THE CRYSTAL PALACE was a cast-iron and plate-glass structure
originally built in
Hyde Park, London
The name of the building resulted from a piece penned by the playwright Douglas Jerrold , who in July 1850 wrote in the satirical magazine Punch about the forthcoming Great Exhibition, referring to a "palace of very crystal".
After the exhibition, it was decided to relocate the Palace to an
area of South London to be rebuilt on Penge Common, at the top of
Penge Peak next to
Sydenham Hill , an affluent suburb of large villas.
It stood there from 1854 until its destruction by fire in 1936. The
nearby residential area was renamed Crystal Palace after the famous
landmark including the park that surrounds the site, home of the
Crystal Palace National Sports Centre
In 2013 a Chinese developer proposed to re-build the Crystal Palace but the developer's sixteen-month exclusivity agreement with Bromley council to develop its plans was cancelled when it expired in February 2015.
* 1 Original Hyde Park building
* 1.1 Conception * 1.2 Design * 1.3 Construction
* 2 The Great Exhibition of 1851
* 3 Crystal Palace at Sydenham Hill
* 3.1 Relocation and redesign
* 3.2 Exhibitions and notable events
Crystal Palace Park
* 4 Destruction by fire
* 5 Since the fire
* 5.1 Crystal Palace Bowl * 5.2 Future
* 6 See also
* 7 References
* 7.1 Sources * 7.2 Notes
* 8 External links
ORIGINAL HYDE PARK BUILDING
The transept façade of the original Crystal Palace The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park for Grand International Exhibition of 1851
The huge, modular, wood, glass and iron structure was originally erected in Hyde Park in London to house the Great Exhibition of 1851, which showcased the products of many countries throughout the world.
The Commission in charge of mounting the
Great Exhibition was
established in January 1850, and it was decided at the outset that the
entire project would be funded by public subscription. An executive
Building Committee was quickly formed to oversee the design and
construction of the exhibition building, comprising Isambard Kingdom
Within three weeks, the committee had received some 245 entries,
including 38 international submissions from Australia, the
Netherlands, Belgium, Hanover, Switzerland, Brunswick, Hamburg and
France. Two designs, both in iron and glass, were singled out for
praise - one by Richard Turner , co-designer of the
Palm House at Kew,
and the other by French architect Hector Horeau but despite the
great number of submissions, the Committee rejected them all. Turner
was furious at the rejection, and reportedly badgered the
commissioners for months afterwards, seeking compensation, but at an
estimated £300,000, his design (like Horeau's) was too expensive. As
a last resort the committee came up with a standby design of its own,
for a brick building in the rundbogenstil by Donaldson, featuring a
sheet-iron dome designed by Brunel but it was widely criticized and
ridiculed when it was published in the newspapers. Adding to the
Committee's woes, the site for the Exhibition was still not confirmed;
the preferred site was in Hyde Park , adjacent to Princes Gate near
Kensington Rd, but other sites considered included
Wormwood Scrubs ,
Battersea Park , the
Isle of Dogs , Victoria Park and Regent\'s Park .
Opponents of the scheme lobbied strenuously against the use of Hyde
Park (and they were strongly supported by
Paxton left his 9 June 1850 meeting with Henry Cole fired with enthusiasm. He immediately went to Hyde Park, where he 'walked' the site earmarked for the Exhibition. Two days later, on 11 June, while attending a board meeting of the Midland Railway, Paxton made his original concept drawing, which he famously doodled onto a sheet of pink blotting paper . This rough sketch (now in the Victoria "> Partial front (left) and rear (right) elevations of the Crystal Palace
Paxton's modular, hierarchical design reflected his practical brilliance as a designer and problem-solver. It incorporated many breakthroughs, offered practical advantages that no conventional building could match and, above all, embodied the spirit of British innovation and industrial might that the Great Exhibition was intended to celebrate.
The geometry of the Crystal Palace was a classic example of the concept of form following manufacturer's limitations- the shape and size of the whole building was directly based around the size of the panes of glass made by the supplier, Chance Brothers of Smethwick. These were the largest available at the time, measuring 10 inches wide by 49 inches long. Because the entire building was scaled around those dimensions, it meant that nearly the whole outer surface could be glazed using millions of identical panes, thereby drastically reducing both their production cost and the time needed to install them.
The original Hyde Park building was essentially a vast, flat-roofed rectangular hall. A huge open gallery ran along the main axis, with wings extending down either side. The main exhibition space was two stories high, with the upper floor stepped in from the boundary. Most of the building had a flat-profile roof, except for the central transept, which was covered by a 72 foot wide barrel-vaulted roof that stood 168 feet high at the top of the arch. Both the flat-profile sections and the arched transept roof were constructed using the key element of Paxton's design - his patented ridge-and-furrow roofing system, which had first use at Chatsworth. The basic roofing unit, in essence, took the form of a long triangular prism, which made it both extremely light and very strong, and meant it could be built with the minimum amount of materials.
Paxton set the dimensions of this prism by using the length of single pane of glass (49 inches) as the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle, thereby creating a triangle with a length-to-height ratio of 2.5:1, whose base (adjacent side) was 4 feet long. By mirroring this triangle he obtained the 8-foot-wide gables that formed the vertical faces at either end of the prism, each of which was 24' long. With this arrangement, Paxton could glaze the entire roof surface with identical panes that did not need to be trimmed. Paxton placed three of these 8' x 24' roof units side-by-side, horizontally supported by a grid of cast iron beams, which was held up on slim cast iron pillars. The resulting cube, with a floor area of 24'x 24', formed the basic structural module of the building.
By multiplying these modules into a grid, the structure could be extended virtually infinitely. In its original form, the ground level of the Crystal Palace (in plan) measured 1848' x 456', which equates to a grid 77 modules long by 19 modules wide. Because each module was self-supporting, Paxton was able to leave out modules in some areas, creating larger square or rectangular spaces within the building to accommodate larger exhibits. On the lower level these larger spaces were covered by the floor above, and on the upper level by longer spans of roofing, but the dimensions of these larger spaces were always multiples of the basic 24' x 24' grid unit. The modules were also strong enough to be stacked vertically, enabling Paxton to add an upper floor that nearly doubled the amount of available exhibition space. Paxton also used longer trellis girders to create a clear span for the roof of the immense central gallery, which was 72 feet wide and 1800 feet long. Plan of the Crystal Palace
Paxton's roofing system incorporated his elegant solution to the problem of draining the building's vast roof area. Like the Chatsworth Lily House (but unlike its later incarnation at Sydnenham) most of the roof of the original Hyde Park structure had a horizontal profile, so heavy rain posed a potentially serious safety hazard. Because normal cast glass is brittle and has low tensile strength, there was a risk that the weight of any excess water build-up on the roof might have caused panes to shatter, showering shards of glass onto the patrons, ruining the valuable exhibits beneath, and weakening the structure. However, Paxton's ridge-and-furrow roof was designed to shed water very efficiently. Rain ran off the angled glass roof panes into U-shaped cast-iron channels which ran the length of each roof section at the bottom of the 'furrow'. These channels were ingeniously multifunctional - during construction, they served as the rails that supported and guided the trolleys on which the glaziers sat as they installed the roofing. Once completed, the channels acted both as the joists that supported the roof sections, and as guttering - a patented design now widely known as a "Paxton gutter". These gutters conducted the rainwater to the ends of each furrow, where they emptied into the larger main gutters, which were set at right angles to the smaller gutters, along the top of the main horizontal roof bearers. These main gutters drained at either end into the cast iron pillars, which also had an ingenious dual function - each was cast with a hollow core, allowing it to double as a concealed down-pipe that carried the storm-water down into the drains beneath the building.
One of the few issues Paxton could not completely solve was leaks - when completed, rain was found to be leaking into the huge building in over a thousand places. The leaks were sealed with putty, but the relatively poor quality of the sealant materials available at the time meant that the problem was never totally overcome.
Maintaining a comfortable temperature inside such a large glass building was another major challenge, because the Great Exhibition took place decades before the introduction of mains electricity and air-conditioning. Glasshouses rely on the fact that they accumulate and retain heat from the sun, but such heat buildup would have been a major problem for the Exhibition, and this would have been exacerbated by the heat produced by the thousands of people who would be in the building at any given time. Paxton solved this with two clever strategies. One was to install external canvas shade-cloths that were stretched across the roof ridges. These served multiple functions - they reduced heat transmission, moderated and softened the light coming into the building, and acted as a primitive evaporative cooling system when water was sprayed onto them. The other part of the solution was Paxton's ingenious ventilation system. Each of the modules that formed the outer walls of the building was fitted with a prefabricated set of louvres that could be opened and closed using a gear mechanism, allowing hot stale air to escape. The flooring consisted of boards 22 cm (9 inches) wide, which were spaced about 1 cm apart; together with the louvres, this formed an effective passive air-conditioning system. Due to the pressure differential, the hot air escaping from the louvres generated a constant airflow that drew cooler air up through the gaps in the floor. The floor too had a dual function - the gaps between the boards acted as a grating that allowed dust and small pieces of refuse to fall or be swept through them onto the ground beneath, where it was collected daily by a team of cleaning boys. Paxton also designed machines to sweep the floors at the end of each day, but in practice, it was found that the trailing skirts of the female visitors did the job perfectly.
Thanks to the considerable economies of scale Paxton was able to exploit, the manufacture and assembly of the building parts was exceedingly quick and cheap. Each module was identical, fully prefabricated, self-supporting, and fast and easy to erect. All of the parts could be mass-produced in large numbers, and many parts served multiple functions, further reducing both the number of parts needed and their overall cost. Because of its comparatively low weight, the Crystal Palace required absolutely no heavy masonry for supporting walls or foundations, and the relatively light concrete footings on which it stood could be left in the ground once the building was removed (they remain in place today just beneath the surface of the site). The modules could be erected as quickly as the parts could reach the site - indeed, some sections were standing within eighteen hours of leaving the factory - and since each unit was self-supporting, workers were able to assemble much of the building section-by-section, without having to wait for other parts to be finished.
Interior of the Crystal Palace
Fox, Henderson took possession of the site in July 1850 and erected wooden hoardings which were constructed using the timber that later became the floorboards of the finished building. More than 5000 navvies worked on the building during its construction, with up to 2000 on site at one time during the peak building phase. More than 1,000 iron columns supported 2,224 trellis girders and 30 miles of guttering, comprising 4,000 tonnes of iron in all.
First, stakes were driven into the ground to roughly mark out the positions for the cast iron columns; these points were then set precisely by theodolite measurements. Then the concrete foundations were poured, and the base plates for the columns were set into them. Once the foundations were in place, the erection of the modules proceeded rapidly. Connector brackets were attached to the top of each column before erection, and these were then hoisted into position. Since the project took place before the development of powered cranes, the raising of the columns was done manually using shears (or shear legs), a simple crane mechanism. These consisted of two strong poles, which were set several metres apart at the base and then lashed together at the top to form a triangle; this was stabilized and kept vertical by guy ropes fixed to the apex, stretched taut and tied to stakes driven into the ground some distance away. Using pulleys and ropes hung from the apex of the shear, the navvies hoisted the columns, girders and other parts into place.
As soon as two adjacent columns had been erected, a girder was hoisted into place between them and bolted onto the connectors. The columns were erected in opposite pairs, then two more girders were connected to form a self-supporting square—this was the basic frame of each module. The shears would then be moved along and an adjoining bay constructed. When a reasonable number of bays had been completed, the columns for the upper floor were erected (longer shear-legs were used for this, but the operation was essentially the same as for the ground floor). Once the ground floor structure was complete, the final assembly of the upper floor followed rapidly.
For the glazing, Paxton used larger versions of machines he had originally devised for the Great Stove at Chatsworth, installing on-site production line systems, powered by steam engines, that dressed and finished the building parts. These included a machine that mechanically grooved the wooden window sash bars, and a painting machine that automatically dipped the parts in paint and then passed them through a series of rotating brushes to remove the excess. A tree enclosed within the Crystal Palace
The last major components to be put into place were the sixteen semi-circular ribs of the vaulted transept, which were also the only major structural parts that were made of wood. These were raised into position as eight pairs, and all were fixed into place within a week. Thanks to the simplicity of Paxton's design and the combined efficiency of the building contractor and their suppliers, the entire structure was assembled with extraordinary speed—the team of 80 glaziers could fix more than 18,000 panes of sheet glass in a week —and the building was complete and ready to receive exhibits in just five months.
The Crystal Palace
Full-size elm trees growing in the park were enclosed within the
central exhibition hall near the 27-foot (8 m) tall Crystal Fountain.
Sparrows became a nuisance; shooting was obviously out of the question
in a glass building.
Paxton was acclaimed worldwide for his achievement, and was knighted
THE GREAT EXHIBITION OF 1851
Great Exhibition was opened on 1 May 1851 by
In the first week, the prices were £1;then reduced to 5 shillings for the next three weeks, a price which still effectively limited entrance to middle-class and aristocratic visitors. The working classes finally came to the exhibition on Monday 26 May, when weekday prices were reduced to one shilling (although the price was two shillings and sixpence on Fridays, and still 5 shillings on Saturdays). There were over six million admissions counted at the toll-gates, although the proportion which were repeat/returning visitors is not known. The event made a surplus of £186,000 (equivalent to £18,370,000), money which was used to found the Victoria and Albert Museum , the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum in South Kensington .
The Crystal Palace
The Great Exhibition closed on 11 October 1851.
The Crystal Palace
The Crystal Palace
RELOCATION AND REDESIGN
The life of the
Great Exhibition was limited to six months, after
which something had to be done with the building. Against the wishes
of Parliamentary opponents, a consortium of eight businessmen
including Samuel Laing and
Leo Schuster who were both board members of
London, Brighton and South Coast Railway
The construction of the building began on
Sydenham Hill in 1852. The
new building, while incorporating most of the constructional parts of
the Hyde Park building, was so completely different in form as to be
properly considered a quite different structure – a 'Beaux-arts '
form in glass and metal. The main gallery was redesigned and covered
with a new barrel-vaulted roof, the central transept was greatly
enlarged and made even higher, and two new transepts were added at
either end of the main gallery. It was modified and enlarged so much
that it extended beyond the boundary of Penge Place, which was also
the boundary between
Within just two years the rebuilt Palace building was complete, and
Several localities claim to be the area to which the building was
moved. The street address of the Crystal Palace was Sydenham (SE26)
after 1917, but the actual building and parklands were in Penge. When
built, most of the buildings were in the County of
Two railway stations were opened to serve the permanent exhibition:
* Crystal Palace High Level : developed by the LCDR , it was an impressive building designed by Edward Barry , from which a subway under the Parade led directly to the entrance * Crystal Palace Low Level : developed by laing and Schuster's LB&SCR, it is located just off Anerley Road.
The Low Level Station is still in use as Crystal Palace , while the only remains of the High Level Station are the subway under the Parade with its Italian mosaic roofing, a Grade II listed building .
The South Gate is served by
Penge West Railway Station . For some
time this station was on an atmospheric railway . This is often
confused with a 550-metre pneumatic passenger railway which was
exhibited at the Crystal Palace in 1864, which was known as the
Crystal Palace pneumatic railway
EXHIBITIONS AND NOTABLE EVENTS
Dozens of experts such as
Matthew Digby Wyatt and Owen Jones were
hired to create a series of courts that provided a narrative of the
history of fine art. Amongst these were
Augustus Pugin 's Mediaeval
Court from the Great Exhibition, as well as courts illustrating
In 1868, the world's first aeronautical exhibition was held in the Crystal Palace. In 1871, the world's first cat show , organised by Harrison Weir , was held there. Other shows, such as dog shows , pigeon shows, honey, flower shows, as well as the first national motor show were also held at the Palace. The match which later has been dubbed the world's first bandy match was held at the Palace in 1875; at the time, the game was called "hockey on the ice". The new site was also the location of one of Charles Spurgeon 's famous sermons, without amplification, before a crowd of 23,654 people on 7 October 1857.
A colourful description of a visit to the Crystal Palace appears in John Davidson\'s poem 'The Crystal Palace' published in 1909. Festival of Empire 1911 with the Canadian Building in the foreground
Robert Baden-Powell first noticed the interest of girls in
In 1911, the Festival of Empire was held at the building to mark the coronation of George V and Queen Mary . Large pavilions were built for and by the colonies, that for Canada for instance replicating the Parliament in Ottawa. A good record of the Festival is provided by the photogravure plates in the sale catalogue published shortly afterwards by Knight, Frank and Rutley and Horne "> RNVR at the Crystal Palace, 1917. Painting by John Lavery
During the First World War, it was used as a naval training establishment under the name of HMS Victory VI, informally known as HMS Crystal Palace. More than 125,000 men from the Royal Naval Division , Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and Royal Naval Air Service were trained for war at Victory VI.
Towards the end of the First War World War, the Crystal Palace re-opened as the site of the first Imperial War Museum ; in 1920 this major initiative was fully launched with a program as the 'Imperial War Museum and Great Victory Exhibition Crystal Palace' (published by Photocrom ). A few years later the Imperial War Museum moved to South Kensington, and then in the 1930s to its present site Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park, formerly Bedlam .
On 15–20 October 1934 the Pageant of Labour was held at the Crystal Palace.
CRYSTAL PALACE PARK
The development of ground and gardens of the park cost considerably more than the rebuilt Crystal Palace. Edward Milner designed the Italian Garden and fountains, the Great Maze, and the English Landscape Garden. Raffaele Monti was hired to design and build much of the external statuary around the fountain basins, and the urns, tazzas and vases. The sculptor Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins was commissioned to make 33 lifesized models of the (then) newly discovered dinosaurs and other extinct animals in the park. The Palace and its park became the location of many shows, concerts and exhibitions, as well as sporting events after the construction of various sports grounds on the site. The FA Cup Final was held here between 1895 and 1914. On the new site were also various buildings that housed educational establishments such as the Crystal Palace School of Art, Science, and Literature as well as engineering schools. The Crystal Palace with one of the water towers as seen from Anerley around 1910
Joseph Paxton was first and foremost a gardener, and his layout of
gardens, fountains , terraces and cascades left no doubt as to his
ability. One thing he did have a problem with was water supply. Such
was his enthusiasm that thousands of gallons of water were needed to
feed the myriad fountains and cascades abounding in the Park: the two
main jets were 250 feet (76 m) high. Water towers were duly
constructed, but the weight of water in the raised tanks caused them
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
While the original palace cost £150,000 (equivalent to £14.8 million in 2015), the move to Sydenham cost £1,300,000—(£119 million in 2015), burdening the company with a debt it never repaid, partly because admission fees were depressed by the inability to cater for Sunday visitors in its early years: many people worked every day except Sunday, when the Palace was closed. The Lord\'s Day Observance Society held that people should not be encouraged to work at the Palace on Sunday, and that if people wanted to visit, then their employers should give them time off during the working week. However, the Palace was eventually open on Sundays by 1860, and it was recorded that 40,000 visitors came on a Sunday in May 1861.
By the 1890s the Palace's popularity and state of repair had deteriorated; the appearance of stalls and booths had made it a more downmarket attraction.
In the years after the Festival of Empire the building fell into disrepair, as the huge debt and maintenance costs became unsustainable, and in 1911 bankruptcy was declared. In 1914 the Earl of Plymouth bought it, to save it from developers. A public subscription subsequently bought it from the Earl for the nation.
In the 1920s, a board of trustees was set up under the guidance of manager Sir Henry Buckland. He is said to have been a firm but fair man, who had a great love for the Crystal Palace, and soon set about restoring the deteriorating building. The restoration not only brought visitors back, but also meant that the Palace started to make a small profit once more. Buckland and his staff also worked on improving the fountains and gardens, including the Thursday evening displays of fireworks by Brocks .
DESTRUCTION BY FIRE
Crystal Palace on fire, 1936
On 30 November 1936 came the final catastrophe – fire. Within hours
the Palace was destroyed: the glow was visible across eight counties .
That night, Buckland was walking his dog near the palace, with his
daughter (Crystal Buckland, named after the palace ) when they noticed
a red glow within. Inside, he found two of his employees fighting a
small office fire, that had started after an explosion in the
women's cloakroom . Realising that it was a serious fire, they called
the Penge fire brigade. But, even though 89 fire engines and over 400
firemen arrived they were unable to extinguish it. (The fire spread
quickly in the high winds that night, because it could consume the
dry old timber flooring, and the huge quantity of flammable materials
in the building.) Buckland said, "In a few hours we have seen the end
of the Crystal Palace. Yet it will live in the memories not only of
Englishmen, but the whole world". 100,000 people came to Sydenham Hill
to watch the blaze, among them
Just as in 1866, when the north transept burnt down, the building was not adequately insured to cover the cost of rebuilding (at least two million pounds).
The South Tower and much of the lower level of the Palace had been
used for tests by television pioneer
John Logie Baird
The last singer to perform there before the fire was the Australian ballad contralto Essie Ackland .
SINCE THE FIRE
Crystal Palace a few days after the night of 30 November 1936; totally destroyed
All that was left standing after the 1936 fire were the two water towers. In a November 2011 interview with the Crystal Palace Museum the true story of the towers was revealed. The south tower to the right of the Crystal Palace entrance was taken down shortly after the fire, as the damage sustained had undermined its integrity and it presented a major risk to houses nearby.
The north tower was demolished with explosives in 1941. No reason
was given for its removal, although it was rumoured that it was to
remove a landmark for WWII German aircraft, but
After the destruction of the Palace, the High Level Branch station fell into disuse, and was finally shut in 1954. Crystal Palace site: Remains of the upper terrace, 1993
After the war the site was used for a number of purposes. Between 1927 and 1972 the Crystal Palace motor racing circuit was located in the park, supported by the Greater London Council , but the noise was unpopular with nearby residents and racing hours were soon regulated under a high court judgment.
CRYSTAL PALACE BOWL
Between 1971 and 1980, a series of annual "Crystal Palace Garden
Parties" took place in the summer months. Many famous as well as
aspiring pop artists made their appearances at the Crystal Palace
Pink Floyd ,
The Beach Boys
Over the years, numerous proposals for the former site of the Palace have not come to fruition.
* Plans by the London Development Agency to spend £67.5 million to refurbish the site, including new homes and a regional sports centre were approved after Public Inquiry in December 2010. Before approval was announced the LDA withdrew from taking on management of the park and funding the project. * On 27 July 2013, the Chinese company ZhongRong Holdings held early talks with the London Borough of Bromley and the Mayor of London , Boris Johnson, to rebuild the Crystal Palace on the north side of the park, but the project was cancelled in February 2015.
Infomart , a building in Dallas, Texas modelled after the Crystal
New York Crystal Palace
* John McKean, "Crystal Palace: Joseph Paxton -webkit-column-width: 30em; column-width: 30em; list-style-type: decimal;">
* ^ "
The Crystal Palace