“Despite St Pancras’s unfinished state, the Midland opted to open it on 1 October 1868.”*

*From: Cathedrals of Steam (2020), by Christian Wolmar:

“…There is the neo-Gothic frontage, including the George Gilbert Scott-designed hotel and clock tower, and the train shed, an engineering tour de force, which is the work of William Barlow, the Midland Railway’s chief engineer, supported by Rowland Mason Ordish, the structural engineer…

…Little work was undertaken on the station buildings before
the shed behind St Pancras was completed. Major construction,
delayed by the financial crisis of 1866, finally started in April 1867,
but progress was fitful. There were a series of disputes between Scott and the Midland when the company wanted to pare back some aspects of the design. Mostly they were minor cuts (it is evident today, for instance, that the niches along the front of the building were designed to take figures that never materialized) and, aside from some furnishings, Scott mostly got his way. Again, as with the shed, there was a lot of attention to the source of materials. The glowing red bricks were from Nottingham and laid with consummate skill while, as described in Gordon Biddle’s seminal work on railway architecture, ‘the lavish dressings, replete with every kind of adornment, are in different shades of Ancaster and Ketton limestone, red sandstone from Mansfield and grey and red polished granite from Petershead for the shafts and columns.

With costs mounting, the directors sought further cutbacks
and attempted to delay completion of the hotel, leaving the west tower unbuilt. Without it the building would have been lop-sided,
according to Biddle, who wrote that it forms the dominant feature
of the façade, complemented at the east end by the tall, steepled
clock tower’.”

“Outside the station the clock tower on the Midland Grand Hotel has a clock on each elevation while inside the station a massive clock was displayed at the south end of the trainshed. At 16ft 9ins (5.15m) diameter it was said to be the largest clock at any railway station in England, with the length of hour hand being 4ft 5ins and that of the minute hand 7ft 3ins (Williams F.S 1877:348). The clock dial was made of slate. (All the clocks at St Pancras were constructed by Mr John Walker of Cornhill, London.) This splendid clock remained in place for nearly 100 years…the pieces from Roland (Hoggard)’s barn however yet again provided a template for a new clock to be built – this time using materials similar to the original – metal plate, slate diamond shaped hour markers and roman numerals. The third St Pancras clock was made by Dent with Smith of Derby – both companies with long histories of clock making. Dent were an important player in Victorian clock making history – they made the standard clock at the Royal Observatory Greenwich as well as Big Ben – and Smith of Derby were established in 1856 and supplied the Midland Railway Company.” StPancras.com
“Facilities more closely associated with running a railway may
have taken second place but had not been entirely forgotten. The
spacious booking hall off the main concourse was another example
of extravagance with an extremely high, arched roof that could have
passed off as a nave in a sizeable church. The wood-panelled ticket
office in one corner almost seemed like an afterthought, such was
the scale of the room, which received natural light from six pointed
arch windows. Passengers waiting to buy tickets could amuse
themselves by trying to guess which of the whimsical figures of
various key rail workers on the stone brackets was the driver, guard, pointsman or signalbox boy they were supposed to represent. From
this hall, several doorways led to the roof-enclosed concourse.” Wolmar
“in the figure of James Allport, the Midland had both
a commercial genius with great business acumen and someone with
a thorough understanding of engineering. It was a combination
that proved vital over the next few years. The son of a Birmingham
small arms manufacturer, Allport had worked in the railways for
thirty years but was still under sixty and had a youthful exuberance
for innovation…Throughout the building process, Allport
insisted on only the best materials being used, something that has
subsequently contributed to the building’s resilience. Stone was
either Derbyshire gritstone or Bramley Fall stone from Yorkshire,
the same quarry that was used for the Euston Arch. Slate was
sourced from Wales, and Derbyshire iron was used for the wrought
ironwork.” Wolmar

From Wikipedia:

“(Allport) was a director of the Midland from 1854 to 1857, but returned to being the general manager. When he retired in 1880 he was given an honorary directorship, and was knighted in 1884.

Allport was sponsor of an Act of Parliament in 1883 to install a network of high-pressure cast iron water mains under London. It merged two of Edward B. Ellington’s companies to form the London Hydraulic Power Company, which eventually powered machinery in docks and buildings across large areas of central London.

Allport died at the Midland Grand Hotel, St. Pancras, on 25 April 1892, from acute inflammation of the lungs, the result of a chill. His funeral at Belper Cemetery took place on 29 April 1892.”

(From Pancras Road) “As for the exterior, a contemporary edition
of Building News provides the best description, and attempted
to set out Scott’s thinking in designing the façade according to a
classical hierarchy of decorative features, rather than just providing
a mish-mash of random detail: ‘We find the simple semi-circular
massive ground-floor windows, the ornate, trefoiled, traceried, and
cusped first-floor windows, and the two upper tiers of less detail as
they are removed from the eye, each designed with reference to their
position, instead of, as too often seen, the most elaborate multiplicity
placed so far above the eye as to be thrown away.” Wolmar

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