A two-minute film about the “secret” Crystal Palace Subway, nestled beneath a busy south London road, has taken the internet by storm, leading to fresh hope that fundraising targets will be met to open up access to the Grade II-listed site on a permanent basis.
In less than two weeks, more than 1 million people have viewed the film which shows Friends of Crystal Palace Subway treasurer Jules Hussey showing BBC London around the hidden Victorian subway, which sits at the top of Crystal Palace Park, underneath the busy A212. Interest has been worldwide, with another film by National Geographic topping their most popular news videos for several days.
Hussey, who is leading the fundraising campaign to reopen the blocked pedestrian access, and install a new access gate, has been overwhelmed by the response.
“Since the BBC programme aired we have been inundated with requests to shoot videos, adverts and hold numerous events in the Subway,” she said, “but until we reinstate safe access these are all going to be on a wish list. We are always over subscribed for the one weekend a year we are currently open for Open House, but this really demonstrates support is global.
“Our group is small and 100 per cent volunteer run, and to make access a reality for the millions of people who would like to visit the Subway in person we are now crowdfunding £10,000 and are applying for an additional £20,000 from funding schemes for a new iron gate that will provide safe access.
“It is only through raising this money that we can welcome everyone to visit. Anyone donating any amount through our Paypal or Go Fund Me page will be put into a draw to cut the ribbon that reopens the Subway, which will be an historic moment.
“As part of our fundraising drive, with the support of East Dulwich Picturehouse, we are delighted to announce that we are offering a second opportunity to view our recent documentary that shows the subway in a new light, sharing stories of local people who have been enchanted by it.
“The screening is at 11am on Saturday January 30 at the East Dulwich Picturehouse, with tickets available only in advance, from £5 via Eventbrite. If you weren’t able to see it at our premiere at Anerley Town Hall in December, secure your ticket now to avoid disappointment.”
Since the Subway gate fundraising campaign began, donations towards the £50,000 cost have been received by Southwark Council, Antic London, Acacia Learning, Martin and Co. Crystal Palace, and Eastern Cuisine, covering just under half of the total necessary. Work can begin, but not completed without the generosity of donors far and wide.
“It really must be noted that we would not be in the position to be applying for funds, or considering the work, were it not for the practical support and belief from both councils, Bromley and Southwark, over the last three years,” Hussey said.
Given that the historic Crystal Palace stood entirely within the old borough of Croydon, it might seem odd to some that our council has not yet pitched in with some help, however modestly.
Londonist’s video report on the Crystal Subway is available here:
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