Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Railway Echo No 10

Slowing up into St.Pancras station yesterday morning, I looked beyond the passengers gathering-up coats, lap-tops and Metro newspapers to see this water tower on the skyline. I took time to walk round into Goods Way and onto the Regents Park Canal. Sliding along the icy towpath past the old boarded-up Fish and Coal Depot I found this view of my quarry across the frozen water. Built in 1867 it echoes St. Pancras in so many ways. The Gothic blind-arcaded tower is in red Nottingham brick with Ancaster stone detailing, and it supports an iron tank encased in pillared masonry. The big chimney tells of the massive stove they must have got going in winter months to stop the water freezing. Towers like this were obviously essential in the days of steam locomotives, particularly at a big terminus like St.Pancras that not only had busy arrivals and departures at the passenger platforms, but also continuous workings in the goods yards. In 1998 there was talk of relocating the tower, due to the impending construction of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, so I'm unsure if this is the original location or not. There is so much to appreciate here, and I shall doubtless blog more about it later, but all these evocative remains are evidence that the Victorian era was like an enormous shout that still sends its echo down to us to wherever we look.
Footnote: Subsequent foragings have revealed that the 'water point', as I should have called it, has indeed been moved. 700 yards from its original position.


Philip Wilkinson said...

Great photograph. You've caught the glow of the brick, as usual. It strikes me that these richly decorated and finely finished Victorian towers speak of an age when water was properly valued. Spending just a couple of weeks without running water during the Gloucestershire floods of 2007 reminded me just how precious this resource is, a fact that will, I think, become more apparent to us in the coming years.

Vinogirl said...

I fear you are correct Mr. Wilkinson.
Whilst people think oil is the problem, the real commodity of the future will be water.
And unfortunately it takes a lot of H2O to make wine.

Diplomat said...

funny that - i thought it looked out of place

Ron Combo said...

Water point? Sounds a bit NuLabor to me.