Let’s move to

The Guardian - Weekend - - Contents -

King’s Cross, Lon­don: from seamy to swanky

What’s go­ing for it? Of all the re­mark­able trans­for­ma­tions in su­per­gen­tri­fied Lon­don, that of King’s Cross is the most as­ton­ish­ing. I can just re­mem­ber what it was, dim mem­o­ries of jig­ging at its ware­house clubs in the 90s. Be­fore my time, there’s al­ways Mona Lisa (the film) and re­runs of The Sweeney to recre­ate the area’s pros­ti­tu­tion and dark­ness, its drip­ping rail­way arches and en­crusted ten­e­ments. Rail­way sta­tions used to blight ar­eas, their com­ings and go­ings at­tract­ing the kind of un­trust­wor­thy spivs who ter­rorise the older women in The Ladykillers. Nowa­days they’re “hubs”, their sleek bars and delis paused in by com­muters off to Pot­ters Bar, their lux­ury apart­ments paused in by tech mil­lion­aires off to Sin­ga­pore. We all come and go these days. Frag­ments of a less salu­bri­ous past, though, re­main, hold­ing on for dear life amid the swank, like Hous­man’s rad­i­cal book­shop and the glo­ri­ous Cam­ley Street na­ture re­serve, of­fer­ing al­ter­na­tive utopias had his­tory here taken a dif­fer­ent path.

The case against The thun­der­ing traf­fic and chok­ing pol­lu­tion of Eus­ton and Pen­tonville roads. When Google’s HQ is fin­ished, ex­pect the neigh­bour­hood’s trans­for­ma­tion to be com­plete. Eye­wa­ter­ingly ex­pen­sive, mostly. Well con­nected? Are you kid­ding? It’s a hub! Two rail sta­tions, the Eurostar ter­mi­nal and the tube has the Pic­cadilly, Vic­to­ria, Cir­cle, Metropoli­tan, Ham­mer­smith & City and North­ern lines pass­ing through. Driv­ing: I wouldn’t.

Schools Pri­maries: the new King’s Cross Academy has not been in­spected yet; Edith Neville, St Aloy­sius Catholic, Ar­gyle, Win­ton, Copen­hagen and Blessed Sacra­ment RC are all “good”, says Of­sted, with St Mary & St Pan­cras CofE “out­stand­ing”. Se­con­daries: Re­gent High and Maria Fidelis RC are “good”, with El­iz­a­beth Gar­rett An­der­son (girls) “out­stand­ing”.

Hang out at… Al­most en­tirely com­posed of hang­outs. Fol­low the fash­ion cat­walk up to Cen­tral St Martins for “posh chains”, like Vinoteca, Dishoom and Car­a­van, and, come Oc­to­ber, “bou­tique” shop­ping mall Coal Drops Yard.

Where to live His­tor­i­cally a cross­roads over the river Fleet, it’s hardly a place at all, most of “King’s Cross” be­ing nicked from neigh­bours such as Somers Town and Barns­bury. The smart new de­vel­op­ment of ex­pen­sive apart­ment blocks be­hind the sta­tion has cre­ated a kind of iden­tity. Else­where it’s a mix of its neigh­bours’ coun­cil es­tates, Geor­gian, Re­gency or Vic­to­rian town­houses and oc­ca­sional man­sion blocks. Large town­houses, £1.5m-£4m. Smaller town­houses and ter­races, £900,000-£1.5m. Flats: three bed­rooms, £550,000-£3m; two bed­rooms, £450,000-£2.5m; one bed­room, £325,000-£1m. Rentals: a one-bed­room flat, £1,100-£3,000pcm; a three-bed­room flat, £2,000-£4,000pcm.

Bar­gain of the week Three-bed­room ex-coun­cil maisonette, £525,000, with fox­tons.co.uk

Tom Dy­ck­hoff

Live in Ip­swich? Have a favourite haunt or pet hate? If so, email lets.move@the­guardian.com by next Tues­day.

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