King's Cross Station is considered one of the main train stations to serve London, England. Students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry took the scarlet steam engine named the Hogwarts Express to Hogwarts from Platform 9¾ every 1 September at 11 AM sharp. To get to Platform 9¾, one must run straight at the wall between platforms 9 and 10. King's Cross also served as a major intercity and commuter rail hub for Muggles going to North London or Yorkshire and the North East and Scotland.

History

When Minister for Magic Ottaline Gambol commandeered a Muggle train to serve as the new mode of transport for Hogwarts students, she also had constructed a small station in the wizarding village of Hogsmeade: a necessary adjunct to the train. The Ministry of Magic felt strongly, however, that to construct an additional wizarding station in the middle of London would stretch even the Muggles' notorious determination not to notice magic when it was exploding in front of their faces.

It was Evangeline Orpington, Minister from 1849-1855, who hit upon the solution of adding a concealed platform at the newly built King's Cross station, which would be accessible only to witches and wizards. On the whole, this worked well, although there were some minor problems over the ensuing years, such as witches and wizards who dropped suitcases full of biting spellbooks or newt spleens all over the polished station floor, or else disappeared through the solid barrier a little too loudly. There were usually a number of plain-clothed Ministry of Magic employees on hand to deal with any inconvenient Muggle memories that might need altering at the start and end of each Hogwarts term.[1]

Locations

Platform 4

Platform 4 had trains coming direct from Watton-at-Stone northbound direct to St Neots.[2]

Platform 7

Platform 7 had trains headed northbound direct to York via the East Coast Main Line.[2]

Platform 7½

Platform 7½ offered a long-distance train, similar to the Muggle Orient Express, off to wizard-only villages in continental Europe.[3]

Platforms 9 & 10

Platforms nine and ten were the Muggle platforms on either side of the barrier through which wizards and witches had to walk into in order to get onto Platform 9¾.

Platform 9¾

Harry Potter standing in the station and talking to a guard

Platform 9¾ was the platform from which the Hogwarts Express was boarded on September 1st. The platform had a sign hanging over it, reading: Hogwarts Express, eleven o'clock, and there was a wrought iron archway bearing the words Platform Nine and Three-Quarters over the entry/exit to the platform. At the conclusion of the school year, the Hogwarts Express returned to King's Cross, bringing the students of Hogwarts back for their summer holidays. It can be assumed that the sign over the platform changes on the day the train returns from Hogwarts.

In order for someone to get onto Platform 9¾, they had to walk directly at the apparently solid barrier dividing platforms nine and ten. Molly Weasley advised that one should "do it at a bit of a run if you're nervous." It is not known exactly how Muggles did not, or could not get onto the platform; however, it can be assumed that powerful magic of some sort was employed in order to keep them ignorant of its existence. However, It was shown in Severus Snape's memories that Lily Evans's family was present at the platform as she boarded it, which could mean that Muggles were able to enter the platform, if made specifically aware of its existence.

Other hidden platforms

Other concealed platforms could be opened on an as-required-basis, for instance for large, one-off events such as Celestina Warbeck concerts, or, perhaps, the Quidditch World Cup.[3]

Usage by Harry Potter

1990s

Harry Potter: "It looks like King’s Cross station. Except a lot cleaner and empty, and there are no trains as far as I can see."
Albus Dumbledore: "King’s Cross station! Good gracious, really?"
— Harry and Dumbledore while in Limbo[src]

Harry and the Weasleys in the station

In 1991, Harry Potter, being a first-year, went to Platform 9¾ for the first time after being told to go there at King Cross Station. He had no instructions on how to get on and therefore he needed the help of the Weasley family, who he had heard discussing it. Harry and Ron Weasley first met at this moment, starting a life-long friendship. 

In 1992, Dobby the House-elf did something to the barrier dividing platforms 9 and 10, in order to prevent Harry Potter and Harry and Ron accessing the platform. All that is known about the magic he used is that it somehow made the barrier which acted as entrance/exit to Platform 9¾ solidify, thus causing Harry and Ron to crash into it, as opposed to passing through it as wizards and witches normally did. Consequently, they decided the only way to get to Hogwarts was to steal Arthur Weasley's Flying Ford Anglia and fly it to the school. This caused them both numerous amounts of trouble, as they were seen by Muggles and risked wizarding exposure. 

Harry and Dumbledore talk in the King's Cross Station-like Limbo

In 1998, during the Battle of Hogwarts, Harry Potter allowed himself to be struck with a Killing Curse by Lord Voldemort, and he entered a Limbo state in which his spirit met with the spirit of Albus Dumbledore, at a location that Harry identified as King's Cross Station. The station was, in the unconscious mind of Harry, clean and empty except for something that looked like a small, naked child, curled on the ground, with skin that was raw and rough, as though it had been flayed, which lay under a seat. Dumbledore then revealed to Harry that the form represented a small part of Voldemort, destroyed when he "killed" Harry and thus annihilated the part of his soul which he had unwittingly implanted in him.

2017

In 2017, Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione sent their children - Rose Granger-Weasley, Albus Potter, and James Potter - off to Hogwarts. There, they caught a glimpse of Draco Malfoy and his wife Astoria seeing off their son Scorpius.

Behind the scenes

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  • J. K. Rowling chose King's Cross Station as the portal that would take Harry to Hogwarts because this was where her parents met on a train to Scotland.[4]
  • When writing the Harry Potter books, J. K. Rowling was thinking of Euston train station when she was describing platforms 9 and 10. At King's Cross station, platforms 9 and 10 only offer services on London commuter rail (currently operated by Great Northern and running to North London, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire) and are separate to the rest of the station. More importantly, there is nothing between platforms 9 and 10 at the real King's Cross - the platforms exist either side of two parallel railway lines, hence why during the films, platforms 4 and 5 are used. However, Euston station also has it's platforms 9 and 10 existing either side of of two parallel railway lines, and those platforms are only served by suburban and commuter rail services (operated by London Overground and London Midland respectively) too.
  • The cover of Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone depicts King's Cross with a High Speed Train visible next to the Express. High Speed Trains do not enter the part of the station where Platforms 9-11 are, but the British Rail "Intercity" livery it is depicted with is correct for the 1991 setting of the book, as by this time, BR had divided its operations between corporate sectors rather than geographical regions.
  • It is possible that King's Cross was the place Harry "chose" to meet Dumbledore because the station symbolised Harry's entrance into the wizarding world, or rather, the border that separates the wizarding and Muggle worlds, or also because death is culturally known as "the last travel". Since trains are used to travel, this is a viable theory. However, Harry never "took the train" to the other side.
  • In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, when Harry first meets the Weasleys at King's Cross Station, Mrs Weasley asked her children "Now, what's the platform number?" This is unusual as not only had she gone to Hogwarts herself, but by this time so had five of her seven children (with two of them completing their education), and she would have gone through the barrier many times. Of course, Mrs Weasley could have been just testing her children if they knew where to go. Possibly, J.K. Rowling wrote this just to make sure that Harry was talking with the right people.
  • In LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7, King's Cross is depicted as an underground station that can be accessed via a set of stairs in Charing Cross Road. In reality, King's Cross St Pancras is a separate, but directly connected underground station.
  • At the real King's Cross, there is half of a luggage cart in the western departures concourse (it has moved at least twice), and there is a sign that says Platform 9¾ so tourists can take pictures as if they are disappearing into the barrier.[5]
  • The Harry Potter Shop at Platform Nine and Three-Quarters is found at the real King's Cross Station in London, England.[6]
  • The exterior shots seen in the movies are of neighbouring St Pancras, whose Gothic style was considered far more impressive than the 1960s look that the station then had - King's Cross has since undergone a major renovation.

Author's comments

"King's Cross, which is one of London's main railway stations, has a very personal significance for me, because my parents met on a train to Scotland which departed from King’s Cross station. For this reason, and because it has such an evocative and symbolic name, and because it is actually the right station to leave from if you were heading to Caledonia, I never knew the slightest indecision about the location of the portal that would take Harry to Hogwarts, or the means of transport that would take him there.

"It is said (though where the story originated I could not tell you; it is suspiciously vague) that King's Cross station was built either on the site of Boudicca's last battle (Boudicca was an ancient British queen who led a rebellion against the Romans) or on the site of her tomb. Legend has it that her grave is situated somewhere in the region of platforms eight to ten. I did not know this when I gave the wizards' platform its number. King’s Cross station takes its name from a now-demolished monument to King George IV.

"There is a real trolley stuck halfway out of a wall in King's Cross now, and it makes me beam proudly every time I pass...."

Appearances

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Notes and references

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