Welsh Slate’s Blue Grey Ffestiniog roofing slates have helped to transform St Pancras International from near demolition to an iconic gateway to Europe.

Some 80,000 Ffestiniog 500mm x 300mm slates were installed by specialist contractor T&P Lead Roofing via distributor Alltype Roofing on the roof of the Barlow Shed – so named after William Henry Barlow, the Midland Railway’s consultant engineer, who designed the route and station layout, including a single-span arched train shed constructed of iron and glass.

This roof is the largest and most spectacular of the High Victorian period, being a single span of 74m (243ft), rising 30m (110ft) high in a slightly pointed wrought-iron arch, and 213m (700ft) long. Its span was not an exceptional dimension for bridges but for an interior it was extraordinary, especially extended in depth to form the widest and largest undivided space ever enclosed.

As part of the station’s award-winning £380 million refurbishment into a crucial London interchange providing a regional, intercity, continental and high-speed railway, Barlow’s original train shed roof was restored to its Victorian glory, in consultation with English Heritage and with painstaking reference to original detail.

It featured Welsh Slate’s Ffestiniog slates, 18,000 panes of self-cleaning glass, and iron girders stripped and repainted in their original pale blue.

It’s a far cry from the 1950s and 1960s when British Railways tried repeatedly to close and demolish the station. Writer and broadcaster John Betjeman spearheaded a campaign to save the station and hotel, and in November 1967 succeeded in getting the buildings declared Grade 1 listed days before demolition.

The Channel Tunnel then opened in May 1994 … but high-speed trains could only reach their maximum speeds on the French side. So, in 1996, the Government passed the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Act, authorising the construction of a high-speed line from the tunnel to a redeveloped St Pancras International.

The new St Pancras International station officially opened in November 2007 with Eurostar and East Midland services, and with Thameslink services joining that December. At the end of 2009, high-speed domestic services began between St Pancras and Kent.

The selection of St Pancras railway station as the new terminus for Eurostar required a highly complex programme of expansion, modernisation and restoration, designed by Pascalls architects.

To accommodate the sleek new trains, the station was doubled in length, the concourses being extended well beyond the intricate structure of the listed Barlow Shed roof. A contemporary, minimalist ‘floating’ canopy was introduced to protect the extended platforms, creating an intriguing contrast between the old and the new.

The successful integration of the main station with the new Eurostar terminus, Midland Mainline, Thameslink, London Underground and adjacent King’s Cross Stations, has created a coherent transport hub, currently serving around 30 million passengers a year.

The multi RIBA award-winning project became the catalyst for the significant redevelopment and investment into the surrounding area.



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