FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Dinosaurs in danger

Posted in Crystal Palace, England by folkestonejack on October 24, 2015

The media spotlight turned to some of Crystal Palace’s most memorable inhabitants last week after the publication of this year’s Heritage at Risk Register. Amongst the structures identified as being in danger are the remarkable stone dinosaurs and sphinxes of the park, both a legacy of the landscaping carried out when the crystal palace constructed to house the Great Exhibition of 1851 was dismantled and moved from Hyde Park to Sydenham.

Iguanodon at Crystal Palace Park

Iguanodon at Crystal Palace Park

The statues were created by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins around 1852-54 and hold huge significance as the first attempt to model dinosaurs as full-sized creatures, presented as if caught in the prime of their lives. As you might expect, such early interpretations are a little wide of the mark but all the more fascinating because of that.

The group of thirty statues actually only includes four dinosaurs in the strictest sense, with the remainder made up of mammals, amphibians, reptiles and other creatures from prehistoric times. A survey published in May 2015 concluded that the Grade I listed statues require significant conservation works.

The six sphinxes that once guarded the approach to the long gone Crystal Palace are also in a poor state of repair, with a variety of problems ranging from cracks to missing elements. The damage is particularly noticeable on the sphinxes that flank the partially collapsed South Terrace steps, one of which is missing its front paws completely.

One of the six sphinxes on the terraces

One of the six sphinxes on the terraces

An article from the BBC reports that plans for the restoration of the park are in place, including repairs to the sphinxes and the dinosaurs. I hope this delivers on its promises, though a post from the Friends of the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs points out that only a tenth of the funding required to complete the work on the dinosaurs has been found so far.

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The changing face of Crystal Palace

Posted in Crystal Palace, England by folkestonejack on May 2, 2011

On my journey back from London Bridge I stopped off at Crystal Palace to try and get a shot of Railtourer’s ‘The Channel Coast Express’ railtour from Skegness to Chichester. The shot I wanted to capture was the tour passing under the existing passenger bridge and the modern booking office (an imitation of the Crystal Palace). The view is expected to change in the near future as plans were approved a year or two back to demolish the modern booking office and bring the victorian booking office back into use (assuming that the plans haven’t since bitten the dust in austerity measures!).

I have a vague recollection of passing through the old entrance and booking hall when I was small, but it would be great to see this brought back into use. The 3d images shown in the planning application certainly look pretty tasty so it would be great to see this happen.

47786 passes through Crystal Palace on 2nd May 2011

Class 47 diesel 47786 hauls the Channel Coast Express railtour through Crystal Palace on 2nd May 2011