urban75 blog

Kings Cross Lighthouse continues to rot away

Still empty, derelict and slowly rotting away is this remarkable building adjacent to Kings Cross railway station, known locally as the King’s Cross Lighthouse

It’s been lying empty for a very long time, and there’s still some debate as to what the Grade II listed building’s original function was.

Here’s some snippets from an article I wrote in October 2007:

The story is that the building originally served as an oyster house – oysters being the fast food of the day – with eateries often being marked by a lighthouses, much like McDonalds (spit!) uses the familiar Golden Arches to catch the eye of hungry punters.

Thing is, if the lighthouse motif was used as a commonly recognisable symbol for snack-seekers, how come no others survive?

In ‘Eccentric Britain’, by Benedict le Vay, the author comments about the structure: “Some claim it was once a helter-skelter tower but it would have been impossibly, and improbably, moved up there.

Inspections of the interior, say Camden Council, show that it can’t have been a clocktower or a camera obscura. Obscurer are its origins indeed, and maybe it was a totally useless architectural flourish.”


Street level view. The shops have been closed for years on end.

Back in early 2009, Latitude Architects won planning permission from Camden Council for a £13 million internal reconstruction of the building, with  developers UK Real Estate, Latitude and The London Planning Practice reported to be in negotiation with English Heritage and Camden Council.

Sadly, nothing seems to have moved forward in the subsequent two years.


The tower’s condition gets worse every year and there seems to be no ongoing  effort to halt the deterioration of the structure.

Quite how such a local landmark got in this state is anyone’s guess, but allowing it to carry on rotting away is nothing short of criminal.

View of the lighthouse from outside Kings Cross railway station.

Detail of the attractive architecture.

It’s been a long time since Jim served up a portion of chips.

Empty shops along Gray’s Inn Road.

The legendary Mole Jazz record store was located here before moving further up the road (to number 311) before closing for good in November 2005.

The old shop sign lives on!


This hand-painted sign for ‘Dress Wright’ looks very old.

Shop door detail.

Looking up to the lighthouse.

The ’01’ prefix of this ticket agent’s sign suggests that the business closed around 1990 when the dialling codes changed.

Pentonville Road view showing the fine architectural detail of the building.

Looking along Pentonville Road along to Kings Cross. To the right is the gothic tower of St Pancras railway station.

The gothic spires of St Pancras in the distance.

The cupola roof looks to be irreparably damaged.

A last look at the derelict tower.

More info:

Feature on the ‘Oysterhouse Lighthouse’

Discuss the Lighthouse on our bulletin boards

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