A few years ago, I was approached by a lovely man called Nick Stanhope of Shift, a social enterprise that works out of Clerkenwell, to provide a bit of seed funding to encourage some more significant funding for a project based around the King’s Cross area.
The buildings at King’s Cross are there for all to see, including some fantastic Victorian structures with beautiful brickwork renovated and recycled as restaurants, shops, offices and (in the case of the Granary Building) the University of the Arts London which includes the world-famous St Martin’s Art School.
The offer was too good to miss, especially as a Camden Tour Guide I have a great emotional connection to King’s Cross, going back to the days when my father used to take me to Somers Town goods yard in the middle of the last century to watch the little tank engines shunting up and down there. The British Library now covers the site.
So as a result of some vital but modest funding by way of sponsorship, Lyndales got itself involved together with the Lottery Heritage and Google, and out of it came the King’s Cross Story Palace (www.storypalace.org). The idea is to tell stories about the people who have lived and worked in King’s Cross over the last 40-50 years and, as is the way with people, it is a story which if not told, by those who directly know the area, we will lose forever. Partly, the project is a joint fund by HistoryPin (part of Shift) and Building Exploratory, a local charity which is also based in Clerkenwell and works closely with local groups to engage creatively in changes to the build environment taking place in their community).
More than 200 stories have been collected and last week, I was one of the speakers with Nick and Patrick Develin, an architect and trustee of Building Exploratory, asked to speak at an event at Camden’s offices in St Pancras Square.
It was a great opportunity to talk a little bit about Lyndales and my connections with King’s Cross – part nostalgic, part very current – and I was delighted that Sophie, Neil and Vandna from the office found the time to come and support the project on behalf of the firm.
Lyndales gives back in various ways and whilst this was largely a modest financial giving back, we provide opportunities for work experience and others but particularly those people looking to get into the law from less well-connected families.
The exhibition is on until 27th November and look out for more stories or activities taking place over the next year or so, to tell the peoples story of King’s Cross, so that the wonderful buildings and the impressive regeneration have a supporting and vital back story. The buildings are great but without the people, they are nothing.
Much the same at Lyndales – without our people, we are nothing.