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London Shopping: Coal Drops Yard in King’s Cross

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean
Coal Drops Yard is a retail development that is part of the King’s Cross Central development scheme and is the latest part of the development to use old industrial buildings and adapting them for the 21st century.
© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean
The coal drops were sheds that received coal shipments, mostly from the north of England by train and then were transferred to waiting narrowboats on the Regents Canal and to horse-drawn carts. In the Victorian times, coal was the main form of energy to heat and light the buildings of London.
© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean
The coal drops were built in the mid 19th century and were part of a large industrial complex which included stables for up to 1500 horses. By the end of the 19th century, the coal drops became obsolete and the buildings were used for warehousing. In the last part of the 20th century, some of the disused warehouses were used to stage illegal raves and were used as bars and clubs. By the 21st century, the rave scene had run its course and the warehouses became derelict again.
© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean
As part of the large development of the King’s Cross Central site, Argent group appointed Thomas Heatherwick as architect for the redevelopment of the Coal Drop Yards as a retail park in 2014. Work was completed and the development opened in 2018.
The £100m project converted the listed Victorian sheds into a new high-end, 9,290 sq metre, shopping complex, Thomas Heatherwick developed a way to bring together the two converging arcaded sheds with a ‘kissing roof. The slate used in the roof comes from the same seam in the same Welsh slate quarry as was used in the original roof.
© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean
The retail development has nearly 10000 square metres of shopping space in different size units with a mix of independent shops and global brands from home and abroad. Altogether there are over 50 shops, bars & restaurants in Coal Drop Yards, these include Diesel, Fred Perry, Paul Smith, Wolf & Badger, Barrafina, Le Café Alain Ducasse, Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse, Botanical Boys, Samsung KX, Tom Dixon and much more.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean
What sets this retail development apart is the way that the Victorian industrial buildings give the place character, it seems a world away from the rather soulless shopping centres with the canal adding even more interest. The King’s Cross area has been totally changed in the last 25 years from one of the most depressing parts of the capital to an area full of interest and a welcome diversion to those using the nearby train stations.

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