Stunning photos show how King's Cross has changed in 20 years

How King's Cross has transformed over twenty years.

How King's Cross has transformed over 20 years, from 2001 to 2021. - Credit: London Communications

It was one of the most talked-about regeneration projects of its time and this week it has turned ten years old.

The first building and public space opened at Kings Cross Estate in October 2011, with the development later growing to contain Granary Square, a thriving restaurant and retail hub - which has had 41million visits since 2012. 

Today, the 67-acre site has capacity for 18,000 jobs and supports an annual gross value added of £1.42bn.

The area has 1,120 homes and a further 623 under construction. 

Its management say Kings Cross has outperformed all other ‘London Opportunity Areas’ with jobs increasing 500 per cent over the past decade and the local population growing 141 per cent. 

However, it has not always been this way. Photos from as recently as 2001 show the area looking somewhat shabby and run down, a world away from what can be seen now.

To celebrate the tenth anniversary, King’s Cross will take over its Outside Art Project with a ‘Then & Now’ photography exhibition. 

Coal Drops Yard and the Coal Office, King's Cross

Coal Drops Yard and the Coal Office, King's Cross - Credit: © John Sturrock

Most Read

Robert Evans, chief executive at King’s Cross, said: “Twenty years ago, in July 2001, I and others wrote some ‘Principles for a Human City’ about our approach to King’s Cross. 

“We stated an objective to devise and deliver, over 15 or so years, an exciting and successful mixed-use development; one that will shape a sense, vibrant and distinctive urban quarter, bring local benefits and make a lasting contribution to London. 

The Coal drops after the demolition of the Plimsoll Viaduct, King's Cross

The Coal drops after the demolition of the Plimsoll Viaduct, King's Cross - Credit: © John Sturrock

“King’s Cross should offer an urban exemplar for a sustainable world city. It should be an outstanding place to live, work or just ‘be’. It should make a significant, positive contribution to the economy, equality and the environment.

“Fast forward and the King’s Cross Estate now boasts a world-class university, inspiring businesses, some 2,000 homes, an eclectic range of shops and restaurants, two schools, sport, leisure and community facilities.” 

Gasholders canalside apartments, seen across the Regent's Canal at King's Cross

Gasholders canalside apartments, seen across the Regent's Canal at King's Cross - Credit: © John Sturrock

He added that King’s Cross has established itself as a hub for creative, digital, and knowledge-based businesses - and is home to 2 per cent of all such ventures in London.

The Estate team that looks after the new streets and public spaces also runs a wide range of arts and events programmes, facilitating street food and markets. 

There is also the Handyside indoor sports facility, used by the King’s Cross Academy primary school and others that live and work in the area. 

Looking south across the Milk Dock towards St Pancras station, 1990. 

Looking south across the Milk Dock towards St Pancras station, 1990. - Credit: ©Philip Wolmuth

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said: “King’s Cross is a vibrant area with a distinct character and lots of energy. 

“In the past ten years, it has completely transformed into not only a key office district for London, but a thriving residential neighbourhood. 

Spring sunlight reflected off the windows of pancras Square, King's Cross

Spring sunlight reflected off the windows of pancras Square, King's Cross - Credit: © John Sturrock

“The urban regeneration of King’s Cross is a prime example of just the kind of innovation that will help encourage Londoners and domestic and international tourists back into the centre of our city and support our economic recovery from this devastating pandemic.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter