Harry Potter: 10 Hidden Details About Platform 9 3/4 That You Didn’t Know About
From the origin of the platform to the way students got to school before it, how much do you know about the Hogwarts Express in Harry Potter?
BY AJAY ARAVIND
DEC 29, 2020
The fascinating Harry Potter train platform hidden within London's King's Cross station is called 9 and 3/4, because of its secret placement between platforms 9 & 10. It is the only place from which anyone traveling to Hogwarts can catch the express train, unless of course, one has the guts to fly a Ford Anglia across the country.
The only access into the location is by moving through the seemingly solid barrier, which usually doesn't cause any issue since the station is incredibly crowded the whole year. In other words, muggles only see what they want to see; and for those that accidentally catch a glimpse, there are measures in place to prevent the exposure of the magical world.
Busy For Only Six Days Every School Year
Given that the sole function of the platform is to ferry students from Hogwarts to London and back, it makes sense that the place would be shut down most of the time.
There is one journey each for the start and the conclusion of every term, and two each for the major seasons, the Christmas and Easter vacations. While it is active, however, the platform is incredibly busy, with various sights, sounds and smells filling the air (mostly involving a parent either yelling at or crying about missing their child.)
Has Been In Use Since The Mid-19th Century
Platform Nine and Three-Quarters is first established in the middle of the 19th century. After the magical government had set up train tracks and built the Hogwarts Express itself, the next step was to create a railway platform at Hogsmeade.
This location did not need to be hidden, as the village consisted (and still does) only of witches and wizards. While constructing the opposite station in London, however, the Ministry had to think up a far more clever scheme so as to preserve the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy.
Established By A Minister For Magic
Interestingly, Minister Ottaline Gambol (1827-1835) was the first to state the possibility of using Muggle railway technology, resulting in the creation of the Hogwarts Express.
However, the Ministry was at a loss as to how to make a plausible pick-up and drop-off point in the middle of one of the most crowded cities in the world without everyone instantly realizing. The trick of making a "secret platform" was devised by Evangeline Orpington, who was the Minister for Magic from 1849 to 1855.
The Ministry Stands By To Handle Any Slip-Ups
Even with this incredibly smart plan, the crowds that populate Platform Nine and Three-Quarters tend to make tiny errors, unnoticeable to themselves, but potentially posing a serious threat of discovery.
For example, accidentally revealing magical textbooks or materials, making too much noise while crossing the platform barrier, and so on. Therefore, the government appoints certain employees on the six aforementioned days to provide some last-minute memory fixing, if required.
The Barrier Is Not Immune To Elf Magic
The entryway to the special platform is by means of a barrier between Platforms 9 and 10, through which travelers can pass in order to get from King's Cross Station to the Hogwarts Express.
As such, this space has been imbued with a vast array of complex spells that prevent it from being easily uncovered or damaged in any way. This rule clearly does not apply to House-elves, however, as evidenced by how Dobby effortlessly manages to block Harry from making it to the train on time.
How Did Students Get To Hogwarts Before?
When Muggles and magical folk lived in harmony (tentative, of course), pupils used to go to Hogwarts however they wanted. These included brooms, freight vehicles, magic beasts, and so on, but these modes of transport were not without some problematic outcomes, largely avoidable accidents.
Later, Portkeys were developed for this process, and even Floo Powder was occasionally employed by the administration. There was no consistency, however, not until the standard that exists in the present timeline.
The Platform Has A Dedicated Station Guard
In addition to the number of Ministry of Magic minions, there is one officer dedicated to Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. Nothing is known about him, except that he's always around and ensures that people entering the site do so with the proper precautions necessary.
His job is even more important when it comes to students exiting the barrier, which is presumably a lot more noticeable act that simply vanishing into emptiness.
The Ministry under Gambol went ahead with its plan to provide the safest and most convenient transportation scheme for Hogwarts students, even though certain "pure-blood" clans raised a serious complaint against it.
They claimed that the fact of its Muggle origins was insulting to their heritage, calling the whole system "unsafe, unsanitary, and demeaning." Thankfully, the government did not bow down to their wishes, instead mandating that only those pupils who traveled on the Hogwarts Express were permitted to enter the school.
There Is A "Real" Version At King's Cross Station, London
Due to the popularity of the series, hordes of fans visited King's Cross Station from all around the world, for the sole reason of taking photographs next to the area where Platform Nine and Three-Quarters should have been.
The number increased to the point that the authorities built a small trolley partially embedded in a barrier, as if it had been half-transported to the magical world.
Why Three-Quarters, Though?
Since Platform Nine and Three-Quarters lies within the range of platforms nine and ten, this is the name that was chosen for it. There's no specific reason as to why this particular fraction was involved, especially when the barrier is directly between nine and ten.
It could have just as easily been Platform Nine and a half, or Platform Nine and Two Thirds. Chalk it up to the imagination of the author and leave it at that.