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.
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:
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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?