St Pancras Station
DescriptionSt Pancras Station needed a renovation over two storeys including repointing of bricks and stone arches, the new red brick facade has been termed 21st century Gothic by lead architect Alastair Lansley. Historic buildings consultant Roderick Shelton, who detailed the new facade, explains: ‘It’s primarily a replica of what was there originally and occupies the same footprint but has been tweaked to account for subtle changes arising out of the station’s new functions.’ Structurally self-supporting, the 152m long facade is tied to the station’s steel structure for transference of wind loads. Up to 14.5m above pavement level at its highest point, the facade is strengthened by brick/stone piers that vary in thickness from 690mm to 1370mm. Although some are hollow to accommodate rainwater pipes, the masonry is generally solid to resist the steel arch thrusts.
Trying to match the existing brickwork proved tricky as the original bricks were no longer available. But despite some inevitable compromises, the finished result is extraordinary in terms of architectural continuity and quality. Clearly, both the bricks and the craftsmen were found.All bricks on the project were handmade. In keeping with the Victorian originals, the half a million facing bricks were ‘thrown’ sideways to give a frog on both sides. This helps laying the bricks, particularly given the relatively thin 5mm joints that were used. In addition, a double frog can provide extra key for the mortar. Other than where the new facade abuts the existing building, the use of hydraulic lime mortar has removed the need for movement joints in the facade. Creating the Gothic arches required 20,000 ‘red rubber’ bricks in 45 different shapes, each numbered individually to ensure correct assembly. These were laid with fine 2mm joints using a pure, sand-free lime putty. Many of those who have seen the finished project have been impressed by the excellent workmanship. This is a credit to the skill of the 30 bricklayers and eight stonemasons who carried out the work.