Uncovering the lost blueprint for London’s rail network

Camille Pissarro's painting of Lordship Lane station from 1871

Camille Pissarro’s painting of Lordship Lane station from 1871

BERNARD WINCHESTER offers a sneak preview of his latest talk, to be given tomorrow, on the history of the other Crystal Palace Station

Everybody knows about Crystal Palace Station and its vast, echoing interior, dating from the time when millions of visitors to Paxton’s great Victorian wonderland were decanted there each year.

But what of the other, even greater Crystal Palace railway station, of which little remains apart from the extraordinary fan-vaulted subway under Crystal Palace Parade, constructed, it is said, by Italian crypt-builders?

The South Norwood Arts Festival and Ashburton Library are celebrating the 150th anniversary of the opening what was known as the High Level Station with a new talk about its story tomorrow. Appropriately for the Halloween season, spooky underground spaces and the spectres of a bygone age will figure prominently.

But reveling in the glories of times past will not be the only theme of the talk. The symbiosis between the railways, the state, and the Crystal Palace, and the way in which this determined the way in which south London developed, will also be examined.

The lost opportunities offered by this railway will also be revealed. Why did plans for the line to come to Croydon, Addiscombe and South Norwood never materialise? Why did it close, and what were the surprising alternatives? How has the station’s closure affected the redevelopment of the park?

A postcard of 1908, showing the station when still a busy  transport hub

A postcard of 1908, showing the station when still a busy transport hub

The talk will also offer a startling insight into how the great master plan for London’s railways, formulated as early as the 1830s by the visionary thinker who conceived of the world’s first underground railway, is only now being implemented.

This will not be a dry, technical talk, but a high-energy presentation placing a colourful, local story in a broad, stimulating, wider context.

  • Admission is free, and refreshments will be served after the talk. It will be held at 11am on Monday November 2 at Ashburton Library, Shirley Road, Croydon, CR9 7AL.
  • The 130 and 367 buses stop outside, and it is two minutes’ walk to stops on the 289 and 312 routes. The tram stops at Woodside and Blackhorse Road are about six minutes away.
  • Programmes for all the events in the South Norwood Arts Festival are obtainable at north Croydon libraries, shops and events, or may be downloaded from the People for Portland Road website.
  • Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough: 729,297 page views in 2014.
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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in Addiscombe West, Ashburton, Crystal Palace and Upper Norwood, Education, History, Norwood Society, People for Portland Road, Transport and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Uncovering the lost blueprint for London’s rail network

  1. farmersboy says:

    They shelved plans because Westfield was still 200 years away…

  2. farmersboy says:

    And because the tram will go there one day…

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