King’s Cross / St. Pancras Conservation Area

From Camden’s Conservation Area Statement 22 – King’s Cross:

4.2.62 (see image above) The grade II listed German Gymnasium (1864-5) to the south of Stanley Buildings. Built at the same time as Stanley Buildings (1864), it was a unique, purpose-built gym for the German Gymnastic Society and designed by Edward Grüning. The gym is of great historic and aesthetic importance. It was part of the movement towards the establishment of the Olympic Games and was important in the development of public sport and fitness. Its style is a Prussian neo-medieval vernacular. It has rare surviving laminated timber roof ribs of a type originally used in King’s Cross station. Whilst the former entrance to this building from the original alignment of Pancras Road has been demolished as part of the CTRL works, this two and a half storey multi-coloured stock brick building is not diminished by the loss of the immediate urban fabric. Its southern façade is sufficiently imposing to enable the building to sit successfully against the backdrop of the station extension. Its new west wall, created by the demolition of the western part of the structure, has been rebuilt to form an external wall, in keeping with the other elevations. The gym has been exposed to views from the south, due to the removal of an adjacent warehouse.

Die Turnhalle: Britain’s first gymnasium

4.2.85 Two shortened blocks of the grade II listed Stanley Buildings (1864-5) remain in the area between the realigned Pancras Road and the station extension. Originally there were five blocks, built as philanthropic housing for workers, by the Improved Industrial Dwellings Co Ltd (builder Matthew Allen). The north and south facing blocks face Stanley and Clarence passages respectively, both of which have been truncated by the CTRL works.

They are walk-up blocks with open central spiral staircase with balcony access. The blocks of flats are five storeys in height and have recessed balconies supported by cast-iron columns and enclosed by railings in a lattice pattern. Each balcony opening is flanked by pilasters, which are decorated with an oval emblem and Ionic scrolls. The ground floor level has a painted stucco finish. They have an early example of fireproof floor construction.

The CTRL works involved the demolition of the westerly block, second world war bomb damage destroyed one block and another had been lost to road widening. Therefore, their architectural integrity has been compromised.”

From the Historic England entry:

“Philanthropic flats. 1865. By Matthew Allen for the Improved Industrial Dwellings Company under the guidance of Sydney Waterlow. Materials and treatment of architectural elements, identical to flats 1-20 in Stanley Passage to the north (now demolished) with which this block formed a group. 5 storeys. One window to end ranges flanking 2-bay balcony-stair recess; balconies enclosed by cast-iron lattice railings and supported by cast-iron columns and lintels. 2-window range to right return with segmental-arched windows, the lintels cast from concrete and panelled. Left-return rendered to all but top storey. Ablution and scullery towers to rear.

Among the earliest blocks built by Waterlow’s influential and prolific IIDC, Stanley Buildings are in addition an important part of a dramatic Victorian industrial landscape.”

From kingscross.co.uk:

“The Stanley Buildings were built in 1864-65 by the Improved Industrial Dwellings Company to provide a higher standard of accommodation for King’s Cross workers. There were originally four flats per floor, later converted to two.

Flat roofs were provided for clothes drying and children’s play areas. The flats were unusual in that they provided completely self contained accommodation.

There were originally 5 blocks housing 104 families. Today only one remains. The building is an early example of the use of concrete in construction – used because it was cheaper and reduced the risk of fire.

The remaining Stanley building has been restored and the structure updated with a modern addition. It provides serviced offices and meeting rooms by The Office Group.”

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