Miniview: The Midland Grand becomes Marriott’s St. Pancras Renaissance

    150 150 Daniel Fountain
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    In government hands for years, the Midland Grand slid from being one of the great hotels of London into decay. A glorious castle proudly announcing the great railway terminus behind it, the turrets and gothic columns dominate this part of the Euston Road, making the great train shed of Kings Cross look humble alongside. Alongside other great railway hotels (see Andaz, the Queens in Leeds, the Royal in Hull and yes, even the Mohonk nr Poughkeepsie in New York State) this was not just an hotel but an icon of an age. Along with other great railway hotels, it has now been rejuvenated, to finally to serve once more as great hotel.Recommended for demolition in the 1960’s after Government agency British Rail let it slide into decay, the exterior still carries the stains of history. Spang marks can still be seen on the stonework, although the destruction caused by the bombing of WW2 has been long since repaired. A campaign in which poet John Betjeman, a railway enthusiast, played a large part was responsible for saving the building from the wreckers. It is fitting then that a modest statue of the poet is on the railway concourse just outside the hotel. The campaign was also a contributor to the founding of the Victorian Society, now a leading conservation group.

    Despite my reservations over the treatment of the outside, the treatment of the interiors deserves a great hallelujah of delight. Interior designers and architects, developer and hotelier all seem to have shared a common pleasure in the restoration of interiors that the neglect of British Rail probably did a great deal to save – after all a more active owner would probably have remodelled the interior and in the process destroyed many of the finishes now kept.

    Daniel Fountain / 19.03.2011

    Editor, Hotel Designs


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