Crystal Palace Park dinosaur bridge swings into action

The special swing bridge to dinosaur island in Crystal Palace Park has now been installed

The architect-designed swing bridge for dinosaur island in Crystal Palace Park is now fully operational.

Paid for out of grants from the Greater London Authority and £70,000 raised through a public crowdfunder, the bridge was designed by architects Tonkin Liu with engineers Arup, and locally-based fabricator Cake Industries in a project led by Friends of Crystal Place Dinosaurs.

A spokesperson for the Friends said, “The bridge has not only solved a practical challenge but has added to the beauty of the park, brought together the community and raised our capabilities as a charity.”

The metalwork to make the bridge was done in a local factory

Planning permission was granted by Bromley Council in late 2019, and the installation work completed in January this year.

The eight-metre-wide crossing provides access to the 167-year-old concrete dinosaurs as life-size depictions of the prehistoric animals.

The dinosaurs were installed when the original, Victorian Crystal Palace was moved from Hyde Park to Sydenham.

To protect access to the Grade I-listed statues, the bridge has been designed to remain in the water and only swing to connect with land when staff need to maintain the dinosaurs or for educational trips.

According to the architects, “When not in use the bridge will serve as a sculptural artwork floating in water, its deck inspired by the form of a prehistoric bony fish.”

The Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs hope that the swing bridge will prevent unwelcome vandalism to the Grade I-listed statues

But even without the help of the new bridge, vandals last year managed to cross to the island and inflicted serious damage – a “heritage crime” – on some of the giant-sized models. The culprits have never been identified.

Mike Tonkin, from the architects’ firm, told Architects Journal, “The great advantage of the centre swing bridge is that it would be a water-bound swivel bridge, with no permanent connection to land, which with a chain could be locked in place surrounded by deep muddy water, removing temptation to cross to the protected island.

“This solution also needed only one central foundation submerged and hidden from view.”


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