St Pancras Reconstruction


This page is the index to various pieces of research work. Some of the work is virtually complete, or as complete as it can be, whilst other pieces are in a much earlier state. In any event, all of it should be regarded as 'Work in Progress' and the author can do no more than say that you are very welcome to use the information on an 'as is' basis but if you are relying on it you may care to check with me first. In due course I will mark up pieces that are 'complete', they might even get published in print, one day.

I recognize that publishing incomplete work has its dangers, but ultimately I felt it better to make it available in some form as early as I could rather than just sitting on a hard drive where, life being what it is, it may never be of any use at all.

Want to use the information?

For access to the information, just click on the links adjacent. If you use the information, an acknowledgement with reference to the website would be appreciated.

The Photo

A view no longer possible-St Pancras station in June 2003, This location is now covered by the new domestic (East Midlands) station, upon which construction had just started.

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London Research

TEST ONLYA brief history of London's airports with particular reference to their means of access by rail and other surface transport
London's Airports and public transport access

TEST ONLYThis research relates to the work undertaken to identify, visit and record every surviving parish boundary marker in Greater London (excluding the square mile of the City)
London's Parish Boundary Markers - A Survey

TEST ONLYMuch London property is owned by ancient institurions that sometimes identify their estate by discrete marks. This research presents some illustrative examples.
Examples illustrative of London property ownership marks

TEST ONLYMile markers (milepostes and milestones) have been a feature on many main roads in London, but many have disappeared over the years. This is a small project to identify and make better known the survivors
London's Milestones and Mileposts - A Survey

TEST ONLYAt one time there were over 100 electricity power stations in London, most very small. There are now almost none. This research seeks to identify where they were and how they were equipped.
London power station history

Technical Research

TEST ONLYFor some years London Transport had one of the largest private telephone systems in the world and one that for a while served all modes of transport. This research seeks document its rise and fall, together with its other communications systems.
London Transport's Telephone System

AFC GateIn the 1960s ticket issuing on the Underground was very people-intensive and ticket examination very difficult to enforce. The Underground then embarked on developing an automated system which was perhaps over-ambitious at the time though today's technology now works well. This research provides a record of how all this developed.
The Story of the Underground's LT Automatic Fare Collection

Programme MachineIn an effort to reduce staff numbers and improve service performance the Underground was from the 1950s foremost in developing automatic means of route setting followed bt the development of programme machines, used to set the routes for the trains and heavily used until recently. This was a complex story and the results of this research are given here.
The Development the Automatic Route Setting on LT Railways

Research Support

The late Peter Bancroft spent many years at the Public Record Office (now the National Archives) studying London Transport's records and summarizing the indexes in order to make LT records easier to find and more accessible. He produced Part 1 of this useful work just before his death but left most of the material for part 2 available. After editing and re-organizing, Part 2 has been made available on this website. Part 1 is available from me as a book.
London Transport Records at the Public Record Office

London Transport for many years issued detailed information about signalling and track changes in the form of supplements to its weekly traffic notices and circulars. The late Peter Bancroft listed these as a convenience for researchers and made it available in a slim booklet. This section of this website has sought to keep the information up to date.
London Underground, Railway Supplements to Traffic Circular, 1917-1933 and 1992-2000

Wider Research

The Parish and associated local government units. With an interest in boundaries and the constant discovery of 'strange' initials on street furniture, I was moved many years ago to write down something of the origin of these units. It needs updating and refreshing, but I have made it available here in case it is useful to anyone.
The English Civil and Ecclesiastical Parish

Books you can read online

The Evolution of British Railways 1909-2009

The railways in Britain have changed profoundly over the last hundred years but little has been said about how this gradual evolution in operating and management methods changed in parallel with technical development and the changing circumstances of the country as a whole. This book attempts to fill that gap.

Originally written to celebrate the centenary of the Railway Study Association, it draws on the rich proceedings of the organization including many papers written by contemporary (and in many cases quite famous) railway managers giving their views and opinions about what worked well and what didn't, and what they were doing about it. I am not aware this resource has been tapped before. This appeared in 2009 as 'A Century of Change — A Hundred Years of the Railway Study Association.

The Railway Study Association emerged from the special railway courses run by the London School of economics and became a body joined by many aspiring railway managers. With informative study tours and lectures by famous railway engineers and managers, the association's repository of lectures over half a century provide a fascinating record of development explained (often candidly) by those who were there at the time. It is hoped the result provides a slightly different narrative to many of the general railway histories that abound.
The Evolution of British Railways 1909 to 2009

Transport Research

Railway RulebookRailways involve the potentially dangerous combination of people, heavy equipment and speed and from the first they needed a safe system of work. Crude at first, this soon developed into an organized rule book, but this was not without complication, the story being told here.
Railway Rulebooks - British Railways

Underground RulebookThe story behind the London Underground Railway Rule Book has parallels with that of the main line railways, whose rule book was shared for over a century. The belief that 'Metros' were somehow different has in recent years created its own constantly changing rule presentation, and the issues are examined here.
Railway Rulebooks - London Underground

Signal BoxThe humble signal box was once a feature of every Underground station but from early Edwardian days power-operated systems became available covering ever larger areas of control. Today, only a handful of traditional signal boxes remain. This research is in form of a register recording each one, including operational dates and location.
Signal Boxes and other Interlockings on the London Underground - A Detailed Register and Chronology

Oxford CircusEvery Underground station has its story to tell, perhaps some being more interesting than others. Oxford Circus has had a particularly interesting history, its facilities always lagging behind that demanded by its heavy traffic and its early designs (part built) so bad they were abandoned. This research sets out that story.
Oxford Circus - The Story of an Underground Station

AdvertsRailways have usually operated with tight financial margins and extra income from station trading and adverting has been useful and sometimes vital. Londons trains, buses and stations have always been excellent places to advertise and generated much innovation. This research records the story of the advertising business of London's transport.
London Transport Advertising

MDR MapThe District Railway had been little written about until my book appeared and it seemed a good idea to set aside part of my web site to add additional information that could not be included in the book or which has come to light since publication. This link takes to you the separate index for those pages.
District Railway additional historical material

MDR MapIn steam days the District Railway was prodigious in its promotional efforts and as part of this it produced large numbers of maps over a period of about thirty years. Several efforts have been made to record all these and this research attempts to bring all this together, with additional data from author's own collection.
District Railway Large Format Maps - A Cartobibliography

Car Reg NoSince 1903 it is been necessary for all vehicles used on UK roads to carry a prominent registration number and the original system, involving letters and numbers remained in use with only minor modification until 2001. The letters represented the original counties and towns that maintained registers. This research follows the history and development of this system.
UK Vehicle Registration Numbers - A Brief History


A brief essay setting out some views about Dr Richard Beeching and his contribution to the closure of many railway lines. It is suggested he was a convenient conduit for the widespread disapproval of a process which was actually driven by a combination of practicality (started long before Beeching and carried on manly after he had gone) and inept government policy. Beeching's desire to improve the core system rarely gets a mention.
Beeching 50 years on

The electro-mechanical train destination signs that were such a characteristic of District Railway and District Line platforms for eighty years are interesting in the variety of the destinations displayed and the technical system that constrained how they worked. It seemed worthwhile to try and record this whilst evidence was just about still available.
District Railway Platform (Train Description) Indicators - A Preliminary Study

Over the last couple of decades or so the London Underground diagram has been increasingly lauded as a masterpiece of graphic design which almost defines London. The credit for this is heaped upon Henry C Beck, who designed the original diagram in 1932. However, amidst this frenzied euphoria, we find Beck being credited with all kinds of features he did not actually introduce himself. This article discusses the origin of the various design features of the diagram, with some wider observations.
Design Aspects of London Underground Diagram

Corporate knowledge within large organizations seems harder than ever to retain in this electronic age where personal experience is almost considered a fault. A simple and consistent system for how to number railway platforms, thoroughly understood for decades, is forgotten, so the evidence suggests. I thought I would write it down.
London Underground Platform Numbering

The expression 'Mind the Gap' has caught the public imagination in London, and populist writers treat it as a modern 'fun' expression. In fact the term has been around for many decades. This little bit of research indicates how it came into use, and why there are gaps in the first place.
London Underground Platform-train gaps and Mind the Gap

Once geographical errors are made they gain currency and credibility very quickly and are then the devil's own job to correct. The Mantles Wood error has irked me for years and I offer it as one example (of several) of terms that are just not right. Ignorance or acceptance of errors suggest they might equally be tolerated in safety critical areas!
Mantles Wood Property Boundary - the Myth

Until the 1970s the destination of many Underground trains was made via enamelled iron plates displayed on the front of trains, each train carrying sets of these and each plate displaying one of two destinations. The way destinations were paired up, and the way they were set out, tells us just a little bit more about the history of the system. This research is no more than setting down what is known about them.
Rolling Stock Destination Signs on the London Underground until the Second World War

Today's uninteresting 'Euro-style' driving licences are the latest product of the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency, but before control of these licences were centralized in the 1970's driving licences were issued by County (and County Borough) councils. Although from 1933 licences were based on a fairly standard design, prior to that, and from 1903 when licences were first issued), each authority issued its own pattern of widely varying design. This brief article sets out the brief history of licences, with examples.
British Driving Licences