Connections with steam

Rossa writes on some interesting interconnections:

When writing my recent posts I certainly didn’t expect to come across a connection between Alpacas, the Tornado steam train, the Midland Grand Hotel, a red telephone box and the village of Saltaire. It just goes to prove that all things are inter-connected.

So what is the connection? The Midland railway line as it was known then ran through Saltaire and would have been used to transport the Alpaca cloth from Salt’s Mill to London, probably on a train pulled by an engine similar to the Tornado. The Midland railway terminated at St Pancras where today the iconic Midland Grand Hotel is being completely refurbished.

And the red telephone box. Where does that fit in? Well the designer of the icon seen on many a street in this country was Giles Gilbert Scott who was the grandson of Sir George Gilbert Scott the architect of the Midland Grand Hotel, which was built as the frontage to St Pancras station, on the Euston Road, between 1866 – 1873.

And there is another connection with steam. I have been watching the series on television called “Climbing Great Buildings”. And the one I watched the other night featured the Midland Grand Hotel and this is some of what Dr Jonathan Foyle, the architectural historian had to say.

“The Hotel opened in 1873 and harnessed the technology of the railways by using steam in the ultra modern central heating system, vast laundry, and appliances in what was then Britain’s most expensive kitchen. Steam even powered the electric bells in the rooms for those summoning room service.

Despite this cutting edge technology the Hotel had one major flaw. By the start of the 20th century guests expected certain standards of cleanliness. But there were only 8 communal bathrooms to service over 400 people which wouldn’t wash with its demanding clientele. And the fireproof floors were too solid to install plumbing for en-suite bathrooms.

The Hotel’s design proved to be its downfall and it ceased being a Hotel in 1935 when it was turned into offices for the London-Midland-Scotland Railway and subsequently for British Rail.”

And so the age of steam was slowly coming to an end.


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2 comments for “Connections with steam

  1. October 5, 2010 at 20:56

    I find that fascinating, Rossa. And this:

    “which wouldn’t wash with its demanding clientele”

  2. Rossa
    October 6, 2010 at 06:32

    Unfortunately not my pun James. Dr Foyle said that in his commentary. Still fun though.

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