The Venue

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The venue chosen by UNA for their launch is the St Pancras Clock Tower, part of St Pancras Chambers, the name given by British Rail to the building formerly known as the Midland Grand Hotel. The building was originally constructed between 1868 and 1873 as the flagship hotel for the Midland Railway Company. Designed by the architect George Gilbert Scott as the accompaniment to the railway station shed by Henry Barlow, the hotel operated only until 1935 before being turned into railway offices and allowed to enter a general state of degradation. On the very top of the Tower, stands the statue of Britannia, the only statue on the building. Curiously, stone niches adorn the rest of the building, appearing to await the addition of dozens of missing statues, abandoned as part of the railway’s cost-cutting measures.


The building is one of the most lasting memorials to the architect George Gilbert Scott, famous for his enthusiasm for the style known as Victorian Gothic. Scott won the competition run by the railway company in 1866, even though his design was the largest and most expensive submitted. His original plans for an even taller building had to be revised by the removal of one floor to save costs as the railway company struggled to finance it. Work began on the building in 1868 and the original cost of £315,000 quickly escalated. As a result, many ornamental finishes to the Hotel’s exterior were left unfinished. To this day, visitors can see the empty plinths where statues were originally planned. Despite trimming costs, the final bill still rose to £438,000.

The first paying guests checked into the hotel on 5th May 1873 and the directors of Midland Railway finally had what they wanted: The grandest and most spectacular railway station in the country. St Pancras International has been voted one of London’s favourite landmarks and has a rich and colourful history.