Recalling the bloody battle to bring life to King’s Cross

Gillian Darley index

Gillian Darley assesses the decades-long redevelopment against its hard-won environmental goals

When I first lived close to King’s Cross, the Regent’s Canal and London Wildlife Trust’s Camley Street Natural Park were almost the only reminders in this part of town of that famously green London, so admired from home and abroad.

Regent’s Park to the west seemed another universe. Flourishing Camden Town was an intermediate zone of pulsing commercial life leading – if you walked the canal banks as I often did – towards the railway marshalling yards at the back of the termini, a vast no-man’s zone of extremely brown land and dereliction.

Only by walking could you begin to piece it together, especially that magical zone of the empty gasholders, the lock (and lock-keeper’s cottage) and the rest of the canal, with its own purposeful air of a community slightly apart – reassuring evidence that London was really multifarious.

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