Euston Square, Camden
A former residential rectangle now fused with the extended forecourt of Euston station, Euston Square’s name is little used except in the context of the tube station, which lies to the west on the corner of Gower Street
Present-day Euston Road began life in the 1750s as part of the New Road, which served as the original ‘north circular’, taking traffic away from built-up London. Until the end of the 18th century the road marked the outer edge of the metropolis in the same way that the M25 does today.
In the 1810s the northward expansion of Bloomsbury breached this barrier with the creation of Euston Square, named after the country seat of local landowner the second Duke of Grafton at Euston Hall in north Suffolk. The scheme was more of a road-widening project than the creation of a true square: a strip of garden was laid out on the north side of the New Road, with houses at its edges.
Euston station became London’s first intercity railway terminus when it opened in July 1837. The station originally stood some way north of its present location: the former site of the Doric ‘arch’ at the main entrance is marked by a pin on the map below.
Nearby Gower Street station opened on the world’s first underground railway in 1863.
In 1869 Euston Grove was extended south from Euston station through Euston Square to connect with Euston Road. The following year two lodges were completed at the grove’s intersection with Euston Road, both of which have now been converted to bars.
Gower Street tube station was renamed Euston Square in 1909.
Euston war memorial was erected in 1921 to honour the railwaymen who lost their lives in the First World War. Additional panels were later added to commemorate the men and women of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway who died in the Second World War.
Private residences disappeared from Euston Square long ago and the vicinity is now dominated by the stone facades of commercial and institutional premises, notably the Wellcome Trust. Most of Euston Grove was erased when Euston station was extended in the 1960s. The part that bisects Euston Square is now all that remains.
Euston Square Gardens have lawns, trees, beds of shrubs and benches. As Camden council points out, tongue in cheek, the gardens probably receive more visitors than any other park in the borough – but most of these ‘visitors’ are commuters taking the short-cut across the north-west corner of the square, on their way to or from the station.
The statue of Robert Stephenson that now looks down on Euston station forecourt originally stood between Euston Square’s entrance lodges, where the Euston Arch Trust would like to rebuild the much-mourned propylaeum.
Postal district: NW1
Station: Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines (zone 1)