In an occluded corned of south London lies a beautiful Victorian subway that, campaigners hope, could see the light of day once again.
Built in 1865, the Crystal Palace Subway was constructed to allow visitors to the eponymous building, which had recently relocated to Sydenham from its original home in Hyde Park, to pass from the railway station to the building and grounds without dirtying their fineries by crossing the muddy roads. This being Victorian England, the project was finished with impressive flair and aplomb. The stunning ornate orange and cream brickwork was the handiwork of Edward Middleton Barry, third son of Charles Barry (architect of the Palace of Westminster), who also designed the now-demolished Crystal Palace (High Level) station, which shared much of the same stylistic cues.
Campaigners hope that the subway can be re-opened and turned into an arts and events venue, such as those that have proved so popular in central London these past few years — the Old Vic Tunnels and Shunt being prime examples. Entry to the tunnel is currently restricted as the supporting walls are not stable, but that aside there’s little to stop the proposals, should the local councils back them.
To get behind the campaign you can sign the petition and follow them on Twitter @cpsubway and on Facebook. An embryonic ‘Friends of Crystal Palace Subway’ website is also getting underway, while there’s a good report at Mish Mash (thanks to @BrockleyKate for that last link).
All photos by Jules Hussey.