CamdenNewJournal

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Pleas to save Saint Pancras from being wiped off the political map

New parliamentary constituency is down to be called 'Kentish Town and Bloomsbury'

06 August, 2021 — By Richard Osley

Former mayor Roger Robinson

HISTORIANS will urge the Boundary Commission not to wipe “St Pancras” off the names of political constituencies in the House of Commons, warning that it’s been part of the area “since the dawn of time”.

The New Journal reported last month on the Commission’s proposal to carve up the long-standing Holborn and St Pancras seat with the formation of a new constituency called ‘Kentish Town and Bloomsbury’.

Parts of Camden Town would be hived off to a new territory, while the Islington part of Tufnell Park could be added.

Former mayor Roger Robinson said he was dismayed at the suggested name change.

“Those of us who are fighting to start a local museum for the St Pancras and Somers Town area will be very appalled to lose the title of St Pancras, considering that’s where we started our life,” he said.

“St Pancras has been the basis of our history, going back to the dawn of time almost.”

He added: “If you think about St Pancras: the actual basis of the old Roman fort was the old St Pancras Church area, nothing more, nothing less. That was the whole area of St Pancras where the Romans fought, for example Boudicca, the Iceni and all the rest of it.”

The Labour councillor was speaking at a Town Hall meeting on Thursday evening as members decided what feedback should be sent back to the Commission on its proposals.

Conservative group leader Councillor Oliver Cooper said: “I agree that the name should be Holborn and St Pancras. I noticed some wags mischievously said that Sir Keir Starmer’s constituency was being abolished because it no longer appeared in a list of names – because they did ‘ctrl-f’ and couldn’t find any Holborn and St Pancras anywhere.

“Let’s make sure that story gets put to bed as soon as possible.”

Labour councillor Jonathan Simpson said: “I’d suggest that ‘Kentish Town and Bloomsbury’ retain the name ‘Holborn and St Pancras’. It contains the whole of the former Metropolitan Borough of Holborn and two thirds of the former St Pancras Council.

“And it’s pretty much been the name Holborn and St Pancras since about 1885 – so I don’t think it should be tossed aside so willy-nilly. It does have a historic base.”

Somers Town ward councillor Paul Tomlinson said: “The feedback I’ve had from residents on this is very direct, very compelling and unanimous. All the residents I’ve spoken to, particularly those who are interested in historical aspects of our ward and the borough, want it to retain the name.”

“Our ward has St Pancras Church – there has been a place of worship on that site since the Roman times and certainly there’s some Norman features in the church. So that’s taking us back 900 years.”

The district got its name after the church was dedicated to Saint Pancras – the teenager in Christian scripts who was beheaded in Rome for his faith during the Great Persecution, circa the year 304.

St Pancras Borough Council was set up in 1900, taking over from church vestries.

But it was one of three “metropolitan borough councils” that came together to form Camden in 1965; along with Holborn and Hampstead.

Under the Boundary Commission’s proposals, Camden would find itself part of three new constituencies.

If approved, a new Camden Town and St John’s Wood voting zone would be created, but the new map has been criticised for a division through Hampstead.

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