Friday, May 16, 2008

Crystal Palace

After the closing of the Fair, The Crystal Palace was dismantled and rebuilt in Sydenham where it stood until 1936 when it was destroyed by fire.

The original palace cost £150,000, but the relocation to Sydenham cost £1,300,000 – a debt the comp[any never repaid. They also could not open it on Sundays, the only day most people had off. “No amount of protest had any effect: the Lord's Day Observance Society held that people should not be encouraged to work at the Palace or drive transport on Sunday, and that if people wanted to visit, then their employers should give them time off during the working week.”

Which makes no sense, as then someone would still have to work on Sundays, Thereby having something open on Sundays, and ruining the Society’s point.

By May 1861, the palace opened on Sundays, and more than 40,000 visitors attended on Sundays alone.

In 1911, the Festival of Empire was held to mark the coronation of George V and Queen Mary. But it soon fell into disrepair and two years later, to save it from developers, the 1st Earl of Plymouth purchased it. A public subscription quickly re-purchased it for the nation.

During World War I it was used as a naval training establishment under the name of HMS Victory VI, informally known as HMS Crystal Palace. Te Admiralty used it as a recruiting and training centre for the Royal Naval Volunteers and other units, and over 125,000 men were trained. At the cessation of hostilities it was re-opened as the first Imperial War Museum. Sir Henry Buckland took over as General Manager, and former attractions resumed, including the Thursday evening displays of fireworks by Brocks.

On the night of December 1, 1936 a fire destroyed the Palace. It started about eight in the evening near the Egyptian Room and spread with such amazing rapidity that within half an hour the great building was ablaze from end to end. Only the two towers escaped destruction. Ninety engines and 500 firemen fought the fire, which rose 300 feet. The cause was never discovered.

The two towers were taken down in 1941 because they were so observable as a landmark to enemy planes. The site has long since been cleared of its ruins and the trustees of the Crystal Palace have lately sold the estate to the London County Council who will restore the ground & and eventually erect a new permanent building.

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