In June we took a tour of the fabulous St Pancras Renaissance Hotel in London and also the impressive station of St Pancras to explore the wonderful architecture and look for inspiration in search of new designs and ideas for products. Our guide, Mike, took us on the hotel tour, which is open to non residence of the hotel for about an hour and gave us a grand tour.
He explained the architect responsible for the building of the St Pancras was George Gilbert Scott. During the tour it became clear Scott would very much appreciate the castings we make at the Cast Iron Air Brick company as he too was a keen promoter of employing British foundries to make his goods. He loved to show off the products his midlands workers could make to property owners in London, again, something we’re proud to do ourselves today!
Scott was a keen industrialist and revelled in promoting the skills of the craftsmen from the midlands in the materials used for his London designs. He incorporated not just the Quatrefoil design that we use in our “four clover” Quatrefoil channel gratings but also Trefoil and even a “five clover” design rarely seen known as the Pentafoil . The quatrefoil can been seen at the top of the arches in the booking hall (below)
St Pancras was used as a show piece to show the gentry in the capital the splendid brick work, stone carvings and above all cast iron castings that his Birmingham and Derbyshire foundries could make. What is particularly impressive is that Scott used ground breaking design to elevate the entire St Pancras platform. This ensured the hotel entrance aligned perfectly for passengers arriving by carriage yet allowed the train to depart on a slight fall to ensure the departing trains did so without making too much noise or generating too much smoke in the station.
The stunning main staircase featured flamboyant designs so Scott could show off all the skills of his workers and in particular the castings that the midland foundries could produce. In the example above, however, he tricked the guests into believing that the support, underslung along the stairs, was made of cast iron and was used to help support the structure. This support, however, served no structural purpose as the stairs were self supporting and was made of a much lighter material, namely wood. One reason, it is thought that the wood was painted to resemble iron was to help promote the skills of the foundries rather than the skills of the carpenters!
Another ground breaking design that Scott incorporated into the structure was a fire main system to help fire brigades by ensuring the hotel had a huge reservoir of water. The water was collected by channelling water along intricate cast iron gullies and pipes and storing it underneath the building. (above) Cast iron pipes can be seen in the booking office directing the rainwater into hoppers to storage tanks below.