to ‘harden up’ the towpath opposite the Camley Street Nature Reserve . It’s wonderful to see that this oasis of a nature reserve is thriving, and is an integral green-space included in the masterplan for the regeneration. I wonder if the canal will become the much-loved heart of Kings Cross Central?

Here’s a few photos from our morning’s exploration – the area really is worth a visit.

This image shows the enormity of the site between the Victorian Gothic splendour of St. Pancras and Kings Cross station. The canal runs across the centre of the picture east to west in front of the imposing Granary Building, the old Potato Market behind it has been transformed into the University of the Arts!?!
‘The boys’ giving the site the once over!
And this, frighteningly, is what’s proposed, a bit of New York off the old York…
Here’s the Regent Canal up close, with the odd non-traditional floating concept office in the bottom right-hand corner – is this the shape of things to come?
Cranes across the skyline hint at the scale of development going on, Goodsway Basin is relatively unscathed as yet… remarkably the main line from Kings Cross passes a few metres BELOW the basin…
Joe and Fin enjoying the odd ‘swing sculpture’ adjacent to the canal, the white frame and swing are periodically lifted into the air by the nearest available crane, with the artist seated and swinging high above the ground!?!
The towpath regeneration in concrete and brick still looks a little austere and ‘hard’ at the moment, hopefully it’ll soften a little with sympathetic planting and the animation of lots of visitors to the area?
Regent’s Canal or the edge of the Seine? The viewing steps from Granary Square to the canal…
Grebe and wide beam boat. A peaceful moment in an oterwise dynamic environment…
Another view of the canal looking towards Camley Street, around the corner behind the canalside warehouse is St. Pancas Lock and the SPCC marina…
An artists impression of canal, new buildings and regenerated warehouses…
We like it here, we’ll come again soon!

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