View Full Version : Archived: Crystal Palace, South London, November 2010

17-11-2010, 03:41 AM
The Crystal Palace started out as a mega pavilion of glass and iron at the Hyde Park ‘Great Exhibition’ in 1851. The structure was painstakingly taken down piece by piece and reassembled on top of Norwood Heights, and named the Crystal Palace by 1854. It was served by the now disused Higher Level train station and had extensive landscaped grounds studded with ornamental fountains, powered by two tall water towers – each having a smoke stack in the middle - which stood at either end of the Palace, north and south. Under mysterious or perhaps inevitable circumstances (there had been a previous conflagration) the Crystal Palace caught fire in 1936 and was burnt to ground and entirely destroyed in the space of just one evening. The landscaped grounds mostly escaped the destruction but were reduced to a glimmering ghost of former days due to municipal neglect, the redevelopment of the park as a formula racing track, leisure and sports centre, and casual vandalism which continues to this day. The twin water towers were demolished after the fire and the High Level station was closed in 1954. The platforms have since been developed into housing but the original subway connecting the Crystal Palace with the station, underneath the Crystal Palace Parade (road) is still there. The internet is teeming with historical photos and articles devoted to the Crystal Palace. The still vacant site is also now home to the gigantic Crystal Palace aerial, a landmark for many kilometres and miles around.

1. ruined steps at south end of Crystal Palace [below]

2. broken statue

3. detail of ‘2’

4. reverse view of ‘2’

5. statue facing SE towards Sydenham, Penge and Anerley

6. flight of steps at centre and leading up to Crystal Palace site

7. Victorian sphinx at south end of esplanade

8. aquarium feature (remains) at north end, facing east

9. aquarium signs

10. aquarium


17-11-2010, 03:46 PM
thanks guys. i know the place quite well, but not that well. what was the car racing track is probably still there but has probably been incorporated into the sports facility / park walks. they stopped the formula racing up there donkeys years ago. there's other stuff up there as well, lifesize Victorian prehistoric monsters in the park bit, worth a gander. the old Palace had basements, the boilers in them were all stripped out but that's all i know. they might have back-filled the basements afterwards in which case there will be nothing to access today. the old High Level ticket office is still there under the Parade (main road) but is all padlocked up now. you can get an idea of what has been lost from this short film made in the 50's, this is what the palace grounds looked like when i used to play up there during the 60's - it was all off-limits in those days but the only barriers to exploration were rickety old sticks of fences which had mostly fallen over anyway, i prefer the place overgrown but 2/3 of what i remember has been reduced to rubble and a lot of what's left has been 'sanitized' by the council, but at least they keep half an eye out for it now. yes, the gig space used to be called the Crystal Palace Bowl or something, i saw Freddie King up there in about '76 ;)



17-11-2010, 04:57 PM
Crystal Palace continued ...

11. south water tower base

12. flue / interior of s. water tower

13. original Victorian pipe work from water tower

14. Victorian valve on pipe to fountains

15. subway entrance to High Level railway station (no longer existing)

16. subway entrance

17. subway entrance

18. hall of subway entrance

19. subway arch

continues ...

17-11-2010, 06:47 PM
Crystal Palace continued

20. disused telegraph pole (telephone cable pole)

21. detail pole

22. General Post Office box, near Parade

23. GPO box (1)

24. GPO box 1966

25. GPO box (2)

26. dusk, Crystal Palace gardens