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Crystal Palace at Sydenham/Penge


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#16 Chris Doran

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 02:30 PM

Shame they (British Pathé) charge so much for only short clips,

They're free to schools etc., which may apply to some of our readers. See the Prices page.

I've registered, but they (MovieTone) don't appear to have a search function, and I cannot find anything on the Crystal Palace. Please could you point me in the right direction?

From Movietone, click on Online Newsreel Archive which takes you to a login and search page. Just enter crystal palace in the Search - Main Subject box -- general or specific search gives the same result. This gives a simple list; click on Card View for one-by-one synopses of each clip. If you make any notes, e.g. descriptions where they are omitted, I'd appreciate a copy as I must get all this on my own database. Websites like this have a nasty habit of being taken over and/or starting to charge/upping the prices (British Pathé were a lot cheaper when they began :( ).

Another potentially useful newsreel source is The BBC, but they only seem to have done the North of England so far.

#17 James

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 02:45 PM

You can search for old web pages at archive.org - even if a web site changes hands or disappears altogether you can still read many of the pages that were previously available. For example here is a blast from the past... Virtual Norwood circa 1999... http://web.archive.o...al-norwood.com/

For other web sites put the web address in the box called The Wayback Machine here... http://www.archive.org/

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#18 Mantis2K

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Posted 24 June 2006 - 06:38 AM

They're free to schools etc., which may apply to some of our readers. See the Prices page.
From Movietone, click on Online Newsreel Archive which takes you to a login and search page. Just enter crystal palace in the Search - Main Subject box -- general or specific search gives the same result. This gives a simple list; click on Card View for one-by-one synopses of each clip.

OK thanks! A few nice clips there in 300Kb/sec--not bad! The ones for purchase at the other site apparently come in 500Kb/sec, and I'm going to decide on which one to buy later on tonight.

If you make any notes, e.g. descriptions where they are omitted, I'd appreciate a copy as I must get all this on my own database.

Databases happens to be one of my favourite subjects... What kind of Db are you working on, and is it relational, or like a spreadsheet? What information does it contain?

Latest questions:
15) What was on the first floor of the palace? Was it only a balcony that went around the inside of the building or did it extend across the entire width at any point? Why was the main back entrance staircase raised to this level?

16) How big was the basement area of the palace? What was it used for? Does it still exist underneath the site, in part or in whole?

17) Please can anyone describe the following features, including their former location?
*Underground Grotto
*Moses
*Three Graces

18) Do any photos/footage exist of the village set used for the Invasion show?

Edited by Mantis2K, 24 June 2006 - 07:14 AM.


#19 Chris Doran

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Posted 21 July 2006 - 12:37 AM

I had some discussion at the Victorian Weekend with people who are far more expert than I am on the Palace, but are overwhelmed by your onslaught and have left it to me to reply.

15) What was on the first floor of the palace? Was it only a balcony that went around the inside of the building or did it extend across the entire width at any point? Why was the main back entrance staircase raised to this level?

A 1930 poultry show catalogue (another collector's item) shows it as just a gallery, which is what everybody thinks it was. The steps out from the first floor to the terrace do not appear in early photographs. I don't know exactly when or why they were added.

16) How big was the basement area of the palace? What was it used for? Does it still exist underneath the site, in part or in whole?

I haven't seen a plan of the basement. I understand it contained heating boilers in a long corridor and at the time of the fire, laboratories used by Logie Baird's television company. There has been talk about excavating the labs, but anything that survived the fire was probably crushed by the WW2 Blitz rubble dumped on the site.

17) Please can anyone describe the following features, including their former location?
*Underground Grotto
*Moses
*Three Graces

The 1930 guide book says "The Three Graces" by Germain Pilon and "Moses" by Michael Angelo were in the Religious Court, but I can't see that marked on any plan I have. Also, there were at least two other "Three Graces" statues at the Palace, one by Thorwaldsen and one by Cordova, but I can't find them in that catalogue. A postcard showing Moses and one of the Three Graces statues recently came up on eBay , item 180005884082.

Reverting to two earlier questions:-

7) Where exactly is the Subway located? Is it near the roundabout or further down the middle of the parade? Most intrigueingly, where is the entrance on the park side of the parade, and how is it blocked off from the public?

I am assured that the aerial photo Nick found is not the entrance to the ornate subway used by passengers to/from the High Level Station. If it is a tunnel to the station at all, it may have led to a goods platform, but this has yet to be proved.

re 1) All I need now is a photograph showing the completed glass towers before they were demolished; I wonder if one exists?

At the Victorian Day I was shown some engravings said to have been made from photographs, one of which showed the Paxton water tower, so it seems there were photographs; where they are now is another question. I have also seen photographs and drawings which appear to show both towers, but this could just be part of the side-wings which jutted out into the grounds.

#20 Mantis2K

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Posted 22 July 2006 - 05:32 PM

Hello again, Chris, I was beginning to think you had given up on me... :D

I had some discussion at the Victorian Weekend with people who are far more expert than I am on the Palace, but are overwhelmed by your onslaught and have left it to me to reply.

What!? :o

It's the children's questions that often seem to stump the adults. All the books I've been reading lately, written by experts on the Palace, seem to lack a great deal of information, detail, and most importantly, context. The Piggott book, "Palace of the People", wound me up the most, as it's written mainly from an artistic point of view (Red, Blue, Yellow) by an academic using unecessary fancy words, without any kind of overview whatsoever. There's only a few pages dedicated to the Festival of Empire, and the Aquarium only gets a brief mention, not to mention there's no map of the courts. I found more information about the 1861 Gale and 1886 Fire by reading the New Crystal Palace Matters journals--and there's many photos of the 1886 fire, too (I can find out the issue number; all for sale at Crystal Palace Museum shop). The Piggott book just seems to go on about criticism towards the palace from figures of society, and Red, Blue, Yellow, Red, Blue, Yellow on and on...

Melvyn Harrison of the Crystal Palace Foundation mentioned this Victorian weekend to me, telling me that there were some court photos on display from the Norwood Society, apparently including 1 or more internal views of the Assyrian/Nineveh Court; did you spot this by any chance, Chris? I know you have a good eye for rare photos... Somebody working for the museum told me there is internal views contained within a certain issue of the New Crystal Palace matters journal magazine, but I haven't found a single shot in any publication (only the entrance). BTW, I saw that I outbid you on Ebay for that Cascade/Water Temple stereocard; sorry about that ;) After I've received it and scanned it in onto computer, preserving it, I can pass on the original card to you if you like?

A 1930 poultry show catalogue (another collector's item) shows it as just a gallery, which is what everybody thinks it was. The steps out from the first floor to the terrace do not appear in early photographs. I don't know exactly when or why they were added.

I think they were added around 1911, probably for the Festival of the Empire, which included a lot of refurbishments/additional features/restoration work around the grounds of the palace.

One of the more helpful staff at the Foundation shop within the museum told me that the Palace had 6 floors around the Central transept!? I checked a few photos, but I only count 4 (and 2 for each of the smaller transepts), yet originally I thought there was just 1 floor all around. He told me that they were used just for galleries, and that the Bull's eye cast iron girders made it awkward for people to do anything up there? However, I saw a photograph of the Indian Court amongst the Delamotte photos on the 1st floor of the North Transept.

The Central transept area confuses me most of all... I've seen photos of the Handel concerts, statues, including one of a Horse, and a Hot Air balloon inflated almost to the ceiling. How all this fits together, in terms of time and space, is most mind boggling. I'm going to gather up all the photos I can find of the Central Transept, scan them and put them into one folder, in order to try and build up a picture; it appears there was the Organ nearest to the parade side facing the gardens, special royal balconies opposite the organ but facing it, with many seats in-between. I found out a small subtle detail concealed within a quote used in the Piggott book; it seems people entered the palace by going underneath the organ and coming out into the Central Transept.

In the North-East Transept area was an imported bark of a tree, with the Aboo Simbel figures in the North-West Transept area, via the alley of sphinxes, but what was in the South-East and South-West Transept areas?? I've also come across conflicting photos of the South Transept from the nave--many with a clock and 1 without (instead a spiral staircase). Around this area I think maybe was the Queen's gallery with statues of the royal family in arches or somesuch? Regarding this, there's a photo on Ebay I'm trying to win... Also, I saw one illustration somewhere, showing statues inside the arches of the terraces outside in the garden; anyone confirm if statues really were placed there?

I haven't seen a plan of the basement. I understand it contained heating boilers in a long corridor and at the time of the fire, laboratories used by Logie Baird's television company. There has been talk about excavating the labs, but anything that survived the fire was probably crushed by the WW2 Blitz rubble dumped on the site.

I found out it was called the Paxton Tunnel, used for heating the palace, and there's a plan of it in some books. One photo caption I read claimed that part of this tunnel was exposed during the 1936 fire, but I couldn't quite figure it out in the photo. I wasn't aware it was used by the Baird TV company; cheers for the info!

I am assured that the aerial photo Nick found is not the entrance to the ornate subway used by passengers to/from the High Level Station. If it is a tunnel to the station at all, it may have led to a goods platform, but this has yet to be proved.

Nick definitely found the entrance alright; I visited there the other weekend... It's indicated from the parade by a typical kind of wall that you see at the side of bridges, and behind this is the entrance/exit of the Subway with broken steps leading down--the whole area fenced off with a green fence about 5-6 feet high--pictured in the birdseye view link on page 1.

I went round to the Paxton Railway Tunnel around the other side of the parade, but could not find the opposite end of the subway on route. I asked the guy at the foundation shop, and he said it was non-accessible above ground level--sealed by mesh--most likely in somebody's garden because the old train tracks of the high level station were dug up and houses built below ground level. One guy working at the Aquarium site knew nothing about this side of the Subway. After becoming familiar with the parkside of the subway and "orangey side bridge wall", I saw in line at the opposite side of the parade that there is still a staircase--more complete than it's counterpart--going right down to the subway entrance! I climbed over the short parade wall, which appears to be retaining from the time of the palace, and sure enough came face to face with the subway on a balcony above ground level. Unfortunately, I never had my camera with me, otherwise I would have gone inside! The grilled gates appear to be unlocked with the padlock put aside, and with enough force, I should be able to open those stiff gates quite easily next week...

The subway entrance to the palace would have been just to the right of the palace entrance. There's another retaining wall that can be compared directly to a superb photograph in the Norward book (also got an arieal of the North Tower Gardens!) by John Coulter*, in order to envisage exactly where the front entrance to the main palace resided (something that's always confused me in the same way some people imagine the palace having stood on the lower terrace). If I get time, I plan on designing a website called "The Idiot's guide to the Crystal Palace". I'm going to take photos of these retaining walls and the side fountain, among other things, in order to give people a clear picture in their mind and imagine how the gardens and palace would have really looked during the course of it's life.
*I only bought that book for the North Tower Gardens shot, but that Crystal Palace entrance view from the parade is an absolute gem! In all other shots from the Reeves books et al, the retaining wall is either fenced off, or it wasn't built at the time they were taken.

At the Victorian Day I was shown some engravings said to have been made from photographs, one of which showed the Paxton water tower, so it seems there were photographs; where they are now is another question. I have also seen photographs and drawings which appear to show both towers, but this could just be part of the side-wings which jutted out into the grounds.

After carrying out some research, it appears these towers may never have been completed. My question about the original glass towers appeared to stump one of the older members working in the museum; he seems to ignorantly believe that the construction photos (circular) were of the Brunel towers because they had a chimney and the glass ones were square. However, one of these construction photos is taken beside the framework of the incompleted South Transept, so it must be the original tower (confirmed by Melvyn of the Crystal Palace Foundation). Whether the square glass covering was even put on those first towers, I still haven't been able to find out... they should have been able to test the water with just the internal structure built?

Another question I haven't been able to get a detailed answer about is the Upper, Intermediate and Lower resevoirs, which I found out were apparently man-made when the Palace moved there, but I had falsely assumed atleast the lower lake was naturally occuring. None of my books has any reference to the digging/supply of these lakes; they only talk about supply of the lakes to the fountains

Chris, you've mentioned the wing, which is another thing I'm trying to research at the moment. They could indeed be confused with the original glass towers, as the wing included "Terminal Towers" at each end, in line with the lower terrace pathway in front of the balconies. And it seems at one point in time, their height was reduced somehow! I know the South Terminal Tower was the School of ? (framed in an archway of the Rosary photographed by Delamotte) and later a storeroom for all the statues, but it seems the North Terminal Tower that blew down in the 1861 gale was used for helping the water supply to the fountains; I'm trying to find out whether the tanks were going to be used on top of the ceiling or inside the tower? This whole Terminal Tower thing is very unclear, and doesn't make any sense in the Palace of the People book. Only through reading an article in one of the New Crystal Palace Matters issue (all about fire and damage) could I begin to understand was J. R. Piggott is talking about in his/her book, but even the journal isn't fully clear about this minor point.

More questions than answers? :D The research continues...

I got some info on the Aquarium here, if anyone is interested... It opened 1871, and closed in the 1890s, but nobody knows what the site was used for after that. There is only 2 known illustrations of it, and one was discovered only a few years back in Germany (both postcards available from the Crystal Palace Foundation). No photos are known to exist.
Introduction...
Available postcards...
Recent site photo 1...
Recent site photo 2...
Recent site photo 3...
Recent site photo 4...
Recent site photo 5...
Map of site...
Official Aquarium Handbook...

Edited by Mantis2K, 22 July 2006 - 05:50 PM.


#21 Mantis2K

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Posted 23 July 2006 - 05:55 PM

CRYSTAL PALACE SUBWAY

Station End

As you can see from Photo 7, the gate is not locked, but too stiff for me to open without a crowbar.

Station End photo 1
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Station End photo 33


Park End

Unfortunately, everything is overgrown inside the green fences, so you cannot see the partial steps leading down into the subway. The ariel photo is more better for this side.

Park End photo 1
Park End photo 2
Park End photo 3
Park End photo 4
Park End photo 5
Ariel photo...

Edited by Mantis2K, 23 July 2006 - 06:00 PM.


#22 chris_thomas

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 02:14 AM

9) I've brought this up once before, but never questioned it... When I was about 10 years old, my mother took us to see a cat breeder named Nina (I think) living in one of the big orange houses along the park side of Crystal Palace Park road, a few up from the penge entrance. I was only young, but I remember her showing me the blocked off entrance to a tunnel, in her back garden, that went underneath Crystal Palace park! This was before I was interested in history, but I remember clearly the lady showing me a plan of her house, saying it used to be the German Embassy, and the tunnels were used in the war. She said they were blocked by the council. Now, why would there be secret war tunnels running underneath the park!?



Hope I can help on this one. The former German Embassy is at the top of Westwood Hill, one building down from the Astra Hotel. If you look through the main gate you will see a statue of an eagle at the apex of the roof.
As for the tunnels I cant help you on this on.

Chris Thomas
The Palace Magazine
www.chris@the-palace-mag.co.uk
Chris Thomas
www.palacemag.co.uk