Harry Potter – Platform 9 and Three Quarters
by Ben Johnson
Please note that Platform 9 ¾ has moved! Click here to jump down to the updated part of this article.
For those of you that have ever read a Harry Potter book or seen one of the films, Platform 9 ¾ needs no introduction. For those of you who haven’t, this pseudo-fictional location at Kings Cross train station is where the Hogwarts Express begins its long journey to Hogwarts School.
The find the “platform” simply take the tube or train to King’s Cross station and find Platform 8 (this is an open platform so no tickets are required!) Once at Platform 8 follow it all the way to the end, turn left towards Platforms 9 and it’s about 10 yards along to your left. Once there you’ll find a sign for “Platform 9 ¾” as well as a luggage trolley half embedded into the wall – the perfect photo opportunity!
Strangely enough, Platform 9¾ is actually between Platforms 8 and 9! There are a couple of reasons for this; firstly, Platform 9 and 10 are in separate buildings from the main train station (JK Rowling intended the Platform to be in the main building). Secondly, Platforms 9 and 10 are adjacent to each other which means that there couldn’t be a magical brick wall to travel through!
Interestingly, in an interview with the BBC in 2001 JK Rowling admits confusing Euston station with Kings Cross Station. “I wrote Platform 9 3/4 when I was living in Manchester, and I wrongly visualised the platforms, and I was actually thinking of Euston, so anyone who’s actually been to the real platforms 9 and 10 in King’s Cross will realise they don’t bear a great resemblance to the platforms 9 and 10 as described in the book. So that’s just me coming clean, there. I was in Manchester; I couldn’t check.” In fact, even at Euston station platforms 9 and 10 are also adjacent meaning that once again, there would be no room for a magical brick wall!
To avoid the problem of having no brick wall between the platforms, during the filming of Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets the filming crew actually renumbered platforms 4 and 5 at King’s Cross Station. Also, because Kings Cross Station isn’t the most glamorous of buildings, the film crew instead decided that the external shots of the train station should be of the nearby St Pancras station, renowned for its wonderful Victorian architecture.
At the time is writing King’s Cross station is undergoing a massive amount of construction, so bear in mind that the exact location of Platform 9 ¾ may have moved – we advise asking one of the friendly station staff if you plan on visiting.
Above: The new Platform 9¾ complete with a Harry Potter look-a-like!