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kapelwa

Kings Cross As A Historic Red Light Area

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There have been a number of very interesting 'down memory lane' type threads about London and other areas that have at one time or another had erotic connotations. We have recalled things ranging from punting before the internet, to cinemas and peep shows, our first contact with the punting world etc.

So I thought I'd open up a discussion about Kings Cross! Growing up in the 80s it always had that seedy connotation to me, like a grimmer Soho. Specifically I recall a kind of sexual triangle which encompassed the old Scala cinema - about as erotically intriguing as a 'normal' cinema could get; the street scene around the station; a little string of musty shops that were either sex shops or some weird hybrid of adult material and generally odd stuff; and the odd Soho-style doorway with a sign inviting you in - one of which I recall was right next to the sex shop opposite the east side of the main station on York Way.

Then there were (and are?) all those little hotels which as a youngster I imagined must have had some relationship with the whole sex scene!

The station itself had its fame as the arrival of people coming to seek a better life in London from the rest of the country, and there's a whole mythoogy about people doing that and falling into a life of sin! Not to mention the tales of 'Thatcher's girls' coming down from the recession-hit areas of Britain to make a few bob on the game in London and by all accounts even doing so on the trains themselves!

It was before my time but there was a famous church occupation by the English Collective of Prostitutes in the 70s in Kings Cross. Maybe some old timers can tell us what it was like back then?

Despite regeneration there is still the remnants of that aura: the strip pub on Caledonian Road; the Judd Street Sauna and other serious establishments from cinemas to private clubs apparently still based in the area. The phone boxes are still full of cards too. As for the SWs and doorways I'm not sure - I would get propositioned even in the late 90s but havent been in the area enough to know what level of activity there is now.

Oddly because of my age I guess and the general whiff of danger I never partook (and never would with the poor SWs). Going into the shops was about my limit!

Any other memories past or present out there?

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And the odd Soho-style doorway with a sign inviting you in - one of which I recall was right next to the sex shop opposite the east side of the main station on York Way.

I visited that flat a couple of times, and used to see a lovely Greek lass who whilst providing a vanilla service akin to Soho walkups was always very friendly and chatty, it was a shame she moved on. That was back in the mid to late nineties (97/98 at a guess) when for work reasons I often had to walk from the Thameslink station to the main Kings Cross one, and couldn't resist a quick punt. :)

The only only time I ever went with a street girl was when I was approached by one who was really quite stunning, and she persuaded me to go back to her flat. Except after following her back to it (keeping a 10 foot distance between us, by her request, just in case police were nearby) she took me to a block of flats, but then suggested we shag in the stairwell. I was new to punting at the time, and doing it in the open excited me, and it was quite a lot of fun. Apart from when I gave her a £50 note (damn that cash machine!), she said she'd dash off to get change, and about 10 minutes later it dawned on me that she wasn't coming back. Ahem. Yeah, I was kind of very naive back then...

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Kings X is the single part of London that I never once had a decent punt in during my early days of this hobby

Never been even vaguely interested in returning to this area for a punt since, never even been tempted

Whereas I have many fond memories of some fantastic punts and some really lovely girls from punting back in the day in east london, dagenham, goodmayes, ilford, seven kings, leyton, upminster, bethnal green, stratford and cleveland street in the west end....amongst other places

Edited by BillGoldberg

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I'd suggest that if one were to find oneself in a strange city, with time to waste, heading for the main railway station, or better yet, Railway Terminus, will almost certainly reveal one or more red lights (and I don't mean railway signal lights, either)!

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[The station itself had its fame as the arrival of people coming to seek a better life in London from the rest of the country, and there's a whole mythoogy about people doing that and falling into a life of sin! Not to mention the tales of 'Thatcher's girls' coming down from the recession-hit areas of Britain to make a few bob on the game in London and by all accounts even doing so on the trains themselves!/quote]

They were commonly known as "Have it away days"

Never actually punted there as always seemed a but dodgy but the street scene was always enjoyable.

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back in the mid 90's ,just up the road from kings cross station,on caledonian road,was a massage parlour called beverly hills,it was in the same ownership as luton sauna in luton and once a week my two favourite wg's from luton,sophie,now the originalhoney of mk,and another gorgeous young blonde,jo both plied their trade there and i often stopped by on my way to the station.happy days

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There have been a number of very interesting 'down memory lane' type threads about London and other areas that have at one time or another had erotic connotations. We have recalled things ranging from punting before the internet, to cinemas and peep shows, our first contact with the punting world etc.

So I thought I'd open up a discussion about Kings Cross! Growing up in the 80s it always had that seedy connotation to me, like a grimmer Soho. Specifically I recall a kind of sexual triangle which encompassed the old Scala cinema - about as erotically intriguing as a 'normal' cinema could get; the street scene around the station; a little string of musty shops that were either sex shops or some weird hybrid of adult material and generally odd stuff; and the odd Soho-style doorway with a sign inviting you in - one of which I recall was right next to the sex shop opposite the east side of the main station on York Way.

Then there were (and are?) all those little hotels which as a youngster I imagined must have had some relationship with the whole sex scene!

The station itself had its fame as the arrival of people coming to seek a better life in London from the rest of the country, and there's a whole mythoogy about people doing that and falling into a life of sin! Not to mention the tales of 'Thatcher's girls' coming down from the recession-hit areas of Britain to make a few bob on the game in London and by all accounts even doing so on the trains themselves!

It was before my time but there was a famous church occupation by the English Collective of Prostitutes in the 70s in Kings Cross. Maybe some old timers can tell us what it was like back then?

Despite regeneration there is still the remnants of that aura: the strip pub on Caledonian Road; the Judd Street Sauna and other serious establishments from cinemas to private clubs apparently still based in the area. The phone boxes are still full of cards too. As for the SWs and doorways I'm not sure - I would get propositioned even in the late 90s but havent been in the area enough to know what level of activity there is now.

Oddly because of my age I guess and the general whiff of danger I never partook (and never would with the poor SWs). Going into the shops was about my limit!

Any other memories past or present out there?

It was in the early to mid 1980s that the street scene at Kings Cross was at its height (I don't know about before that as I discovered it only around 1981); there was a little square opposite the station on the south side of the Euston Road, and it swarmed with street girls even during the day but especially at night. Most of them worked out of apartments in the area, but some used the (very seedy) hotels there that still exist, though the street girls have long departed. The area was 'cleaned up' some time around the late 80s, early 90s and the street scene moved north, I'm not sure where, and south, to the Bedford Hill area in Balham, but that was soon sorted out by local busybodies.

But when the Kings Cross area was at its height you could find scores of girls there - in fact it was my introduction to punting - and it was very lively: white girls, black girls (though not many, and I don't remember any Thai or EE girls) from all over the country, it was really a sort of free punting zone until it was stopped. Happy days (at least for the punters. standing out on the street in all weathers couldn't have been much fun for the girls), I remember propositioning one girl of the many only to find she was a religious nut from the US who was there presumably to convert the wicked. She didn't seem to be having much success.

Edited by Oldblighter

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I think the Evening Standard carried one or two big articles in the 1980s as the sheer scale of street girl activity was causing genuine problems for the local residents. I think it was centered on thr Argyle Square area.

The Standard caused discomfort for the police and they blitzed the area arresting and re-arresting girls. The action worked after a fashion as the girls migrated from King's Cross to Sussex Gardens near Paddington. Not sure what happrned then though.

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i remember it as you descibed it late 70's through to the 80's. but after the regeneration the trade shifted and seven sisters, stroud green , blackstock rd all had benders and peerers. some action seems to have returned to lawrence rd recently.

also streatham became notorious during that era.

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Perhaps you should petition to have a memorial bench to great WGs of the past who plied their trade there :D

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I only ever knew this was/may have been a red light area from a brief scene in the film Mona Lisa. I think I may some tome after driven round just to see but found nothing going on.

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Thanks for the memories, great to reconstruct the history like that between everyone, with all our contrasting personal experiences too.

The other place I visited myself, in the mid-90s, was the strip pub at the bottom of Caledonian Road, the Flying Scotsman I think its called. It seemed great, so down to earth and miles away from the whole spearmint rhino type end of the market. Lookslike it is still going strong.

Going back even further than we have so far, a very popular book on 'secret London' in the 60s has just been republished. It might be useful to trace the history back further still as I remember the chapter on prostitution was very good on detail. Now if only I could recall its name!

FInally, after opening this topic I noticed another thread on here which discusses the most recent changes to the area:

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