Digging up the past

  • Date created: 11 April 2011
  • News Type:
  • News
A view of the Somers Town Goods Yard and St Pancras from south of the Euston Road.

A view of the Somers Town Goods Yard and St Pancras from south of the Euston Road.

- National Railway Museum/ Science and Society.

Archaeologists from the Museum of London are working hard at the site of the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation to gather more information about the industrial history of the area.

The archaeological exploration is taking place ahead of construction of UKCMRI. Before building commences archaeologists are excavating the site to unravel its rich industrial history.

There are public open days for visitors to see the dig in full swing. There will be a chance to speak to the archaeologists about their work and what has been discovered. Objects from the dig will be on display and childen will get the chance to don a hardhat and try their hand at digging.

Before the goods yard was constructed in 1887 the land was occupied by slum housing. In its time, the goods yard played an important role in the everyday lives of Londoners.

By 1874, the Midland Railway Company had run out of space at St Pancras Goods yard and it expanded into the area south of Brill Place. 4,000 homes were demolished and 10,000 people were relocated to make way for the goods yard.

Part of the goods yard that is being excavated contained a shed for unloading fresh milk and fish.

The goods yard had rails on two levels. Trains came into the yard on a viaduct over the eastern end of Brill Place. The rails then divided into more than 30 branches and entered the large goods sheds to be unloaded.

Food traders rented offices and storerooms on the lower level of the site

It was a massive centre for the distribution of fresh products, such as milk and fish. The goods were brought into London by train, early each morning, from the countryside in the east of England and the Midlands. The yard was heavily bombed in the Second World War and eventually demolished in the 1950s and 1960s.

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