Following the successful award of £2.8m grant funding, much needed works to restore the Crystal Palace Subway are now underway. The site is partially located under Crystal Palace Parade, situated on the edge of Crystal Palace Park and forms part of the Council’s wider Regeneration Plan to restore and rejuvenate the Park. The restoration of this structure will ultimately remove the Subway from Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register, making the site safe for future generations to enjoy. The site is now closed whilst the restoration works are underway.
The Crystal Palace Subway Restoration Project
With the support of the Friends of Crystal Palace Subway (FCPS) and Historic England, the Council appointed award-winning conservation architects Thomas Ford & Partners in May 2020, to undertake the restoration of the Grade II* listed Subway. The project includes detailed survey work to understand the current condition of the structure.
Planning approval was granted in January 2022, which included the provision of a new roof over the East Courtyard to replace the roof that was destroyed in the Crystal Palace fire of 1936.
Once completed, it is envisaged that the Subway will be removed from the Heritage at Risk Register and will be safe for the public to enjoy. The project has provided an extraordinary opportunity to secure a sustainable future for the much-loved community asset, which is of significant historical importance.
In February 2022, specialist conservation contractors, DBR Limited, were appointed to complete the restoration works of the Subway. Subsequently, works on the Subway’s restoration began in Spring 2022, with the project due to complete in July 2023. To date, extensive restoration works have been undertaken, including the structural remedial works to the North Elevation, the West Courtyard gates have been installed and all masonry cleaning is complete.
In addition to the work outlined above, during the excavation of the Upper-South Stair, a half stone landing, complete with its surrounding brick walls, was uncovered. This discovery revealed that the stair had a different configuration that had been outlined on all previous historic drawings, demonstrating that the North and South stairs were not symmetrical as previously thought.
First opened to the public in 1865, the Subway was originally designed by Charles Barry Jnr, and provided access to the Crystal Palace from the High-Level Station. The main structure of the Subway is a series of spectacular vaults, built from red and cream brick, with an elaborate floor paved in two alternating types of stone.
The Subway is one of the last remaining features of the original Crystal Palace after the 1936 fire. It has an international following and a dedicated Friends group, who have worked for many years to secure the future of the site. Further information on the Subway and its history can be found on the FCPS website: https://cpsubway.org.uk/history.
For more information about the project, please visit: www.bromley.gov.uk/crystalpalacesubway or www.thomasford.co.uk/crystal-palace-subway
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