Victorian London - Buildings, Monuments and Museums - The King's Cross


What strange mutations does the hand of "public improvement" work in our metropolis. Less than a score of years have rolled away since a very anomalous pile was reared at the point where meet the New-road, Maiden-lane, Pentonville-hill, the Gray's Inn-road, &c.; the spot receiving the somewhat grandiloquent name of "King's Cross." The building boasted, however, of correspondent pretension; the lower story was classically embellished, as the portion in our engraving shows; the upper stories were less ornate; but, if the expression be allowable, the structure was crowned with a composition statue of the Fourth George - and a very sorry representative of one who was every inch a king. The pennyworths of artistical information, doled out from week to week, soon taught the people that the above was a very uncomplimentary effigy of majesty; even the very cab-men grew critical; the watermen (aquarii) jeered; and the omnibus drivers ridiculed royalty in so parlous a state, at length the statue was removed in toto, or rather by piecemeal.
    We cannot tax our memory with the uses to which the building itself has been appropriated; now a place of exhibition, then a police-station, and last of all (to come to the dregs of the subject) a beer-shop. Happily, our artist seized upon the modern antique just in time for rescue from oblivion; and his sketch is far more picturesque than would be "a proper house and home." The "time to pull down" at length arrived; the strange pile has been cleared away; and, lest a future generation should ask "where the fabric stood," we have consigned its whereabout to our columns. The dome-topped house in the distance will serve to identify the spot with our own times: it is in the Regent-street-cum-Gray's-Inn-road style.

source: Illustrated London News, 1845