Saturday, 13 March 2021

The Joy Of Crystal Palace (2)

Railway Timeline

1854 : The Crystal Palace opens moved from Hyde Park

1854 : Line opens from Sydenham to a new station to serve the "palace"

1856 : Line from West Norwood via Gipsy Hill Tunnel opened

1857 : Line from Crystal Palace to West Norwood opened

1858 : Line to Birkbeck and Beckenham Junction opened

1865 : Line to Crystal Palace High Level opened

1877 : Station frontage rebuilt

1936 : The Palace was destroyed by fire

1954 : Crystal Palace High Level closed

2010 : Overground East London line trains started

So, a reminder of today's services:-

The station was not well received. It was up a narrow back street off the Anerley Road, some distance from the Palace itself. There was a lengthy walk to get to the main Paxton building ...
... which was known as the Crystal Colonnade.
This walkway is no longer there, of course, but evidence remains. The "back doors" from the station are still clearly "in place" ...
... as is a chunk of very straight, once grand and now lacking-purpose pathway which begins at a set of steps which would have been under cover back then.
The rest of the walk route, once taken by excited crowds, is obliterated by revised landscaping. fbb does wonder if anyone publishes pictures of the Crystal Colonnade in use? To the left of that wall, the land drops down steeply as part of the railway cutting between Gipsy Hill Tunnel and the station.
And a detailed plan does confirm fbb's guessworth!
During the Palace’s first 30 years, more than two million visitors arrived each year at, the majority of whom travelled by rail. Such overwhelming numbers constantly taxed the Low Level station, making it quite inadequate from the very beginning. In fact, for twenty-two years, the station remained as it had appeared in 1854.

Gradually, as user pressures became alleviated and stabilised, the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway took time to reconstruct the Low Level Station in an attempt to remain competitive and to maintain modern standards. Thus, in 1877 at a cost of £13,000, Fred Dale Bannister (Engineer-in-Chief) and Whitney H. Mannering (Principal Assistant Engineer) redesigned the station and accommodation.
The redesigned facility comprised two large two-floor buildings. On the central ground floor was a general waiting room and booking office paved in Minton’s encaustic tiles. In the south building (nearest the camera) were spacious and separate male and female waiting rooms and toilets. On the first floor were the Station Master’s rooms including a living room, four bedrooms, kitchen and toilet areas.

The High Level station was much grander and led, via a splendid subway ...
... direct to the Palace

Low Level remained unchanged until modern times, but as with so much of British Railways infrastructure, it was allowed to decay with weeds an undergrowth being a significant feature.

In the 1980s things took a turn for the better with the opening of a new booking hall designed to reflect the look of the long-gone Palace.

Station Tour

The arrival of the Overground (2010) brought a new lease of life and the terminal platform area has gained a splendid roof ...
... clean and tidy platforms and a total lack of weeds.

The 1980s booking office has gone ...

... revealing the opulence of the building where dwelt the station master. The central section of the 1877 building has become the new booking hall ...
... and splendid it is! Let's go in and enjoy. To the right is the gate line and the route out to the trains ...
... but turn sharp left and you will find ...
... a delightful caff. Currently closed, but if the pictures on Trip Advisor ...
... are accurate, it looks like the yummy sort of place that fbb adores!
We pass through the gates and into the cavernous cathedral-like station itself.

We are on a substantial landing ...

... which leads us to the wide staircases which carried the crowds to the Palace itself.
There are lifts now, of course ...
... designed to be as unobtrusive as possible within the "cathedral" walls. Once at platform level we can catch our Overground (Transport for London) train or (once viral cut backs are put back) our Southern train (Go Ahead), also via Sydenham to London Bridge or, the other way to Victoria.
Platforms 3 to 6 are clearly the most impressive part of the station. But if we divert from the the staircase to platform 3 ...
... we can get to platform 2 for trains to West Croydon and Beckenham Junction seen here exiting Gipsy Hill Tunnel to fork to its left.
Or, we could cross by footway on a "half landing" ...
 ... and lifts to descend in comfort ...
... to platform 1 for a train every 30 min to Victoria or the paltry 90 minute frequency to London Bridge via Tulse Hill.
Clearly this section of the station was built in a less grandiose style because the majority of its Palace clientele would be coming from London via Sydenham.

The Google Earth aerial view might help our loyal readers to glue all this information together.
We look from above Gipsy Hill Tunnel with the new overall roof over all the Overground platforms and the route to West Croydon and Beckenham Junction creeping humbly off to the right.

It was the affable Tim Dunn ...
... whose twitterings reminded fbb of this ferroequinological delight. Thanks, Tim, and another bit of London that needs further exploration.

Bachmann Catalogue Clip
Brake Vans
fbb promised (?) to share some snippets from the new Bachmann catalogue which he recently purchased (post free at £8.95) from Rails of Sheffield. For those of our readers who haver long abandoned toy train sets, these extracts will illustrate in jaw dropping onder how the model industry has changed.

When fbb was honing his youthful modelling skills you could by a cheap plastic brake van from Triang ...
... a slightly less cheap ditto from Trix ...
... and a better model from Hornby Dublo.
This SD6 van had replaced the tin-printed version dating from just post WW2.
Also available was the bargain Airfix Kit at two shillings.
In todays Bachmann catalogue there are 16 different brake vans ...
... including the blue two which fbb has counted as one because, for some unfathomable reason, you have to buy a pack of two blues.

In broad terms, you will have to pay in the region of £25 for a Bachmann brake van.

 Next weekend Variety blog : Sunday 14th March 

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