Detail of Victorian ironwork under the entrance canopy.], formerly known as the Crystal Palace (Low Level) Station. Crystal Palace, south-east London. 1854. Built by the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway to bring visitors to the Crystal Palace at its Sydenham site. Reconstructed 1877 by Fred Dale Bannister and Whitney H. Mannering. Present iron and glass booking-hall (only just visible here on the far right) added in 1986. [
Photograph, caption, and commentary by Jacqueline Banerjee, 2009. You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL.
At the beginning, the main features of the station were a 72' wide, double-span roof over the platforms, supported by wooden arches; and a long glass-walled walkway leading away from it to the Crystal Palace — a veritable "Crystal Colonnade" (see Yentz). Neither of these features has survived. The only notable points of the station building now are the Continental mansard roofs, which must have been added in 1877 as a High Victorian flourish, and the leaf-patterned ironwork used below the entrance canopy. These would be unusual in the average suburban station from that time. (Another station building with mansard roofs is Alfred Waterhouse's North Western Hotel, fronting Lime Street Station, Liverpool, but the two mansard roofs there are steeper and more delicate, and of course the whole building is on a far grander scale). On the whole, the Crystal Palace Station is less appealing than one might expect, considering some of the other stations serving holiday attractions (Battersea Park Station and Kew Gardens Station come to mind).
One reason for this is that in 1865 a rival station was built at the top of Sydenham Hill by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway. An altogether grander affair, this one was designed by E. M. Barry and called the Crystal Palace (High Level) Station. The new station was much more conveniently placed for the palace, with a splendid underground passage constructed by Italian craftsmen, linking it quickly with the main building (see Catford). However, due partly to war damage, this more impressive terminus was the one to be closed after the palace was destroyed; it was finally demolished in 1961. As for the Low Level station, the main part was shut down when the new booking-hall was added in 1986, so that when approached from the park it looks quite derelict. However, it will soon be restored after "extensive historic research": the old booking-hall will be returned to use, and the platforms will be covered with a new canopy ("Crystal Palace Station"). In 2010, as the terminus of the new East London line, it promises to look altogether more welcoming.
"Crystal Palace Station" (Scott Brownrigg, architects). Viewed 18 May 2009.
Catford, Nick. "Site Name: Crystal Palace High Level Station Subway" (Subterranea Brittanica site). Viewed 18 May 2009.
Yenz, Jeff. "Crystal Palace History" (The Crystal Palace Foundation site). Viewed 18 May 2009.
Last modified 18 May 2009