This train stops at a wonderful piece of Railway history and 19th Century architecture that was built beside St Pancras Station in London by the Midland Railway Company between 1873 and 1876.
It was a massive 300-bed hotel for many of those who travelled on the line at that time. But by the early twentieth century ‘The London, Midland and Scottish Railway’ felt it too costly to run this ‘big boy’ and promptly closed it in 1935.
Since then this fine old hotel has been rented as office space (St Pancras Chambers), been a dumping ground for ‘British Rail’, and in April 1996, its interior was rented out by its Landlord (B.R.) to a record company who promptly turned it into the backdrop for the Spice Girls’ first pop video, ‘Wannabe’. (Good God, hadn’t it suffered enough by then?)
In the pop video of ‘Wannabe’, the beautiful ornate handrail of the hotel’s grand staircase is polished by both Geri Halliwell’s and Melanie Brown’s surgically enhanced mammary glands.
Sadly, the splendour of both the Grand Midland Hotel and the Spice Girls singing voices having been falling into ‘wreck and ruin’ ever since. Some may say that in the case of one of the Spice Girls (who’s now married to a football player with a crock foot) the splendid singing voice wasn’t there in the first place!
Anyway, this George Gilbert Scott designed structure (that’s the hotel, not The Spice Girls) is about to go into the next phase of its life as it becomes ‘The Grand Renaissance Hotel’.
This is now a five-star luxury hotel where, I’m pleased to say, much of Scott’s original architecture has been restored or recreated. It has its official opening on May 5th 2011. Exactly 138 years to the day that it first opened its doors in 1873.
One last piece of information that you might find interesting is that ‘The Grand Midland Hotel’, in 1892, saw one ’James Allport arrive in its lobby. He rented a room for the night….. and then promptly breathed his last inside it. Nothing sinister. He died of natural causes.
Anyway, James Allport was the geezer whom through his constant campaigning to raise the standards of those suffering ‘Third-Class’ carriage, ended up killing off ‘third-class’ entirely. Allport caused so much extra work for every railway company that, a few years later, they all thought to themselves, ‘S*d this for a game of soldiers!’ and immediately dumped all their ‘third class’ carriages. From then on, it was ’first’ and ‘second’ class travel only. Good eh?