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Full Steam Ahead

Episode 4 of 4

Documentary looking at how English Heritage battled to preserve the historical features of London's King's Cross station during its development.

The restoration of London's King's Cross, its station and the adjacent goods yard is the biggest infrastructure project in Europe - King's Cross is a Grade I listed building of lasting historical importance. So nothing can be done at King's Cross without the say-so of one woman, case officer Clare Brady, English Heritage's sole representative to the huge teams of architects and engineers marshalled by Network Rail and developer Argent.

The programme chronicles the battle of wills between Clare and the two men driving their respective developments forward: property magnate Roger Madelin, chief executive of Argent, and Network Rail's architect John McAslan. But this is about more than a battle of wills, it is also about Britain's national identity, and whether to side with history, as Clare tries to preserve some fragments of the place's historic past, or to plump for progress, as both men passionately argue for sleek modernity.

At the station, John McAslan's design causes conflict - English Heritage want to expose some 19th-century cast-iron brackets, McAlsan disagrees. For a year, English Heritage block the redesign of the booking hall, and reject McAslan's sleek iron bridge.

At the goods yard, things start well as Argent persuade English Heritage to allow them to knock down a Victorian apartment block. But then the arguments start - turntables that English Heritage want preserved, vast LED screens that they reject.

Eventually, faced with punishing deadlines, both Argent and Network Rail relent, and English Heritage win the day.

1 hour

Last on

Sun 22 Aug 2010 20:00

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