Euston Road, 2011, Marek Emczek Olszewkski, Marek Emczek Olszewkski.


Euston
@www.ravishlondon.com
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#euston

Introduction
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#introduction

Euston is not a community, it has no clear boundary, and no-one would say "I live in Euston". It is instead a transport hub, where a triumvirate of tube lines, train tracks and Euston Road meet. Euston is a centrifugal force, a portal in the transport matrix, which sucks you up and propels you onwards and outwards. The transport links take you places faster, and bring places closer to Euston. Euston then is a natural spot to place major institutions with users from all over the country, such as the British Library, the Wellcome Museum, Unison, the soon to be built Sir Francis Crick Institute and three important train stations in Euston, Kings Cross and St Pancras International; as well as the headquarters for Unison, the Quakers and Abbey National. These institutions are like a collective of conductors, tall and erect, oblivious to the polluted sediment being secreted on their overcoats, orchestrating human activity up and down the country.


St Pancras International train station and Kings Cross train station on Euston Road, 2008, Ravish London



View Euston in a larger map


Euston Estate Agents
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#eustonestateagents

Estate agents in Euston include Faron Sutaria, CH Peppiatt, Olivers, Kinleigh, Folkard and Hayward.


Euston Hotels
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#eustonhotels

See here for nearby hotels in Kings Cross, Camden and Bloomsbury.


Ibis Hotel
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#ibishotel

Ibis Hotel Euston couldn't be better located for anyone wanting to commute from and to Euston Train Station. It is opposite the train station in Cardington Street. Great if all you want to do is go to sleep, get up and bugger off. According to London Travel Guide 'The hotel is basic in design, with 380 bedrooms, an informal restaurant and bar, and a private underground car park'.


Thistle Hotel
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#thistlehotel

The Thistle Hotel at Euston might be a convenient stop off point for any one disembarking from Euston train station, it's just across the road. Its looks however, leave a lot to be desired, being composed of 1970s style concrete blocks. It looks like an office block or what you might expect a morgue would look like, which is apt given that it backs on to St James Gardens, a dog turd of a park which contains several grave stones, a legacy its earlier days as a cemetery. The reviews of the hotel that I have cast my eye over vary from OK to crap.


Thistle Hotel, Euston, 2008, Ravish London


Novotel Hotel
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#novotelhotel



Euston Road
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#eustonroad

Euston Road, designed as a northern bypass for London in the eighteenth century, propels vehicles east to west and west to east. Various tube lines transect Euston Road and run along its length dropping commuters off at Great Portland Street, Euston, Euston Square and Kings Cross respectively. The grand train stations of Euston, Kings Cross and St Pancras International all find their homes in and around Euston, and receive commuters from the north of London, the north of England and continental Europe.

It was the building of Euston Road in the eighteenth century, which provided the catalyst for the development of north London in the nineteenth century and the building of Euston train station in 1827. Originally Euston Road was called the New Road, with the name Euston being confined to a couple of small squares around the road. The name Euston came from Euston Hall, the family seat of the Duke of Grafton, whose aristocratic family owned the area. It wasn't until the building of the new train station in 1827, named Euston Grove, that Euston began to be better associated with the area. The 'grove' part of the name was later dropped from the station and New Road renamed Euston Road in 1852.

Two hundred and fifty years later after Euston Road was built to ease congestion, a tide of traffic and urban development now floods Euston on a daily basis. Stand still in Euston and let the human and vehicular traffic flow and eddy around you. The streets resound with the whooshing of cars, the ripping of rubber against tarmac. The clouds of ozone and carbon monoxide, ubiquitous, pervade the interstices of your vascular system as you gasp for air. The effluent fills urban spaces and wraps itself around each and everyone, turning humanity into a thousand islands. As the traffic swells and swirls the noisy foam lashes up against slabs of granite, concrete and jade, sitting at the bottom of towers, which are brutal, functional. Anyone looking for human warmth, a smile or just a small sign of life in Euston will wither from neglect, one only sees alienation, faces focussed on a different place and time, anything but staying in this God forsaken place.


Look Straight On in Euston Road, 2008, Ravish London


Euston Train Station
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#eustontrainstation

The conception of Euston began with the construction of the New Road, an eighteenth century bypass built for a burgeoning London. The road is today known as Euston Road and having been enveloped by the ceaseless growth of London, is no longer a bypass but a busy thoroughfare channelling traffic from Paddington to the City of London and vice versa. Nevertheless, the advent of the New Road prompted the landed gentry to rent their land out to developers who started to build new suburbs which had been made accessible to the masses.


Spores sent from the Midlands
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#spores

One such development, in 1834, included the creation of the world's first capital railway terminal, what was originally known as Euston Square train station. Capitalists took swabs from the mouth of Birmingham and wiped the collated spores in a concentrated patch in north London. The spores began to grow a long spindly arm which traced its way back home, forming what became known as the Birmingham London Railway Line. Euston train station opened in 1837, modelled on classical Greek architecture.

Joseph Cain comments on the initial engineering problems that the Euston train station posed to engineers: "Interestingly, Euston Grove was a poor engineering choice. Steam locomotives of the 1830s lacked sufficient horsepower to move carriages laden with passengers and freight up the incline to Chalk Farm. And the space in Euston was too cramped for maneuvering engines to turn them around. As a result, outbound trains from Euston Grove were powered by rope pulled from stationary steam engines located at Chalk Farm. On arrival at Chalk Farm, trains had their locomotive attached, and passengers continued on their way. Inbound trains were detached at Chalk Farm, then coasted into Euston Grove with the skill of brakemen. This arrangement lasted until July 1844, when more powerful locomotives were available."

To mark the opening of the world's first capital railway terminal a seventy-foot high arch was constructed, built from Portland stone, intended to be 'the modern equivalent to the gates of ancient cities'. The Euston Arch, as it became known, was a scaled up replica of 'a Doric portico...the kind that might have been seen in a classical Greek town, but on a colossal scale.' (Gayford, 2008). The arch was, understandably called the 'Doric Arch'. Cain suggests the arch, "was a weapon in the period's culture wars, a not-so-subtle effort to connect the mechanical, industrial, dirty new steam technologies to classical notions of grandeur and accomplishment. It added elegance and style to an awkward, inelegant profit-making business." The introduction of a train station into an area usually brings with it dust, pollution and migraines.


Euston Arch, 1950s, Warsaw 1948


In 1849 a Great Hall was added and a Ticket Office was built in 1916. Both buildings, inspired by classical Greek architecture, were incredible achievements, in stark contrast to the dull and unimaginative erections that dominate the Euston landscape today. The Great Hall was described by dmj1962 as "in the Ionic style, it had a dramatic coffered ceiling and a grand, curving double staircase. It also contained the Shareholders' Meeting Room, decorated in a sumptuous Baroque."


In the 1870s, four small lodges, built out of Portland stone, were constructed outside the station in Euston Grove. The lodges were used as parcel collecting points and had, inscribed into their walls, the names of the towns served by the railway. Two lodges still stand today, albeit in a transformed environment, the Doric Arch, grand hall and ticket office have all since been destroyed. In 1995 one of the lodges was turned into a private club for women. Today the lodges look confused and dazed, like dogs that cannot find their owners.


The Glass Bar Private Members Club, Euston, 2008, Ravish London


The original Euston train station, with its classical Greek accoutrements, was demolished in the 1960s, after bits were damaged during the war, and the station's small size struggled to cope with growing numbers of commuters. The new Euston station was expanded southwards eating up the area on which the Euston Arch once stood and huge swathes of Drummond Street which once ran parallel to it. However instead of the new station being classical Greek architecture on an even bigger scale, the architects and urban planners went for a 1960s airport replica. The results were underwhelming.

Euston station is like a flattened box, a concrete coated wafer of mundane modernism. Inside it's like what you imagine a prison to be, dark, unhappy, uncomfortable and slightly dangerous. There are a plethora of snacks stalls, but they are all so sad looking. In early 2008 a notice pinned up in the station asking for witnesses to an occasion of a woman being sexually assaulted. The trains sit in what seem like underground bunkers, in virtual darkness. Outside the station is a huge dirty brown brick wall, a domineering spirit sapping monolith. The station sits enclosed by a triangle of death, consisting of Euston Road, Hampstead Road and Eversholt Street.

Richard Morrison provided the perfect description of Euston train station stating "Even by the bleak standards of Sixties architecture, Euston is one of the nastiest concrete boxes in London: devoid of any decorative merit; seemingly concocted to induce maximum angst among passengers; and a blight on surrounding streets. The design should never have left the drawing-board, if, indeed, it was ever on a drawing-board. It gives the impression of having been scribbled on the back of a soiled paper bag by a thuggish android with a grudge against humanity and a vampiric loathing of sunlight."

So then, in 2012 Euston train station, once an inspiration for the world, is now a squalid looking square of bleakness, situated in a suburb on its deathbed, framed by three deathly thoroughfares. True Euston train station is well used, 27 million passengers a year and its open 24 hours a day.


Trains parked in Euston train station, 2008, Ravish London


Waiting for a train in Euston Station, 2011, canonsnapper


Waiting for a train in Euston Station, 2011, canonsnapper


Waiting for a train in Euston Station, 2008, Evelina


Not surprisingly, plans are afoot for developing Euston station once again. Stephen Robertson notes, 'The futuristic, billion-pound upgrade of Euston station is a chance to finally put right one of the greatest acts of Sixties architectural vandalism.' Robertson notes that, 'First to go as Euston spreads westward will be the grim Network Rail concrete boxes, the Ibis and Cottage hotels, and (sadly) the dear old Bree Louise pub. With 10 new dedicated HS2 platforms for the new generation of 400m long, 1,100-seater, 225mph monster trains, some supposedly double-decker -piecemeal expansion is impossible and instead Euston will be transformed into a 24-platform mega-station.

Point in history: in 1966 British Rail employed West Indian Asquith Xavier, bringing an end to a racist colour bar on black workers at Euston Station.


Revival of the Euston Arch
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#revivaleustonarch

The destruction of the Euston Arch caused some controversy. When Euston was developed in the 1960s, it was proposed to re-erect the arch on a different site. It was said that the demolition contractor had agreed to pay for the relocation (see dmj1962). However according to Gayford (2008) the state run British Rail concluded that re-erection would be too expensive. The remains of Euston Arch were found in the 1990s in East London 'at the bottom of the Prescott Channel off the River Lea'. This discovery led to a campaign to rebuild the arch 'either with stones recovered from beneath the water and elsewhere or with new stone from the quarry from which the original stone was first cut.'

With plans for Network Rail and private developers British Land to rebuild Euston train station, 'the Trust was re-launched to ensure that the new station included a rebuilt Euston Arch.' (See www.eustonarch.org). It has been pointed out that restoring Euston Arch would enhance the sense of tradition and fine British architecture that the restoration of Saint Pancras International has done so much for. Certainly it is clear to see that the restoration of the Euston Arch in place of the abomination that currently stands at Euston would give the prospect of rejuvenating Euston Road, and provide a marvelous compliment to the neo-gothic façade of St Pancras International.

However on October 1st 2009 Dan Carrier writing in the Camden New Journal reported that instead of a reconstructed arch, "A looping 70ft high arch of water could become the first thing passengers getting off at Euston station see.... The spectacular fountain is just one of a number of ideas proposed for a new entrance to the station, which has been earmarked for redevelopment by a consortium of British Land, Sydney and London Properties and Network Rail. The scheme has been put forward to an alternative to a campaign to re-instate the Euston Arch."


Euston Station Colonnade
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#eustonstationcolonnade

Euston Station Colonnade, a resting place for commuters, a pedestrianized area just outside of Euston train station, reminds me of a shopping centre in some outpost of the United Kingdom, where unemployment, depression and alcoholism run rife. It's a place for dropouts, pigeons, people who look beaten by life, people who amble around, who don't know where they're going, people whose internal mental worlds are bigger and more chaotic than the world outside them. Withered men sporting tatty blazers, smelling of cigarettes, sit cross-legged staring at paving stones.

The Colonnade is composed of the blacks of new tower blocks, the greys of old breezeblock structures, the tiling of a spiral staircase, all of this painted white with pigeon excrement. The fabric of the Colonnade resonates to the wheezing of London's buses and the whirring of the nearby traffic. Meanwhile businessmen and women add to the pollution with a five-minute fag break, momentarily numbed, until they are pulled back in to do service to mammon.

There is a certain poetic beauty to Euston Colonnade. It all seems to make sense. There's something earthy to Euston Colonnade, something about the limitations and vulnerabilities of humanity, which are hidden behind suits, well moisturised physiognomy, honed smiles and personae, which you find in the sanitised corporate zones down the road. The truth can be found in Euston Train Station Colonnade but for how much longer I don't know.


Office workers taking a break and a coffee at Euston Colonnade, 2008, Ravish London


Euston Colonnade, 2009,Ed'


Euston Square and Euston Grove
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#eustonsquareandgrove

Euston Square, and more precisely Euston Grove, is a shadow of its former self. Dominated by a bus station, roundabout and imposing black office blocks the square has lost much of the charm it had when first laid out in the 1810s. In the 1830s the area became the center for the new Euston station and development from then on owed much to the nature of the station. Expansion in the area in 1870 saw the construction of the two lodges that remain to this day. The lodges were not simply symbolic but also functioned as information and parcel collecting points. A bronze statue of Robert Stephenson (see below) was placed in the central reservation at the Grove's entrance. It was also at this time that the word 'Euston' was carved onto the arch.


Euston Grove, 2007, Drift Words


St Pancras International Train Station
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#stpancrasinternational

Saint Pancras International was built by the Midland Railway Company in 1868 to increase the reach of its trains into central London. Midland Railway wanted to make their station the proudest and most dominant landmark in its locality. To this end engineer William Henry Barlow built the station on 1000 18 foot cast iron pillars. The resulting undercroft was used for storing barrels of beer. (McKie, 2007).

In the 1920s the Midlands Railway company merged with the London and Northwestern Railway company, and the resulting company decided to use Euston rather than Saint Pancras, so by the 1960s Saint Pancras had become redundant. It was at this point that British Rail started to consider knocking Saint Pancras down. This notion was defeated by a combination of Whitehall officials, MPs and poet laureate John Betjeman.

Although St Pancras was saved from destruction the fact is, is what still neglected, and by the 1990s, it was a dank, depressing and ill-lit station, not the kind of place you wanted to be hanging around too long waiting for you train at. Salvation came with the development of the Channel Tunnel, and a new railway line from Paris to London. At the beginning of the twenty-first century St Pancras' underused capacity made it an ideal candidate for the London terminal for Eurostar. The station was subsequently closed down and re-developed, opening in 2007. The gleaming glass and steel structure of its train shed, at one point the largest single span structure built, allows light to flood into the station. The undercroft that had been designed to store beer, was now used as a pedestrianized zone and shopping centre. The transformation was incredible; the new station was beautiful, fresh and modern, but still retained the features of the old station. It was one of the best examples of a trend in London for maintaining but modernising old buildings and heritage. The redevelopment of Saint Pancras was a fillip for the British spirit; a rare moment; reminiscent of the day Britain was awarded the 2012 Olympics; and prior to that of when Queen Elizabeth celebrated her fiftieth birthday.


St Pancras International train station from Euston Road, 2008, Ravish London


Kings Cross Train Station
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#kingscrosstrainstation

Many people get confused not sure if St Pancras and Kings Cross are the same train station. They are completely different train stations with different histories and purposes. They are however linked via a set of underground passageways, and are served by the same set of underground tubes, i.e. if one train stops at St Pancras it doesn't then stop at Kings Cross and vice versa. St Pancras sits to the west of Kings Cross station and is distinct because it sits majestic, reaching for the skies with its elegant red spires. Kings Cross on the other hand is drab, bent double, depressed and beaten, like the prostitutes that nervously veer in and out of its shadows in the midnight hours.


An Architecture of Death
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#architectureofdeath

The architectural development of Euston has been a triumph of means over ends. Euston is an environment created on the logic that quality of life depends not on how aesthetically pleasing we can make the public spaces through which we encounter each other, but on how effective and profitable we can make those spaces. The architecture is a triumph of the private gain of the few over a celebration of life and a desire to uplift the spirit of the masses. The story of Euston over the last fifty years has been one of destroying the beauty of the area to make it more traversable; to turn it into a motorway, to turn it into a factory for conveying humans. In the 1960s British Rail proposed to demolish the classical Greek inspired Euston train station, as well as the neo-gothic St Pancras train station. A combination of Whitehall officials, MPs and poet laureate John Betjeman managed to save St Pancras, but no-one was able to save Euston station or its arch, which was demolished in the 1960s.

More recent erections to the east of Euston Road, an area which developers British Land are trying to gentrify by naming Regent's Place, have only served up a glassier version of what has gone before. The bunch of high-rise tower blocks, reflect off each other, distorting each other's images, a gaggle of ugly sisters trying to do each other down. Regent's Place recently formed part of the Crown Estate, before being sold to British Land. Anne Ashworth comments: "British Land is engaged in a £1 billion revamp of Euston, aiming to re-establish the station as a place where passengers are delighted, rather than dispirited, to arrive or embark". What has already been built at Regents Place is dull and uninspiring, a poor imitation of the City of London. The developments were accepted by local Camden Council 6-5.


Building at Regents Place, 2008, Ravish London


Already developed, Triton Square "opens to the sun and the south but it is engulfed by noise from the Euston Road and battered by gusting winds generated by the high buildings" The Square provides a chance for the soft skinned fleshy business animals, who work in the nearby office blocks, to relieve themselves of their glass and concrete shells, and bathe in the grey skies of London and polution of Euston Road. The animals sit on the bum high walls, engage in an uneasy rest and drift into a meditative state; which the bland taste of their sandwiches does little to interrupt. The animals dissociate momentarily from the neuroses of office based life, from the heady brew of anxiety, focus, survival, meetings and spreadsheets. Zombie like, munching, they re-fuel, preparing to re-enter the machine, to do battle once again. Triton Square has been called a 'popular 24-hour attraction and destination'. Tiananmen Square is visually dramatic, all the more so when hundreds of protestors are being shot to death by the Chinese mafia, but Triton Square is nothing like that. Triton Square is so lacking in drama –some people barely find the motivation to direct their lunch time sandwiches to their mouths.


The Drama of Triton Square, 2008, Ravish London


Knowledge, Science, Euston and Progress
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#knowledgescience

Who knows, in years to come Euston may become the place to hang out for lovers of science, medicine and knowledge. With the Wellcome Trust museum, the University College Hospital and the British Library it has made a good start. The Sir Francis Crick Institute is also in the process of being built.


Wellcome Building
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#wellcomebuilding

The Wellcome Building is owned by the Wellcome Trust, an independent charity funding research to improve human and animal health. Established in 1936, with an endowment of around £15 billion, the trust is the UK's largest non-governmental source of funds for biomedical research. The endowment was left by pharmaceutical entrepreneur Henry Wellcome, who died in 1936. The Wellcome Trust Building contains a library, which contains a collection of books, manuscripts, archives, films and pictures on the history of medicine from the earliest times to the present day. It was opened by James Watson, one of the co-founders of DNA. The museum is well worth a visit.


The toilet in the Wellcome Trust Museum, 2008, Ravish London


University College Hospital
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#universitycollegehospital

Surprisingly, given the pollution, UCH, the University College Hospital is located at the western tip of Euston Road. Housed in a giant green and white glass building, which opened in 2005 the UCH has been called the premier league of hospitals. The building is composed of a sixteen floor tower which gets most of the attention of the city, and a faithful companion in a podium block which houses the operating theatres and outpatients departments (McCabe and Willars, 2007). The architects of this high-rise hospital have praised it for having short travelling distances compared with low level sprawling hospitals. Its tall tower allows a lot of light to get in and gives patients and staff great views (McCabe and Willars, 2007). All this talk about architecture and design. If you read the comments that members of the public leave about the hospital you'll find the only thing they care about is how they are treated. People matter, buildings matter, but not as much. The UCL Hospital Foundation Trust offer volunteer posts in guiding patients and members of the public around the building; the hospital library, the hospital radio station City Beat and complementary therapies.


University College Hospital, 2008, Ravish London


University College Hospital, 2008, Steve Parkinson


The British Library
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#thebritishlibrary

The mundane red-brick façade of the British Library, which sits next to St Pancras train station in in the south-east corner of Somers Town, and the relative simplicity of the library's interior is borne out of architect St John Collins' adherence to the 'English Free School' tradition. Here the 'art of architecture lies in raising functional order to the level of celebration, necessity to the level of enjoyment, in that order', whatever that means... Inside the library, the only books on show, are a collection put together by George III, donated by George IV, the portly King of England, who was frankly more of a pie man than a book one. The collection, donated at the beginning of the nineteenth century, is encased in a glass tower, six stories high, consistent with the wishes of the king 'who ordained that its beautiful leather and vellum bindings be on show to the general public'. Given the British Library holds over 150 million items, the infinitesimally small number you could get through in your lifetime should direct you to one conclusion– there is more to life than knowledge. The British Library receives copies of all books produced in the United Kingdom and Ireland, including all foreign books distributed in the UK. It also purchases many items published outside Britain. The new material that arrives at the British Library each year is enough to fill 12.5 kilometres of additional shelving. The Library is open to everyone who has a genuine need to use its collections. Anyone with a permanent address who wishes to carry out research can register for a Reader Pass, providing they provide proof of signature and address for security purposes. The public can gain access to the exhibition galleries, the bookshop and the 'Centre for the Book', and the school parties to visit the Education Service Department. St John Wilson built the British Library to last for another two hundred and fifty years. Let's see if it does!


Sculpture of Isaac Newton, British Library Piazza, 2007, Chris John Beckett


Sir Francis Crick Institute
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#sirfranciscrickinstitute

At the beginning of the twenty-first century the British government agreed to relocate the National Institute for Medical Research, now renamed the Sir Francis Crick Institute, from Mill Hill in North London to the back of the British Library on railway wasteland in Somers Town. Construction began in July 2011. The building is due for completion in 2015. The institute, which specialises in the study of viruses, will be 'the biggest centre for biomedical research and innovation in Europe'. See here for more information on what the institute is planned to look like


Making time for God in Euston
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#god

Quaker Society of Religious Friends
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#quakers

The Quakers Religious Society of Friends has its base on Euston Road. The society's headquarters is a rather pleasant old looking building lost amongst the towerblocks and hustle and bustle of Euston Road. The headquarters has a bookshop, which has its own mini-cafe, which when I went in on a Monday afternoon, in 2008, which was silent and empty; and had a garden. According to the Quakers website, "Quakers share a way of life rather than a set of beliefs. Quakers seek to experience God directly, within ourselves and in our relationships with others and the world around us... Our focus is on our experience rather than written statements of belief." Seems a sensible, flexible, accommodating and non-domineering way of going about religion.


A Quaker Dove with Pigeon Shit in its Eye, 2008, Ravish London


St Pancras Church
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#stpancraschurch

The big old St Pancras Church stands on the south-east corner of Euston Road and Upper Woburn Place. The church was built in the early nineteenth century, in what has been called the 'Greek Revival' style, to serve what was in those days the 'Borough of St Pancras' that stretched from Oxford Street to Highgate. The Borough of St Pancras has since ceased to exist and with an increase in the density of the population in the area, the church now serves a much smaller geographical locality. In its day the church was the most expensive church to be built in London since the building of St Paul's Cathedral (see wikipedia entry). According to UK Attraction.com the four caryatids, which support the ceiling of the church's crypt, were based on those of a temple in Athens; following Euston train station in the tradition of mimicking classical Greek architecture. The website claims "The figures were originally made taller in error, and had to have a middle section removed so they could fit under the roof. They guard the entrance to the crypt, which was closed as a burial vault in 1854 and later used as an air-raid shelter in both World Wars."


Depiction of Christ, St Pancras New Church, 2008, Ravish London


Three forms of Gambling in Euston
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#gambling

On the east side of Euston Road, in the Kings Cross area, there are a number of shops, each one connected with gambling in some way. On the western corner you have 'Play To Win' a shady little one-armed bandit joint illuminated by neon lights. One shop along you then have Ladbrokes, a more socially acceptable form of gambling one which in 2008 Lee Dixon, Iain Wright, Ally McCoist and Chris Kamara (all famous TV pundit ex-footballers) were more than willing to help attract people into. And then skip another shop and on the eastern corner of the block you have a 'bureau de change', an even more socially acceptable form of gambling, and one in which we often have no choice but to engage in. In all three cases the proprietors are making a profit from our desire to have and obtain money.


Money Matters: gambling, betting and foreign exchange, 2008, Ravish London


The only Oasis I know of in Euston
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#oasis

Euston Road is an unforgiving environment, the cars and lorries hustle their way through the city streets, commuters stiffen up, bristle and move forward with determination. It's such a harsh environment, that stumbling across Stern's World Café can seem like stumbling across an oasis. Stern's World Café is one half of a shop, of which the other half contains an assortment of so-called world music. I don't know about the world music, not being a great fan of it, but I do know that the food that Stern's serve is fantastic. I had the most amazing spicy prawn salad, it was fantastic, thoroughly delicious, and I won't hesitate to go back there and eat again. You can get to the cafe from both Warren Street, and also through the music shop entrance from Euston Road, but blink once and you'd miss it. It really is an oasis of peace and tranquillity for anyone looking for salvation from the stresses and strains of Euston Road, and functions like a magic doorway into the tranquillity and peace of Warren Street.


Stern's World Café, Euston Road, 2008, Ravish London


Euston and Sex
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#sex

Euston train station has quite a seedy feel to it. It is Euston for example which is the home for the 'tawdry sex den' which Max Mosley was alleged to have a financial interest in. It is the southern part of Eversholt Street which is most seedy. This dusty and unforgiving street has a dodgy looking bookshop as well as a lap dancing club.

Euston also hosts London's most intriguing shop, Transformations. Outside on its shop wall Transformations has an image of a blonde haired guy, looking directionless and without any joie de vivre, juxtaposed with his reincarnation, a happy but vulnerable and expectant looking woman sporting a Coronation Street perm and an over the top cocktail dress. On the website there are great images of the 'woman' who runs Transformations in a four poster bed with a smooth looking black guy wearing a gold chain and a glass of champagne. The before photo shows a balding businessman from the northeast in a grey suit with a briefcase. It raises the question of just how many accountants from Newcastle are going through the motions dreaming about another life featuring Mediterranean groceries and Craig David look-alikes? The owner of Transformations has a sense of humor commenting, 'Transformations offer transvestites, crossdressers and transgendered a discreet , confidential and truly feminine shopping experience, as well as providing a he to she make over service. I know the supermarkets are trying to take over the world these days but here's one local Euston shop that won't be fearing a Tescos in the neighbourhood.'

Sex can be found in other more unlikely places. According to the the Londonist The British Library 'holds the world's foremost collection of tart cards -- those colourful adverts that decorate London's phone boxes.' The Londonist goes on to explain that Stephen Lowther, who is responsible for maintaining the collection, 'periodically checks the local phone boxes -- centering on the unholy trinity of King's Cross, Warren Street and Baker Street -- for new varieties of filth.... Over 20 years, the collection has built up to 17 boxes.'


That's Magic!
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#magic

The Centre of the Magic Arts is the headquarters of the Magic Circle and has been since 1998. The Centre boasts a library and a museum.

The Magic Circle's emblem photographed above is the zodiac, but why the zodiac was chosen to represent the Circle remains a mystery.

The Magic Circle is a private club where magicians meet to 'invent illusions, share secrets and master their magic'. According to Wikipedia acceptance into the Circle requires that the applicant is known to two members of the Circle and is able to perform a trick to the standard expected of the Council of the Magic Circle. The Circle's motto indocilis privata loqui reflects the requirement placed upon members not to disclose their secrets.

The club was men only until 1991 and has around 1,500 members. In 1972 a 23 year old dancer and magician named Diane Matthews burned her bra in protest at being barred (article written by David Beckley featured in: Dawes and Bailey, 2005).

The Magic Circle mission statement is "To be acknowledged as the premier magical society in the world by magicians and the public alike through the pursuit of the highest standards and the promotion of the art of magic and the appreciation of its heritage."


The Magic Circle, 2008, Ravish London


Places for living in Euston
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#livingineuston

Drummond Street
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#drummondstreet

Drummond Street contains several curry houses, restaurants and grocery stores. Given that most of Euston has been transformed into a corporate square kilometre of uniformity and transport hubs, it provides refreshing karma.

Recently, bad rice harvests in India, the trend towards younger Bengalis going into non-restaurant businesses, and recent restrictions on Asian chefs coming to work in Britain have put strains on the curry house businesses in Drummond Street (Foot and Harman, 2008).

Drummond Street has over the last ten years been the scene of various fights and attacks perpetrated by Asian youths. In 2003 two teenagers attacked another two teenagers with baseball bats on the corner of Drummond Street (Walker, 2003).

Drummond Street heads eastwards from Regent's Park towards Euston train station. Before the redevelopment of Euston train station in the 1960s Drummond Street extended further to the west, in to what is now the train station, through what was called the 'Euston Arch' and into Doric Way, a small street in Somers Town near to St Pancras International train station. The urban planners decided to demolish Euston Arch and put up the soul-destroying ugliness that those who live and work in Euston have to put up with day after day. Euston train station is due to be redeveloped within the next few years. Some have been campaigning for the restoration of the arch. Whatever happens Drummond Street will always be looking a bit castrated and disconsolate.


Greyness on Drummond Street, 2008, Ravish London


Tolmers Square
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#tolmerssquare

Tolmers Square is a tranquil red brick residential area, unremarkable in its architectural design but fascinating in its juxtaposition, buried behind the towering office blocks, which dominate Euston near Hampstead Road. Passing into Tolmers Square is like entering a secret society.

Hidden London reveals that Tolmers Square was originally laid out in the 1860s on land belonging to the New River Company and named after a hreftfordshire hamlet near the river's source. The site goes on to point out that Greeks and Cypriots settled in the square after the second world war; and when they moved out Asians took their place.

Disputes over the future of the square, which involved squabbles between land developers and local people and students looking to further the interest of the community, have gone down in 'urban planning' legend. According to Hidden London 'The activists failed to prevent the destruction of much of the original housing, but succeeded in persuading Camden council to compulsorily purchase the site from the property company Stock Conversion. Plans to construct half a million square feet of office space were abandoned and Tolmers Square was rebuilt with council flats and a Young's pub.' A book has been written on this subject by Nick Wates.


Tolmers Square, 2008, Ravish London


Tolmers Square Commnunity Festival, 1975, Eric Hands


Tolmers Square Commnunity Festival, 1975, Eric Hands


Tolmers Square Commnunity Festival, 1975, Eric Hands


North Gower Street
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#northgowerstreet

North Gower Street is a going nowhere kind of street, connecting the dusty Hampstead Road to Euston Road and Euston train station. At the Hampstead Road area there is a pedestrianised zone where various drunkards hang out, downing the booze, walking up and down in affected strops, and shouting and laughing at each other.


What to do in Euston
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#whattodoineuston

There are one or two things worth having a look at on Euston Road, including the British Library, the Wellcome Trust Museum and a few odd shops, including a chess shop and a cheap as chips bookshop. But most of the fun in London is located around Euston, not in it.

What to do in London.


Parks in Euston
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#parksineuston

St James Gardens is a small park, nothing special, but a nice peaceful area to hang around at lunchtime if you have the misfortune of working or otherwise being in the Euston area of London. It was a former burial ground, described in 1878 as ' a large, dreary, and ill-kept burial-ground' and some graves still lie there today in the northern most part of the gardens. There is a multi-use games area, which according to the local Council website is marked out for football, basketball and tennis.


Places to eat
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#eatineuston

The African Kitchen usually has a variety of African furniture and other things outside for sale. It is sandwiched into what is an otherwise Asian street, full of curry houses and Asian grocery stores, in the heart of Euston, a dirty and edgy area in north London. User reviews suggest that it is small, cheap and cheerful, and everything is done with a personal touch. Sounds like a place worth checking out if you are in the area.


References
http://www.ravishlondon.com/euston/index.html#references