Old railway tunnel at King's Cross
The ‘Widened Lines’ (or what is left of them) are rail tunnels between St Pancras and Farringdon now used by Thameslink. The tunnels were a joint venture between the Great Northern and Metropolitan Railways and completed in 1866. Historically the lines also linked to King’s Cross mainline station as well as terminating at Moorgate, and serving depots at Farringdon and the Smithfield markets.
This is a view of the old tunnel ramp at Kings’ Cross in its last days before disappearing completely. Trains from Moorgate emerged into the long gone platform 16 (later renumbered 14) at King’s Cross via what was known as the Hotel Curve. By that time just part of the retaining wall leading to the tunnel existed. These pictures were taken in May 2005.
In the foreground is the top of the tunnel.
Attempts have been made to keep any potential urban explorers from crawling through the remaining gap in the tunnel towards the old King’s Cross Midland (now the disused Thameslink) station.
The pictures below are embedded from Flicker and show the same scenes in the 1970s. Both my 2005 and the 1977 view taken by loosegrip99 clearly show the same brickwork above the arch of the tunnel.
A DMU, possibly bound for Welwyn, is seen at Platform 14 having just emerged from the Hotel Curve tunnel sometime in this 1970s view by std70040. On the right can be seen a pair of workmens’ escape arches. The top of one of these (not the same one though) can be seen in the picture I took in 2005. Look at the one showing the tunnel entrance in 1977 – the top most of the penultimate arch next to the tunnel entrance is that shown in my 2005 view.
The last trains ran either in November 1976, or, as some sources say, March 1977. After that all the remaining Widened Lines services – ie those to Bedford – started from St Pancras and became known as the ‘Bedpan Electrics.’ There would be no more Widened Lines services via King’s Cross. It is said the old tunnel was later used for access in order to upgrade the remaining section of widened lines between St Pancras and Farringdon for the introduction of Thameslink in 1988. I assume after the opening of Thameslink the tunnel became totally redundant and was then mostly filled in.
The other direction from Bedford to Moorgate was via the suburban station at York Way. That has also disappeared though some minor traces remain, whilst the tunnel under York Way and the Regent’s Quarter did at one time carry service pipes. To this day it still carries some electricity cables.
The following picture was taken in April 2017 and shows the same location today. Everything has been concreted over. The only indication of any presence of the former Hotel Curve tunnel slope seems to be the two sealed pipes in the foreground. This tunnel is certainly driveable and access is needed to maintain some service pipes.
UPDATE 24 AUGUST 2017:
The renovated access to the widened lines for maintenance work clearly passes beneath the area shown in the picture above before entering the old tunnel bore itself.
As well as being used to upgrade the remaining lines for Thameslink, I had read in an engineering magazine the old King’s Cross tunnel had been used to enable engineering vehicles to access the widened lines for engineering works, and thought this had been a temporary measure. It’s clear this has been made a permanent feature.
A new access tunnel has been built which slopes down into the old section of railway tunnel. This also gives access to the west side of the King’s Cross station throat and in due course will service the basements of the new Google ‘groundscraper’ Headquarters to be built at this location.
The following pictures show the new vehicular passageway that give access to the basement of Google’s offices, as well as King’s Cross station throat and the widened lines themselves.
The new vehicular entrance on Goods Way. The slope down to the station throat and old widened lines is evident.
A side view of the new vehicular access at the point where it gives access to King’s Cross station throat for maintenance work. This picture was taken from a train running into the suburban platforms.
View from King’s Boulevard showing the vehicular access as it gradually drops down to the old widened lines tunnel.
From Goods Way one can see how the entire vehicular access passageway gradually drops until it meets the old railway tunnel portal illustrated in the early part of this article. Google’s new headquarters will be built on top of this roadway.