Journey Beyond the Screen

King's Cross Station

England: Harry PotterKing's Cross Station: Platform 9 3/4

Location

According to legend, the area around King's Cross station once witnessed a major battle between the Romans and a Celtic tribe. The Celts lost, but their leader Boudeca is said to be buried under King's Cross, presumably below platforms 9 or 10.

Built between 1851 and 1852, the train station at King's Cross has seen a considerable amount of redevelopment. The low point was certainly in the late 20th century, when the station had a rather seedy reputation, with run-down buildings and prostitutes near the main entrance a common site. When British Rail was privatised in 1996, considerable effort was put into the renovation of the station, which ultimately led to a major revamp from 2007 to 2013.

After the station became well known due to its prominence in the Harry Potter books and movies, the secret Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross became an iconic site for fans.

The interior of King's Cross Station oozes 165 years of train history.

The interior of King's Cross Station oozes 165 years of train history.

 

 

Key Scenes

In the fictional world of Harry Potter, Platform 9 3/4 is a secret platform between the existing platforms 9 and 10. This is where the students of the School of Wizardry and Witchcraft board the Hogwarts Express on the first of September each year. The platform can only be accessed through the brick wall of a station pillar.

Platform 9 3/4 features in several of the movies. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry boards the Hogwarts Express for the very first time and has to ask Molly Weasley how to cross through the barrier between platforms 9 and 10. A year later, Dobby the elf uses his magic to block access to the platform, so as to prevent Harry and Ron from attending school. The two boys decide that the only way to make it to Hogwarts in time is to steal the Weasley family car - a flying Ford Anglia (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets). The subsequent year, the Weasleys take Harry to the platform again. Here Arthur Weasley tries to glean some information off Harry about his godfather Sirius Black (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban). In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry and the Weasleys arrive at the station by taxi.

Some of the members of the Order of the Phoenix take Harry to the station on foot the following year (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), while yet another year later, Harry's protection is a couple of grim-faced, bearded Aurors (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince).

In reality, platforms 9 and 10 are housed in a separate space to the main station. The responsible authorities decided to install a wall plaque in 1999 with the inscription "Platform 9¾". Below the sign, a replica trolley was set up, with half of it disappearing into the wall. Initially located in a passageway between the main station and the 9-11 annex, the set-up was moved in 2012 during the revamp of the station. Fans will find the current trolley, complete with luggage and the owl Hedwig's bird cage next to the Harry Potter merchandise shop in the main concourse.  

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