My ‘culture’ visit for this week was a short & sweet trip – and focussed on something that I, and many several thousand others, would have walked past on many occasions when journeying by rail – but never even knew they were there, never gave a second thought to, and therefore never took any notice of.
The subject matter in question is a classic example of truly remarkable art being hidden in plain sight…………..and they are the 4 very special ‘Time Benches’ – located directly outside Euston Station
The benches were originally designed and sculptured for the Gateshead Garden Festival in 1990, and are made of materials spanning different geological time zones, hence the name, “Time Benches”. They were then moved to outside Euston Station in 1993.
They are just simple works of art – the kind of structure kids balance along and jump off without a second thought – a useful (if a bit cold on your bum) resting spot while you’re adding sugar to your skinny latte, or just quiet pieces of street furniture to take the weight off your ‘plates’, whilst waiting for your train.
However, the background to the material used in the construction of these benches, is pretty fascinating stuff.
They’re made respectively from:-
- Merrivale granite – from Dartmoor;
- Sandstone – from Cumbria
- Green Slate – from the Lake District
- Portland stone – from Dorset
Each bench stands on a base of the same stone, and is inscribed with the name, geological age and (to use an Antique Roadshow term) ‘provenance’ of the stone used in their construction.
The first Time Bench you would come to when approach Euston Station from the main road entrance, is made of Merrivale granite – it is pale grey-brown in appearance, and the hardest stone of all four of the benches – and it’s about 280 million years old!!!!
The next bench is constructed from dark, red Cumbrian sandstone, quarried from St Bees near Whitehaven – Cumbria. This sandstone dates from the early Triassic period, around 250 million years ago!!!
The third bench is from the Lower Palaeozoic and Ordovician age (don’t ask me what that means) and is constructed from the green slate of the Lake District – and it’s around 450 million years old!!!
The final bench in the foursome has quite an unusual appearance. It’s made from Portland Roach stone – is the ‘youngest’ of the four benches – is from the Jurassic period and is ‘only’ 150 million years old!!! – Looking at this particular bench you can see that it’s riddled with holes, which are actually fossils of shells that have been dissolved away over the centuries.
All in all – an understated but extremely interesting landmark of the ‘smoke’
So – the next time you are travelling to or from Euston Station, you can amaze (or bore) your travelling companions by doing a bit of the old …….”did you know….?”