Crystal Palace Park

Posted on March 17th, 2010 by Charles Boot

Jonathan Lovie writes:

Although not a party to the on-going Public Inquiry into proposals for the future development of Grade II* Crystal Palace Park, we have been following developments at the Inquiry with growing concern.

A comprehensive masterplan for the rejuvenation of what was once among the most important public parks in England has been developed for the London Development Agency over several years. We have supported this plan, despite provision within it for limited residential development at certain peripheral points, because we strongly believe that the plan offers a balanced approach to the future management of the park, and the best opportunity for a generation to secure a positive future for what has become a very sad shadow of its former magnificence.

A 1930s view up the axial walk from Paxton’s Centre Basin towards the Crystal Palace. By then many of the fountains had already ceased working, and the great basins & cascades designed by Paxton had dried up.

A 1930s view up the axial walk from Paxton’s Centre Basin towards the Crystal Palace. By then many of the fountains had already ceased working, and the great basins & cascades designed by Paxton had dried up.

One of the major ‘heritage gains’ within the masterplan would be the reinstatement of Joseph Paxton’s axial walk extending from the terraces and the site of the Crystal Palace through the Park. We are therefore alarmed that, despite not participating in earlier consultation on the masterplan, Sport England, a statutory consultee, is now objecting to the plan on the grounds that two synthetic turf pitches should be retained within the park. In our view retention of the pitches would be highly detrimental to the character and special historic interest of the Grade II* registered park and to the character of the conservation area of which it forms a component, and, ironically, to the setting of the Grade II* listed 1960s National Sports Centre. If retention of these pitches prejudiced the reinstatement of the Paxton Walk this would be entirely undermine one of the key elements of the masterplan.

The GHS has written to the Planning Inspector expressing our support for the Masterplan and emphasising our objections to retention of the synthetic turf pitches.

Photographer Philip Henry Delamotte chronicled the original Hyde Park Palace’s construction in 1850/51.To gain a full impression of the Crystal Palace & Park in its 1860 heyday have a look at Delamottes’s Crystal Palace by Ian Leith, EH, 2005. EH had then recently acquired a portfolio containing some 47 photographic images which are published and analysed there for the first time. It shows much of the contents of this amazing building and the Park setting of which it it was an integral part.

August 2009


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