Windows Up for Grabs; Architecture: Forty-Six Fabulous Victorian Gothic Windows Being Removed from St Pancras Station as Part of Its Renovation Are in Desperate Need of New Homes, Discovers Catherine Moye

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IF YOU fancy taking home 45 arched gothic windows absolutely free, I know exactly where you should go: St Pancras station. You will need to provide the transport as each window is 10ft tall and 3ft wide, but should you need a new conservatory, these windows could give you a conservatory with attitude.

Don't expect your free windows to be in pristine condition - they come with a century of London grime, quite a few smashed panes and with some crudely cut holes created for air-conditioning ducts.

"I've never had to shift this volume of windows before," says Andrew Royce of Howard Brothers, one of a dozen contractors working on the rejuvenation of the St Pancras area in preparation for the Channel Tunnel rail link. "We've got 46 windows coming out over the next couple of months and possibly a hundred or more of varying sizes yet to be removed."

With the blessing of English Heritage, contractors are replacing the Station's present windows, designed by architect Sir George Gilbert Scott, with copies that meet with new glazing safety regulations for public buildings.

Not all the windows date from 1864, when St Pancras was opened, as some are replacements installed in the 1930s. All of them, however, are impressive arched structures with carved wood fronts to match the station's distinctive stonework.

Ironically, it is the very distinctiveness of Scott's designs that have made them so difficult to place with a good home. "If they were ordinary sliding sash windows, then we wouldn't have a problem finding a buyer for them," says Royce. "But they ' re gothic-headed, enormous casements. And the market for windows is tricky because you have to fit them in to the external fabric of a building. I've had a number of architectural salvage dealers on the phone, but the moment they find out the size of the windows, they're not interested."

Royce is offering the windows free to Homes & Property readers, architectural salvage firms or even an imaginative developer prepared to design a building around them.

As you might imagine, not everyone approves of the windows' removal.

Thornton Kay, of Salvo, which monitors architectural salvage, says a culture of replace and destroy instead of repair and return is on the rise in the UK.

"Every year six million windows - a million in London alone - go into landfill," says Kay. …


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