diamond geezer

 Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Random borough (11): Bromley (part 3)
A Crystal Palace threesome


Somewhere famous: The Crystal Palace
In the beginning this was plain old Sydenham Hill, and nobody paid it much attention. And then in 1851 the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park opened, and closed, and there was a giant iron and glass building in need of a new home. The Crystal Palace was relocated here on the ridge, high above southeast London, and a new park of entertainment and enlightenment opened up in the surrounding fields. It was a great success, attracting huge crowds by road and rail, although a gradual decline set in after a few decades. In 1936 the palace burnt to the ground in an unexpected and spectacular fire. Head to the top of Sydenham Hill today and you'll find just the artificial terraces where the Italian Gardens once stood [photo], and a few headless statues [photo], and some stone sphinxes [photo]. Be thankful that Bromley Council didn't have their way a few years ago, else there'd now be a 20-screen multiplex cinema and leisure centre on top of the hill in a building resembling an airport terminal. The only thing Londoners can see atop Sydenham Hill today is a giant 200m television mast, built on the site of John Logie Baird's TV studios. Here's hoping nothing uglier is ever slapped down beside it.

Somewhere pre-historic: Crystal Palace Dinosaur park [photo]
"Please Mummy, can we go and see the dinosaurs?"
"Yes certainly. They're over here in the corner of the park, down by the lake."
"But Mummy, that's not a dinosaur, that's a big fibreglass mammal hanging onto a tree."
"It's a Megatherium, darling, a giant sloth. And there's a family of Anoplotherium under those trees."
"But Mummy, they're not dinosaurs either. Take me over the bridge past that waterfall."
"Look dear, there are some artificial rock strata in that artificial cliff-face."
"I'm not interested in fake geology, Mummy. I want to see the dinosaurs that Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins built."
"Here they are! The Iguanodon is so big that Ben held a 20-strong dinner party inside it when the park opened."
"That's just an old wives tale, Mummy. Why has it got a thumb sticking out of its head?"
"It's not anatomically accurate, darling. These dinosaurs were designed 150 years ago before scientists knew any better."
"And the Icthyosaur has seen better days, and that Megalosaurus has pigeons sitting all down its spine, and those Labyrinthodons are just plain dull."
"OK son, I know it's not Jurassic Park, but at least it's free."
"They're brilliant, Mummy! Can we come again next weekend?"

Somewhere sporty: Crystal Palace Athletics Stadium [photo]
In the beginning there was just a park. But no park is complete without sport, and over the years this park has seen greater sport than most.
• WG Grace used to wander over from his house on Crystal Palace Road to play cricket here.
• A football ground was built in the park, and all 20 FA Cup Finals from 1895 to 1914 were played right here. More than 120000 spectators watched Aston Villa beat Sunderland in 1913.
• The England rugby team's first match against the All Blacks was held at Crystal Palace in 1905. Not atypically, England lost fifteen nil.
Crystal Palace FC was formed here in 1905, and remained until 1914 when the army took over the park.
• A race circuit for motorcycles opened around the park in 1927, and was also used for motor racing between 1953 and 1973. Parts of the circuit are still clearly visible today.
• The Crystal Palace Athletics Stadium was opened in 1964. It's capable of hosting world class events, although it doesn't get to hold many these days. You can peer down at the tracks from the grassy bank to the south. The surrounding buildings include a 10 storey accommodation block, and are a bit ugly. The sports complex houses London's only 50m swimming pool, and the whole thing will soon be utterly superseded by the new Olympic Stadium in Stratford.
by train: Crystal Palace (where else?)


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream