IMG 2149 - Euston Square - then and now

Euston Square – then and now

The state of today’s Euston Square is that it as well as may not exist as I illustrated in the first part of this series – Euston Square – where? Few seem to know it even exists!

Camden Council’s signage ensures the square’s ID is gone in a flash. Street signs proclaim ‘Euston Square’ for a very tiny distance before it becomes Eversholt Street.

Euston Square? No! It's Eversholt Street
Euston Square? No! It’s Eversholt Street

Do Camden’s efforts concur with many – that Euston Square Gardens is an unwanted thorn? Well there’s barely anything postive said of this formerly grand square:

“The square outside is a bleak concrete expanse, with no positive elements apart from a lot of buses to get you out of there as quickly as possible.” (Building 4 Change)

 

“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.” (Building 4 Change) & (Openbuildings)

The tower in front of the station is known as One Euston Square, a functional, perhaps quasai-brutalist, 1960′s tower. Richard Seifert, who designed the Nat West Tower (Tower 42 these days) and Centre Point, was known as ‘The Colonel.’ Apparently he set the trend for the almost total eradication of Euston Square:

“The Colonel’s infamous rebuilding of Euston station between 1962 and 1968 saw the unforgivable destruction of both Philip Hardwick’s monumental terminus building and the Euston Arch in front of it.” (Standard)

Euston Piazza by the station is an official address and part of what was once the square. Right inside the piazza the Seifert tower declares the area as Euston Square. Bizarre!

No1 Euston Square (the western Siefert tower) has its ‘square’ titlage, yet its just a tokenistic gesture. That should have been the other Siefert tower, 1 Eversholt Street – approximately where the original 1 Euston Square was!

30 Euston Sq appears to be the only genuine reference to the old square yet its a very recent reversion. In the 1960s it was renumbered 1 Melton Street so as to remove every possible indication that Euston Square had existed.

Let us look at some views of the ‘square’ then and now. Firstly Euston Square in the 1920’s, with its decorative lampost, is a view totally beyond recognition despite the 2015 viewpoint being similar:

Decorative lamp post 1920s. Source: English Heritage
Decorative lamp post 1920s. Source: English Heritage
The 1920s perspective in 2015!
The 1920s perspective in 2015!

By the 1960s the destruction of Euston Square had begun. World War Two had already initiated some of that process. A report informs us both Euston Hotel and the Euston Square residences had blast damage that was ‘repairable’, yet did not prevent their wholesale destruction. The view below shows gaps where buildings on either corner of Euston Grove had been victims of that war.

Euston Square in 1962. Source: Wikipedia/Ben Brooksbank
Euston Square in 1962. Source: Wikipedia/Ben Brooksbank
Entrance to Euston Grove 2015
Entrance to Euston Grove 2015

The same view today – well not exactly! Road alterations and heavy traffic has made it difficult to attain the same perspective. Nevertheless the war memorial and the decorative lamposts are evident.

The Euston Memorial is not part of the original square. Built in 1927 its been an iconic part of the square since. It fits very uncomfortably into today’s scene when viewed from all aspects except southwards:

Euston memorial looking south down the Grove to Euston Road
Euston memorial looking south down the Grove to Euston Road
Euston memorial looking east to bus station
Euston memorial looking east to bus station

The tunnels:

Euston Square was divided into three parts with a tunnel underneath Euston Grove linking the two northern halves and another under Euston Road to the southern half. In terms of such tunnels in London’s parks, the only other instance is Park Square Gardens where the Nursemaid’s tunnel links this private park’s two sections. It is not know when the Euston Square tunnels were closed nevertheless they still exist as these pictures show.

The tops of the arches of the old tunnels can be seen at the rear of the two gate houses
The tops of the arches of the old tunnels can be seen at the rear of the two gate houses
The arches of the old tunnels can be seen at the rear of the lodges
The arches of the old tunnels can be seen at the rear of the lodges

The depressions in whats left of the square that formed the approaches to the Euston Grove and Euston Road tunnels can also be discerned despite considerable infilling.

The pair of gate houses which are now wine bars, were built in 1870 perhaps a couple of decades before the tunnels were dug.

Old view showing the famous Euston Hotel
Old view showing the famous Euston Hotel

Looking north from the memorial, Euston Grove once offered a grand prospect towards the Euston Hotel and the famous arch beyond. Nowdays the same view gives us parked buses and Ed’s Diner! Despite the planners’ best intentions the trees dont help.

'Old view' perspective now shows the famous Ed's Diner!
‘Old view’ perspective now shows the famous Ed’s Diner!

The Stephenson statue is an item that has moved several times in the area’s lifetime. Originally it was stood at the entrance to Euston Grove before taking up residency inside Hardwick’s Euston Station. Now it stands in Euston Piazza.

Euston ‘Square’ is definitely one of London’s considerably unkempt, unwanted, public spaces. Pathways are unmaintained, with many potholes clearly showing, whilst rubbish collects in the spots cleverly designed in the sixties & seventies for the specialist purpose of collating humanity’s disposables, all invoking the brutalist aspect even more 🙂

The first part was published in November 2015 as Euston Square – where?

3 Replies to “Euston Square – then and now”

  1. Dr Julie Fielding

    Thank you so much for this wonderful information. My Welsh grandmother, Gertrude Wood, lived at 1 Euston Square from about mid 1917 until June 1919. It was a boarding house and I think Louisa and Thomas Dymond ran the boarding house (or they may have just lived there). Gertrude worked as Manageress at Kensington Station Refreshment Rooms during this time. Her brother was in France (WW1) and wrote many postcards to that address. In August 1918 my grandfather (Australian soldier from Tasmania) Lance stayed there and met Gertrude. After the war they were married at St Pancras Church on 28 March 1919. After going back to Gertrude’s home in Bangor, Wales in June 1919 they left Liverpool on 9 August aboard the Ceramic and came out to Tasmania, Lance died in 1966 and Gertrude died in 1967. Sadly her brother went missing in the war and was never found.
    I have been doing the family history for quite some time, and I have been to London twice (and Wales once) but have never been able to locate Euston Square. Online has been equally unsuccessful. However, yesterday I found these links:
    http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol21/pt3/plate-63 Photo of Nos 1-14 Euston Square
    http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol21/pt3/plate-64 Photo of Nos 15 – 28 Euston Square (with lamp post!)
    Then today I found your blog! What was particularly exciting is the blog is current, not the usual forums of 10 year old stuff. Thanks again!

    • admin

      Thank you for your feedback! These posts take a lot of time to write & feedback is appreciated 🙂

      I always thought it odd that Euston Square tube didnt actually seem to serve Euston Square and that set me off on writing these posts. Indeed Euston Square tube was until the 1920’s known as Gower Street. It was changed to Euston Square to compete with nearby Euston on the Northern Line (Hampstead Tube), yet its not geographically accurate. Ironically the station is almost next door to Warren Street station on the same Northern LIne!!

      Many people, including the universities nearby, were up in arms at the time the name change was made and quite a number of objections were made, letters written to the Metropolitan Railway company, articles in the newspapers etc yet the Metropolitan Railway insisted and went ahead.

      I had a look at those pictures you found, thanks for these and they are brilliant, I like the picture of the Edwards Family Hotel, as it is the best I have seen of that so far and the one showing Nos 1-14 is also great because it shows a lovely view of these splendid town houses.

      It is very interesting to read about your family living at Euston Square. They had great transport links as their own railway station (Euston) was the direct link to Bangor, and I presume they may have regualrly used the famous expresses to Holyhead, such as The Irish Mail etc when they returned to Gwynedd (formerly Caernarvonshire) to visit family.

      They must have had quite a bit of competition with there being quite a few hotels in the square, including the two big ones next door (Edwards & Euston hotels) but I imagine that there would have been a good amount of travellers anyway to keep all the accomodation businesses busy.

      Its interesting to read about Kensington station refreshment rooms I didnt know there was one there – however many of the stations once had refreshment rooms and quite a number even had their own pubs, right on the platforms themselves so your family were certainly connected with the little known and unusual history of the refreshment rooms/public houses on London’s underground network 🙂

      Thanks again for your interest and detailing a bit of Euston Square family history 🙂

  2. Mike Pinchen

    Wonderful stuff. I served at Euston Fire Station for many years, (retired in 2005). I am interested in all aspects of the history of the area. In Part 1 there is reference to a building that occupies the eastern section of Euston Square, the Hopscotch Day Nursery. Does anyone have any additional information about this? When it was built, when it was demolished?

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