Friday, 26 October 2012

Goods station and offices, St Pancras

Here is a ghost sign that almost made it to the cinemas in 1967! Almost because the camera only caught the lower part of the sign, first when Frank jumps out of a car being chased by the police following the robbery of some diamonds, and second when the police car passes under the railway tracks leading to St Pancras a couple of seconds later. This happens in Robbery, a movie loosely based on the Great Train Robbery (the sign first appears at 0:14:19).

On the picture below, underneath the main ghost sign, a dark blue-ish rectangle can be seen. By now it has deteriorated so much it is impossible to make anything out of it. However that's the part that appeared in the movie and one could clearly read:

I haven't found what this sign referred to.

Of the ghost sign visible nowadays only a tiny part can be seen in the movie. However upon close examination, it appears that what is in the movie and what can still be read today don't match. In the film, even though the first word on the last line is truncated, it clearly starts with a 'A' and that doesn't fit at all with 'Offices.' This indicates that in the 1960s another sign, with white letters on a crimson background, covered the ghost sign I photographed.

LMS [?]

I am not absolutely sure of what was written on the first line, with the exception of the 'S' at the end. Since the rest of the ghost sign clearly refers to railway facilities, it can be assumed it would be the name or rather initials of the company. In that's case the only one that would fit is the London, Midland and Scottish or LMS.

On 1 January 1923 the London and North Western, the Midland, the North Staffordshire, and the Furness Railways in England, and the Caledonian, Glasgow and South Western, and Highland Railways in Scotland merged to form the LMS. In London the LMS operated out of two terminals, Euston and St Pancras. Built by the Midland Railway, St Pancras was a vast complex that included not only the famous passenger station but also the large Somers Town Goods Depot (demolished to make way for the new British Library) and many yards and sidings (an aerial picture taken in 1957 gives an idea of the omnipresence of the railways in that part of London). Together with the other three railway companies operating in Britain, the LMS was nationalised in 1948 and became the Midland Region and part of the Scottish Region of British Railways. Following the nationalisation, it is very likely the original LMS sign was altered if not, as the movie shows, completely painted over by a new one. Therefore, if 'LMS' is really what was written, this sign was painted between 1923 and 1947.

The only intriguing thing about this is that if this ghost sign pointed to Somers Town goods station, then it sent drivers on a bit of a journey round the neighbourhood. Unless there was some kind of one-way traffic or a specific route for lorries?

Location: Camley Street / Picture taken in August 2008

No comments: