St. Pancras Station

Soot-blackened St. Pancras Station and Railroad Hotel. Architect: George Gilbert Scott. 1868-77. Photograph 1966 and text by George P. Landow [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]

Compare the restored St. Pancras of 2001 with this soot-blackened façade, which Londoners would have encountered throughout the late-nineteenth century and most of the twentieth. Using wood and coal as a chief source of energy -- the driving force of the industrial revolution -- produced not only the polluted index Ruskin described in "The Storm Cloud of the Nineteenth Century" but threw a funereal pall over the bright, even garish buildings of which the Victorians were so proud.

Do you think most architects envisaged their buildings in their original state, or did they use especially bright colors because they knew pollution would take the edge off the bright contrasting colors? If the second is the case, can one "restore" Victorian buildings by returning them to their original state immediately after consuction? [GPL]


Crook, J. Mordaunt. The Dilemma of Style: Architectural Ideas from the Picturesque to the Post-Modern. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.

Meeks, Carol L. V. The Victorian Railroad Station: An Architectural History. New Haven: Yale UP, 1956.

Last modified 18 July 2001