Harry Potter open for business at King’s Cross.

That Harry Potter’s opened a store for muggles right by Platform 9 3/4. They got that Warwick Davies to open it. Ribbons, speeches, geeky fans, the lot!

This opened 2 weeks ago and I didn’t even notice. I pass through King’s Cross twice a day and still haven’t spotted the store.

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What I DID spot this morning was that the customary Harry Potter luggage trolley had changed. Like its predecessor, it’s embedded in the wall, making it a super photo op for tourists and/or Harry Potter fans.

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However, the new trolley sports some rugged old leather suitcases and half a birdcage. Is this for the owl? Sadly there isn’t half an owl embedded in the wall to establish this.

This is the 3rd location for the trolley. It used to be tucked away outside Platforms 9, 10 and 11, then they tucked it away by Platform 8 before moving it to its current position. Nice to see they’ve made an effort to Hogwartify the trolley. Before it was just a bog standard First Capital Connect one that got vandalised from time to time.

The map online puts the Harry Potter shop right next door to the trolley, so how come I didn’t spot it?

No idea, but the shop is a very good idea – heavy tourist traffic, excellent transport connections and highly relevant to the film (ignoring the fact that they actually used the more cinematic St Pancras next door for the films).

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King’s Cross 2.0

After a very long wait, the day has arrived and I couldn’t let it pass without comment.

The covers are off the new ‘Western Departures Concourse’ and it looks great – a massive leap forward for King’s Cross.

The weird thing was seeing people wandering about the place as though it had been like this all the time – made me feel a bit like I was late to the party.

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Courtesy of @floheiss (BIG shout out!)

I don’t know what I was expecting really. It’s like Christmas. The wait is the thing. The day arrives and you go, “Oh yeah, no biggie.”

I did treat myself to a ride down the new escalator – and to be fair, it shaves a good 30 seconds of my commute to the Tube. Progress!

They were handing out maps so people could find their way around the new layout – saves them gathering up the 40 or so strays at the end of the day and shipping them home with a note.

You are here.

A Paperchase and a Boots – could prove priceless. And I haven’t even checked out the Parcel Yard yet. So much to explore! But I’ve got to get home/to work…

Here it is at night: concourse of the future!

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The big reveal: set for March 19, 2012.

Hot off the Twitter press, the powers that be are saying the hoardings come down on March 19.

Very exciting for everyone, not just us commuters that get diverted a slightly different way every day as they lay the flooring bit by bit.

And what does this vision of the future look like? A bit like this:

It's all hover boards and retina scans from here on in.

I especially like the woman on the far right wiping dog shit off her shoe – click to enlarge it and you’ll see what I mean.

Craving more info? Click below for the lowdown, including this bombshell, “…the current concourse will be demolished revealing for the first time in decades the Grade I listed Victorian façade which has been fully restored to its former glory.”

King’s Cross official announcement >

King’s Cross passengers offered a glimpse into the future >

Want more piccies? here you go:

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The secret escalator at King’s Cross.

As I’ve posted once or twice, the new look King’s Cross draws ever nearer. We get glimpses of new bits, then curiously they erect tarpaulins to keep it from us. As Patrick Stewart said in Extras, “It’s too late of course, because I’ve seen everything.”

One corner that’s been forgotten about is in the Northern ticket hall. Away from the ticket machines, booths and barriers there’s a section, er…sectioned off by hoardings the same colour as the surrounding walls. Closer inspection reveals a notice pertaining to escalators. Take it from me, dear reader, this corner will soon blossom into our escalator up to the brand new concourse – our stairway to heaven/hell (depending on how the trains are that day).

One view.

So, here is your ‘before’ photo and in another post after the big reveal, I shall share the ‘after with you.

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Another view.

King’s Cross: getting closer all the time.

King’s Cross is getting closer and closer to completion as the days go by (you’d hope). I’ve touched on it before and over the Christmas period they revealed even more to us. You could get a  glimpse of their new ticket hall from different vantage points. Any day now I’m expecting to see the hoardings fall away to reveal the full monty. Well, the briefest of Googles offers us this thrilling insider shot of the new ticket hall. If you’ve ever wanted to see it filled with rail workers in Santa hats, hold on to your trousers because your wish just came true!

The new ticket hall (1000 Santas not included).

And here’s a quote from the press release:

“Over 600 people – from engineers, electricians and builders to carpenters, stone masons and abseilers – who are working to transform King’s Cross station got into the festive spirit today to celebrate the end of major construction work on the new western concourse. The new concourse is the stand-out feature of the £500m redevelopment of King’s Cross to make it into a world-class transport hub. The striking domed roof covers an area three-times the size of the existing concourse and big enough to fit over six Olympic-sized swimming pools. As well as providing a brighter, more spacious station, it will contain a wide range of new food and drink outlets and shops, plus improved facilities which will improve the journey experience for passengers.”

King’s Cross, Platform 0.

Wow, this is better than Harry Potter. I’m at King’s Cross waiting for the platform announcement for my train home. On the big screen, the number comes up. O. Zero? That’s not an 8 is it?. Nope, that platform’s already taken. Platform zero? Not a 10 with a faulty display? Clearly not. As soon as the platform’s announced the waiting commuters stream over to the far side of the station. And there it is – just to the right of Platform 1, out of nowhere, Platform O.

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Just like I said, a little to the right of Platform 1...

Now King’s Cross is also home to Platform 9¾ where Harry Potter and his chums take the train to Hogwarts. Never mind the fact that those scenes were filmed in the more cinematic St Pancras next door; for the benefit of tourists, they’ve set up a photo-op in a quiet corner. They have a wall with a baggage trolley embedded in it so that people can pose for a photo, looking as though they’re magically leaving the muggle world behind.

Visual ratification of the above.

Anyway, my immediate thought is, ‘is there room for a Platform Minus 1?’ Not really, or you’d be catching a train from the middle of York Way.

All change at King’s Cross.

I must confess, I got lost at King’s Cross this morning. I felt a bit like a tourist. The sort that stops suddenly in front of people and then turns 180 degrees, ploughing through the masses against the tide.

Why? Because they’ve just changed the layout and opened the new Northern ticket hall. They’ve been working on it for months and now they’ve drawn back the mysterious veil and, er… unveiled the new entrance to the Underground.

I give you... the Northern ticket hall.

They actually opened it all up on Sunday, but I hadn’t noticed until this morning. I probably doubled back on myself a tad but even so, it seemed like I had to walk MILES through brand new Star Wars-style labyrinths just to reach the Victoria Line. Just when I thought I was nearly there, I’d turn a corner and discover a new set

Death Star meets Transport for London.

So if anyone else has struggled with the new layout and your Google search has led you here, I have some good news – here’s a map to help you find your way:

Click to see a bigger version.

I’m going to experiment getting in and out using the new layout. I’ve already identified where I went wrong, so I’ve got some work to do. I need to make it as indoors as possible as the temperature has plummeted in recent days.  Still, it looks like the end of being locked outside by TFL staff when it gets busy. Saints be praised.

Debut in Southgate.

I was running later than usual this morning, but not by much. I thought Swingate might have pushing it so the sensible option was Danesgate. Except it wasn’t. I was greeted by those 4 red letters no Stevenage parker wants to see: FULL.

That left me 2 options:
1. The multi-storey which has literally over 1000 spaces which I’ve used once before.
2. Southgate, an unknown quantity for me.

Well I’ve stolen my own thunder in the title so you can be forgiven for not being on the edge of your seat (just this once!).

I really didn’t fancy the multi-storey again. It’s completely empty in the morning and again at night. You can imagine either a bullet-ridden car chase bursting onto the scene or a hip hop promo featuring honeys, 4×4’s with blacked out windows and fancy rims.

It’s everyone’s last resort. It even features on YouTube alongside a chap threatening to end it all. It’s that sort of place.

The upshot is that driving to Southgate and walking back to the station delays me enough to miss my train. There is an upside to this, however. The next train is slower but I can invariably get a seat which is definitely not the case with the 8.08. And satisfying the completist in me, I have now parked in all 5 car parks that my pass gives me access to. I’ve collected the set!

All that excitement and I’ve not even made it to London yet!

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