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Great London Sculptures: John Betjeman Statue by Martin Jennings at St Pancras Railway Station

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The statue of John Betjeman at St Pancras railway station by the sculptor Martin Jennings was unveiled in 2007 celebrate the connection between St Pancras station and Betjeman.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The poet John Betjeman was supporter of Victorian architecture and was one of the leading lights to protect important Victorian buildings. After the destruction of the Euston Arch in 1961, Betjeman led the campaign to save St Pancras which was under threat from plans to demolish St Pancras Station, the Midland Hotel and King’s Cross station. The campaign led to St Pancras receiving Grade I listed building status for the station and hotel in 1967 which led to its survival.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

During the late 20th century and early 21st century, St Pancras was renovated in a multi-million pound restoration and the station is considered one of the great railway stations in the world. During the restoration, plans were made to create a statue of John Betjeman by the sculptor Martin Jennings.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The statue of Betjeman is made of bronze and is larger than life-size being 8.5ft and shows the poet in a suit, mackintosh and trilby hat. The poet holds his hat as he gazes up at the beloved roof of the station. The statue stands on Cumbrian slate which has words from some of Betjeman’s poems.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The text reads: “And in the shadowless unclouded glare, Deep blue above us fades to whiteness where, A misty sealine meets the wash of air. / John Betjeman, 1906 – 1984, poet, who saved this glorious station”.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Since its unveiling, the statue has become a popular attraction in its own right which many consider a worthy tribute to the well loved poet and his fight to save the station.

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
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Book Review : London, The Weekends Start Here – Fifty-two Weekends of Things to See and Do by Tom Jones (Virgin Books)

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London, The Weekends Start Here: Fifty-two Weekends of Things to See and Do is the third book by Tom Jones. His two previous best-selling books, Tired of London, Tired of Life and Mad Dogs and Englishmen were inspired by his popular website entitled Tired of London, Tired of Life.

As the author points out, it is often at the weekend that the city really comes alive and to make the most of our free time, the book offers a wide range of cultural, artistic, historical and outdoor experiences.  London, The Weekends Start Here offers 52 themed weekends, organised by season, with over 250 interesting  entries for unusual and surprising attractions.

Many of the themed weekends celebrate London’s position as a global city which attracts residents and visitors from all over the world. Therefore you can explore American London, Japanese London, French London, Russian and East European London, Immigrant London, Italian London, Nordic London and discover the many contributions these groups have made and continue to make to the London story. If these particular groups are associated with London, so are individuals such as William Morris, Charles Dickens and John Betjeman who merit a section on their own.

You can discover different aspects of London History by following the guides on Wartime London, Pirates’ London, Revolutionary London, Political London and Ancient London. The book takes you away from the usual tourist spots of London by providing guides to the Countryside of Croydon, The Back Roads of Bexley and Bromley, Along the River Lea and the Highlights of Hackney.
London is famous for its cultural attractions and on your themed weekends you can discover Artistic London, Poets’ London, Musical London and Scientific London.

One of the attractions of the book is that each themed weekend offers a great deal of variety, if you explore Scientific London, suggestions include a visit to the Science Museum, Attend a lecture at the Royal Society, See the Broad Street Pump, Drink at the Devereux, Visit the Home of Time, Climb an Experimental Lighthouse and explore the Wellcome Collection.

There are over 250 interesting entries which offers a short description of the attraction with information about location and transport.  Also dotted throughout the book are a number of weekend tips including suggestions of the best places to eat and drink.

Many books about London offer a large array of attractions to visit, however the main attraction of London, The Weekends Start Here is that it applies a certain amount of logic to the enterprise. Rather than keeping you to a particular location, different themes can take you all over London following a particular interest. Alternatively if you do not wish to follow a particular theme, the book offers over 250 intriguing places to visit within the confines of the capital.

This well designed and informative book really does have something for everyone, whether you are a Londoner or a visitor. The weekend is a great time to explore London’s large number of attractions and even the most ardent lovers of London will find that the author has provided a number of unusual and relatively unknown attractions to explore.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

If you would like to find out more about the book or buy a copy, visit the Virgin Books website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch , we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

The Romance of St Pancras Railway Station

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For the traveller walking into St Pancras International Station, they would look around and consider it a masterpiece of Railway Station design, however this disguises a rather chequered past.

St Pancras was considered one of finest of the “new” London station built in the Victorian age, the train shed, completed in 1868 by the engineer William Henry Barlow, was the largest single-span structure built in the world at that time. The front of the station was taken up by the Midland Grand Hotel, designed by George Gilbert Scott, an illustrious example of Victorian Gothic architecture.

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Product of the boom in railways in the 19th century it was in the 20th century that problems began to appear, the merger of a number of railway companies meant that Euston became the main London terminus serving the Midlands and the North. By 1935 The Midland Grand Hotel was closed and used for offices and during the Second World War bombing damaged the famous train shed.

By the 1960s St Pancras was seen as surplus to requirements for the now state owned British Railways and plans were made to demolish the station and the former Hotel.
These plans provoked strong and successful opposition, with the campaign led by the later Poet Laureate, John Betjeman.

The completion of Channel Tunnel held out hope that St Pancras would become the Eurostar terminus in London, the go ahead for this plan led to one of the largest renovations of a railway complex in the UK, costing an estimated 800 million pounds the station and the former hotel were dramatically restored to or even surpassed their former glory and now included upmarket shopping areas.

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Walking through the Gothic masterpiece now called St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel, the visitors are faced with a nearly 30 feet bronze statue called The Meeting Place  by Paul Day, the statue tries to depict the romance of the  railway station but in reality the romance is in the incredible restored Train shed roof and the wonderfully placed statue of Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman gazing at the roof which he helped to save.

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Strangely as you walk along the platform, the huge Paul Day statue disappears below the station clock and the smell of the Eurostar trains takeover, perhaps not the romance of steam trains but a nod back to the glory days of the elegance of the Orient express.

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To show how far the station has come,people not even travelling come into the station to use the bars, cafes and shops or gaze at the amazing roof.

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If you are a visitor in the area, take a short detour into one of London’s finest railway stations and breathe in the romance of train travel.

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