3d pan white

"Gaping to devour incoming engines..."

A monochrome variation on the theme of...




...taken at St Pancras International Station, London, England, of the statue of British Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman underneath the towering and almost overpowering 1868 canopy designed by William Henry Barlow.


The train shed roof was the largest single-span structure built up to that time, and earned St Pancras the title of one of the most spectacular stations in the world, often referred to as 'the cathedral of the railways.' Martin Jennings' larger-than-life bronze statue of Sir John Betjeman - my second favourite English poet - celebrates the fact that, without Betjeman, St Pancras as it is now would probably not exist. In 1967, when London seemed Hell-bent on modernising itself with concrete and characterlessness at the expense of its historic past - especially if that past was Victorian - this station was just 10 days away from demolition. A high profile campaign, spearheaded by Sir John (who wrote at the time of St Pancras' 'great arc of Barlow's train shed gaping to devour incoming engines, and the sudden burst of exuberant Gothic'), managed to save it, and turn the tide against London's wholesale destruction of its Victoriana.


One hundred foot high, and with 18,000 panes of glass in it, the roof is now the centrepiece of the restored structure, already being referred to as the most magnificent railway station in the world, although it is slightly less spectacular by non-illuminated day, hence my decision to go black and white for this shot. Nevertheless, it's still one of the most wonderful and awe-inspiring structures of both old and new London.


Taken in London, England on March 2, 2008.


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Taken on March 2, 2008