Sunday, May 27, 2012

St Pancras Station, John Betjeman Statue

Jean and I at St Pancras station, built 1868 in the neo-Gothic style and designed by George Gilbert.

We have been friends since I was single and Jean a young married woman.  We walked to the train station from her house in a squall, hence the rain coat and caught the train up to London, off peak time.  After getting off the train we took the Underground to St Pancras.  Jean should be a London tour guide because she had our whole day mapped out for us and what a lovely day it was.  And the weather was all over the map a true April.

More to come.


Betjeman's daughter unveils St Pancras tribute

 Charlotte Higgins,  The Guardian
A sense of wonder ... Martin Jennings' statue of John Betjeman. Photograph: Felix Clay
Hand clutched to his hat, coat-tails caught by a gust of wind, John Betjeman gazes up at the magnificent arch of St Pancras station's freshly restored train shed.

Or at least does his likeness, cast in bronze by sculptor Martin Jennings and unveiled yesterday by the poet's daughter, Candida Lycett Green. From tomorrow, when Eurostar's service begins, alighting passengers will pass this image of the writer, lost in wonder at the power of William Henry Barlow's feat of engineering.

Betjeman was one of the most energetic figures who, in the 1960s, fought the destruction of St Pancras - mercifully unthinkable today, now that public taste has softened towards George Gilbert Scott's marvellously elaborate neo-Gothic station buildings and old Midland Grand Hotel. "He didn't save it singlehandedly, but it certainly wouldn't have happened without him," said Andrew Motion, one of Betjeman's successors as poet laureate.

"Louis MacNeice once called Betjeman a triumphant misfit. But the things he was regarded as eccentric for admiring during his lifetime are the things that we have learned to hold dear," he added. "What he did as a saviour of 19th-century architecture is extraordinary."

Jennings said of his sculpture: "All my choices were led by the station. What Betjeman is doing in the statue is what we all do - we look up, with an intake of breath. I have shown him as if he has walked in for the first time since the station was saved." Jennings worked from photographs and film footage of Betjeman, and was "nudged" in the right direction by Betjeman's family, in particular Lycett Green. She said: "He has captured his sense of wonder on first walking into a great man-made space such as a cathedral ... He always looked up at the roof - and in St Pancras more than anywhere. It is, after all, the greatest station roof on earth, isn't it?"

Around the base of the statue are carved lines from Betjeman poems, chosen by Jennings, including: "Here where the cliffs alone prevail. I stand exultant, neutral, free,/ And from the cushion of the gale. Behold a huge consoling sea."


  1. What a wonderful statue Christy and it's nice to see photo's of you and your friend. Thank heavens for people like this fellow who tried to save this place. How boring it would be if they tore all the old wonderful buildings down and rebuilt with the shapeless buildings they build now-a-days! Enjoy your day.
    Maura :)

  2. I love that statue and you've caught it beautifully. You could be the London tour guide's assistant with all the interesting facts about the sights! I can't believe we were so wrapped up only a few weeks ago and now we are roasting.


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