On the corner of Kings Cross Road and Calthorp Street once stood Rowton House one of a series of hostels all around Britain that provided cheap accommodation for low paid men.
In his autobiography written in the 1920s a Somali seaman named Ibrahim Ismaa’il recalls his desperate search to find a place to sleep for the night after visiting the Wembley Exhibition in 1924. After being turned away from several places he and his friend decided to try and get a room at Rowton House in Kings Cross.
“Tired and disheartened, we thought we would try Rowton House, where we thought anybody would be given a night’s lodging; but here also we were politely told: “The establishment does not accept coloured gentlemen”. We dragged ourselves on, until, at last, we were given hospitality by an old Russian Jew who had tramped through Siberia to China.”