The King’s Cross area has been part of a regeneration project for over a decade and there are still more changes to come. But even in this previously unloved area there are some streets that make you stop in your tracks. Keystone Crescent is one of them.
Keystone Crescent is a small residential street off of Caledonian Road but it will grab your attention. As the name would suggest, it’s a curved road and has a unique matching outer and inner circle.
It’s claim to fame is in being the smallest radius of any crescent in Europe but what you notice are the ‘conservation area’ grade Victorian townhouses with curved walls.
There’s an information board near the junction with Caledonian Road that explains there was the The Caledonian Asylum for Scottish Children here in 1825 before the crescent was built in 1846. It was then called Caledonian Crescent (still visible on the corner of 48 Caledonian Road).
The area was developed with terraces of housing between about 1830 and 1850, partly in response to the new link (Caledonian Road) between the New Road (Euston Road – Pentonville Road) and the Holloway area.
The area became a London transport hub with the coming of the Regent’s Canal in 1820 and later the railways, both of which acted as stimuli to industrial development to the north and west of the area. King’s Cross station opened in 1852 and St Pancras station opening in 1857.
The road was renamed Keystone Crescent in 1917, during the first world war.
The River Fleet
This expansion and development included adaptations to London’s rivers as they were diverted and hidden below.
The Keystone Crescent information board also includes a diagram that shows the tunnels that run under St. Pancras and King’s Cross stations as The River Fleet “now weaves through King’s Cross’ spaghetti junction at a depth between the Victoria line and the Northern line.”
The local Council operates special policies in the Keystone Crescent Conservation Area in order to preserve and enhance the special character and appearance of the area. The intention is to keep a visually coherent character and to show the road as largely unchanged since it was first laid out.
The Council will not permit the removal of original or traditional front railings within the area. Owners are encouraged to reinstate traditional metal railings (where these existed) and basement gates must be painted black too.
While some front gardens have become driveways, the Council does not permit car ports in Keystone Crescent.
The houses are two storey townhouses with basements and attics. The bricks are set in Flemish Bond with Welsh slate roofs. Each entrance has a round-arched doorway with a four-panelled door.
It now looks like a film set but it is a small street with real homes. It may well have been used as a filming location, possibly in Mike Leigh’s ‘High Hopes’.
Not All Residential
There is one basement where no-one lives as it’s a private members bar. You need the keyring and the keypad code but once inside the vibe is ’60s, plush and full of an understated King’s Cross crowd, I’m told. Keystone Crescent club is open until 4am and was started by the same people who run Drink Shop & Do. (You can read more about it here.)
London is full of places that make you stop in your tracks. Keystone Crescent is definitely on the list.