Urban re-inventions #2: London’s Coal Drops Yard hits its one-year-old mark

Hello Coal Drops!

Earlier in November, we at Madeleine’s finally made it to Coal Drops Yard.  And yes, it’s about 5 mins’ walk from London’s Kings Cross station.

The area around Kings Cross used to be quite seedy (and was certainly the dodgiest bit of the city that was inside Zone 1), but it has “cleaned up” a lot since the 1980s and 1990s, with the arrival of the British Library here in 1997 followed by opening of the Eurostar terminal at St Pancras (next door to Kings Cross) in 2007, and then the Wellcome Collection, Central Saint Martins and the Francis Crick Institute all “turned up”.

The latest, Coal Drops Yard, is loved by us for it is literally where coal used to be “dropped” (and stored and distributed across London) during Victorian times.  

You can still see some of the remnants of an age when coal and slate were brought here from the north: latticed iron brackets holding up nothing but air, like pointing arms, and freight depot numbers.  There is certainly character here.

But of course the redevelopment has to come with a make-over involving shops in between the arches underneath the viaduct.  It also comes with a contemporary stylish touch in the form of wonderful colour-changing fountains in nearby Granary Square – 1,080 individually-controlled, lit and choreographed jets – as well as much green turfs for sitting and lazing around.

There are things to discover, with the nearby House of Illustration (at 2 Granary Square) making it to the National Geographic’s list of great things to do, the Blackhorse Lane Ateliers hosting electrical repair sessions, and the Tom Dixon-led restaurant called Coal Place (no prize for guessing what it used to be) one amongst a number of interesting eateries, while you can also gawk at the nearby GasHolders, a trio of Victorian gasholder frames that have been converted into luxury apartments with views over Regents Canal.  

CN Traveller cooed that “Coal Drops Yard is a place you could stay in all day“.  

For other urban re-inventions around the world, this is something we will be posting about over the next few months and you can read one of our first posts here.