The first Great Northern Railway engine shed at London was built in 1850, three quarters of a mile north-west of where Kings Cross station is located today. It was built on a large area of open land, with the East and West India Docks and Birmingham Junction Railway to the north, the main line of the Great Northern Railway to the east and Regent's Canal to the south. The East and West India Docks and Birmingham Junction Railway which ran from Chalk Farm to Poplar was still being built in 1850, and by 1853 it was known by the simpler title of The North London Railway. Most of the land in the area around Top Shed was developed into Kings Cross Goods Yard.
A temporary passenger terminus had been sited at Maiden Lane (now called York Way) from August 1850 and the locomotive depot was constructed nearby. However, when Kings Cross station was opened in October 1852 it was located further south, on the other side of Regent's Canal and at a lower level than Top Shed to allow for the lines running underneath the canal.
Top Shed finally closed in June 1963, and demolition began soon after.
Nearby was Kings Cross Goods Yard.
The Running Shed
Originally constructed in 1850, the Main Shed had twenty five roads. Although there was no turntable in front of the main running shed, it was built in the shape of a shallow curve which gave the shed a unique appearance.
The Midland Roundhouse
In December 1857 the Midland Railway negotiated with the Great Northern Railway for running powers over the main line from Hitchin to King's Cross. As part of this agreement the GNR undertook to provide engine sheds at its own cost for the MR, with the Midland paying for its water use, plus six percent interest for the rent of the premises. The Roundhouse (also known as the Derby Shed) opened in 1859 and grew to be a considerable size, with eventually twenty four roads circling the forty foot diameter turntable.
But by 1861 the Midland had decided that they wanted their own Goods and Minerals Station, which they subsequently built at Agar Town. When they left the Great Northern took the Roundhouse over as a carriage and wagon shop, and then as a running shed for their tank locos. In 1931 it was demolished and the tracks were then used for open air stabling until the Met Shed was built.
The Met Shed
The Met (Metropolitan) Shed was put together in 1932 following the demolition of the Roundhouse. The front half was part of the original 1850 running shed whilst the rear was formed by the 1862 extension to the carriage and wagon shops. It housed the tank engines and locomotives which worked the inner and outer suburban services from Kings Cross.
Most of the sidings at Top Shed and Kings Cross Goods Yard funneled down into the junction at Freight Terminal junction near Belle Isle, which was the cause of the fan-shaped layout of both areas.