Each month we find out a little more about the area through the people who live, work and play here. This month we caught up with Nick Mercer, Commercial Director – Eurostar.
When did you start working in the area?
I started visiting St Pancras International during the construction phase between 2005 and 2007 as we were planning the move from Waterloo International to St Pancras International. It was very exciting and when the station was still a construction site the area with the Eurostar check-in area and shops were just a dingy mud filled basement. It was difficult to imagine how beautiful the station renovation and rebirth would be. We were very proud that the transfer went so well and the launch of services on HS1 went as planned on 14 November 2007 with the first train arriving at 1101 spot on time, unlike the teething problems BA had opening T5 at Heathrow a few months later.
How has it changed since then?
We captured what the area was like with the Shane Meadows film “Somers Town” which was released just before we started services in 2017. It really showed the scale of the build in and around the development area, the only oases being the British Library and King Place. It’s great that much of the architecture has been kept, particularly some of the original railway infrastructure. Outstanding features are the tiered access to the canal at Granary Square and the clever use of the square itself. It’s great that local families and children enjoy the fountains so much during the summer.
What’s your favourite place in the area?
It was inspired to have Central St Martin’s relocate to the Granary Building. Having several thousand young and talented students be forerunners for other employees and residents was a stroke of genius.
What do you love about our neighbourhood?
I love the variety, the buzz and connectivity. I keep saying to anyone who will listen that our area is the best connected in Europe.
What’s your favourite story about the area?
I always thought that the best story would be the discovery Boudica’s resting place in the area, exactly like what happened with finding Richard III in the car park in Leicester. However, when I catch a re-run of the 1955 Ealing film the Ladykillers, I’m reminded of the vast number of changes around the whole of the area and story just keeps continuing.
What’s the best community initiative you have seen in the local area?
I think Global Generations bee hives, bee friendly planting and bug hotels helping to bring wildlife back to the area with the help of local children is wonderful The team inspired us to have our own bees hives producing our own “Eurostar Honey” in Kent.
What challenges will the area face in the future?
I hope the government follows through on providing affordable housing for local communities and addressing homelessness, this and pollution from diesel vehicles are the key challenges we face.
Where do you see our neighbourhood in the next ten years and what kind of image it will have?
The image I would like the area to have in 10 years’ time is that local residents of all ages are being employed in all our businesses and that existing communities are benefiting socially and economically from the transformation. It is also important that we keep innovating, doing things which people talk about! Certainly, from a Eurostar perspective I hope we may be linking to other countries and not just France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
If our neighbourhood had a theme song, what would it be and why?
“King’s Cross” by the Pet Shop Boys from the album “Actually”.