Old railway tunnel at King’s Cross

DSC07963crp - Old railway tunnel at King's Cross

The ‘Widened Lines’ (or what is left of them) are rail tunnels between St Pancras and Farringdon now used by Thameslink. The tunnels were a joint venture between the Great Northern and Metropolitan Railways and completed in 1866. Historically the lines also linked to King’s Cross mainline station as well as terminating at Moorgate, and serving depots at Farringdon and the Smithfield markets.

This is a view of the old tunnel ramp at Kings’ Cross in its last days before disappearing completely. Trains from Moorgate emerged into the long gone platform 16 (later renumbered 14) at King’s Cross via what was known as the Hotel Curve. By that time just part of the retaining wall leading to the tunnel existed. These pictures were taken in May 2005.

DSC07964 - Old railway tunnel at King's Cross
In the foreground is the top of the tunnel.

Attempts have been made to keep any potential urban explorers from crawling through the remaining gap in the tunnel towards the old King’s Cross Midland (now the disused Thameslink) station.

DSC07963l - Old railway tunnel at King's Cross

The pictures below are embedded from Flicker and show the same scenes in the 1970s. Both my 2005 and the 1977 view taken by loosegrip99 clearly show the same brickwork above the arch of the tunnel.

London Kings Cross Widened lines tunnel 3rd July 1977

A DMU, possibly bound for Welwyn, is seen at Platform 14 having just emerged from the Hotel Curve tunnel sometime in this 1970s view by std70040. On the right can be seen a pair of workmens’ escape arches. The top of one of these (not the same one though) can be seen in the picture I took in 2005. Look at the one showing the tunnel entrance in 1977 – the top most of the penultimate arch next to the tunnel entrance is that shown in my 2005 view.

King's Cross Hotel Curve platform

The last trains ran either in November 1976, or, as some sources say, March 1977. After that all the remaining Widened Lines services – ie those to Bedford – started from St Pancras and became known as the ‘Bedpan Electrics.’ There would be no more Widened Lines services via King’s Cross. It is said the old tunnel was later used for access in order to upgrade the remaining section of widened lines between St Pancras and Farringdon for the introduction of Thameslink in 1988. I assume after the opening of Thameslink the tunnel became totally redundant and was then mostly filled in.

The following picture was taken in April 2017 and shows the same location today. Everything has been concreted over. The only indication of any presence of the former Hotel Curve tunnel seems to be the two sealed off pipes in the foreground.

DSC 0533 - Old railway tunnel at King's Cross

The other direction from Bedford to Moorgate was via the suburban station at York Way. That has also disappeared though some minor traces remain, whilst the tunnel under York Way and the Regent’s Quarter now carries service pipes.

2 thoughts on “Old railway tunnel at King’s Cross

  1. Hello,
    These photos are superb and are just what I’ve been looking for, for months now ! I could kick myself for not having visited that site (presumably next to Cheney Road) ten years or so ago 🙁

    One question though; You state that the DMU would have been bound for Bedford, but unless I’m mistaken the Hotel Curve platform led up to the Eastern region only, therefore towards Welwyn, Hatfield and Hertford. Services towards Bedford on the Midland line would have carried on slightly further westbound before curving northwards under St. Pancras and joining the Midland Line south of Kentish Town; ie through the present St. Pancras International station ?

    Great photos though, and thank you !

    1. Thanks for the comments. I took the pics because redevelopment was in the pipeline, but wish I done a proper project covering the area in more depth at the time. Sorry I wasnt thinking when I said Bedford! That’s where they go from the Widened Lines now. This one may have been going to Welwyn. Have corrected it.

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