CRYSTAL PALACE SUBWAY RESTORATION
BROMLEY, SOUTH LONDON
As the gateway for passengers from the High Level Station, the Crystal Palace Subway was the first hint of the impending extravagance that defined the Crystal Palace. The exceptional craftsmanship and stunning design of the subway demonstrates the grandeur of Victorian design and engineering. The subway structure has withstood many landmark events in its 155 year history, from the 1936 fire that destroyed the Crystal Palace to bombing raids during World War II, and to this day still wows visitors in much the same way as it did when it originally opened to the public in 1865.
Despite the enduring appreciation of the Grade II Listed subway, it is now in desperate need of a major restoration to remove it from Historic England’s Building at Risk Register. The work we are proudly undertaking, along with the London Borough of Bromley Council and the Friends of Crystal Palace Subway, intends to bring this incredible place back into community use and secure its long-term future.
1865 - 2021
The High Level Station on the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway officially opened. The station one was of two that served the Crystal Palace site.
Subway that took 1st class passengers directly from the High Level Station into the Crystal Palace was officially opened on 23rd December.
Following the outbreak of World War I the High Level Station closed to the public. When it re-opened in 1919 its popularity had waned and visitor numbers never returned to their former levels.
A catastrophic fire raged through the Crystal Palace on 30th November. Although the fire was attended by 89 fire engines and 400 firemen, it ripped through the Palace and destroyed it within a matter of hours. Alongside rendering the Subway redundant, the fire also causes significant damage to the Subway roof structures, but the brick vaults were spared any major damage.
Image Copyright: The Crystal Palace Foundation
Plans drawn up to use the subway as a makeshift air raid shelter during World War II. Although most of evidence of this has been lost to time, the floor channel for the urinals is still in place today.
Image: National Archives
High Level Station closed.
Demolition of the High Level Station begins on 12th March.
Subway listed Grade II.
Subway used as a storage place for statues by the Greater London Council.
The inaugural Subway Superday was held in September. More followed this up until 1994.
Subway is opened publicly for the first time as part of the Open House London weekend in September.
2014 - PRESENT DAY
The Friends of Crystal Palace Subway began holding Art workshops, exhibitions and open days to raise the profile of the Subway.
The Friends of Crystal Palace Subway raised £52,000 for access works to reopen the site via the terrace on the Southwark boundary.
Southwark terrace repaved.
Subway re-designated Grade II* Listed.
£2.34m committed to the restoration of the Subway by the City of London Strategic Investment Pot, which secures the Subway's future and allows its removal from Historic England's Heritage at Risk Register.
Between 2019 and 2020 Historic England agreed to contribute a very generous £500k to the project and the Friends of the Crystal Palace Subway also contributed £5k.
Thomas Ford & Partners appointed as conservation architect and Lead designer for the restoration of the Subway. TF&P lead a team of specialist sub-consultants.
Vegetation on the site cleared ahead of a digital point cloud survey, which revealed the remains of the two south staircases which has been hidden for several decades.
Thomas Ford & Partners commissioned a digital point cloud survey of the Subway, East Courtyard and surrounding site.
Condition survey of the subway undertaken by TF&P to establish where repairs will need to be carried out. These are meticulously draw up using digital software and show every missing brick or crack!
Following the Condition Survey, Thomas Ford & Partners began an investigation to discover as many clues as possible about the Subway so as to most faithfully restore the structure. Using historical photos, old floor plans and careful site investigation around the site, a picture of the Subway began to emerge. Click the tabs below to find out what we've discovered so far.
The detective work is still ongoing, and we'll be regularly updating this page with interesting finds, so make sure to check back soon.
Submission of new roof for planning permission and the restoration for Listed Building Consent. Permission was granted in February 2022
This detective work is still ongoing, and we'll be regularly updating this page with interesting finds, so make sure to check back soon. The drawings below are constantly evolving as we learn more and more about this incredible site.
Following a competitive tendering process, DBR Limited were appointed as the primary contractor to carry out both the repairs and the construction of the new roof. Check some of their other work here.
Works are anticipated to start on site in the middle of April. Keep checking back to see regular progress updates.