We’ve keenly followed the reincarnation of our former local all-night party stomping ground, through a mothballed decade, to finally emerging scrubbed up and open to the public once more.
The lengthy Eastern Coal Drops structure originally saw railway rolling stock dropping tonnes of coal directly into horse-drawn carts in the arches below.
It was later used as a storage facility for glassware made by Bagley’s of Nottingham, before its heyday as a 3000+ capacity pleasuredome, at the height of London’s 1990s electronic music and nightlife explosion.
In 2014, site owners Argent granted us a special tour, where we encountered rooms frozen in time, awaiting construction to begin on the Coal Drops Yard project, complete with radical Heatherwick-designed curvy roof.
Having snapped loads of historic photos that day, we revisited the same spots this week to see what a few million of pounds-worth of respectful reinvention can do for some cherished old Victorian railway-cum-rave infrastructure.
Via the magic of the following slidey before/after photos, we present the transformation of Bagley’s (plus The Cross and The Key, for all you heritage ravers) for a bold new era.
Slide each image left to right to see the view in 2014 and 2019
The approach to Coal Drops Yard, in 2014 and now. Previously where clubbers streamed between The Cross (on the left) and the all-night burger van, to get their first glimpse of a massive Bagley’s queue
Here’s the old girl, then and now. More rebuilt gasholders and greenery today, and hasn’t Tom Dixon smartened up the once-debauched garden of The Cross with his nice furniture, too!
The famous outdoor terraces of Bagley’s, once home to fairground rides and the place for a merciful breath of fresh air from the sweaty main room while watching dawn break over London
Looking back the other way from the now demolished Pilmsoll Viaduct, originally built to take trains over the canal to improved coal drops (now Camley Street Natural Park)
One of Goods Yard’s vast grain silos, today it is regularly heaped with menswear as the home of Universal Works
Damp and dark former nightclub cloakroom, and before that a filthy coal hole, now the bright and airy Raw Press fresh juice bar
The downstairs level at Bagley’s, once a place for meeting friends (pre-mobile phones) and smoking fags in the chillout rooms to mind-bending visuals. Now you can buy cushions and scented candles at Wolf & Badger here
Did you look out from a rave on this terrace? The gasholders used to be further away (on what is now Pancras Square), and the crumbling old viaduct – which Grace Jones once performed beneath as part of the TDK Cross Central festival – has been rebuilt. Damn tasty Mexican can be food down there these days, at Plaza Pastor
Pay close attention when in CDY’s boutiques like Twiin, and you’ll spot the boarded-up doorways thousands of clubbers used to squeeze through every weekend on stumbling voyages of musical discovery at big multi-room parties
Down on the ground, these long-abandoned, burned-out arches where horses and carts once docked are now swanky outlets such as Cos
The rebirth of our old nightclubs is complete, and well worth a nostalgic trip. From rail to rave to retail, the story of King’s Cross Good’s Yard continues…