This is a post about a place I visited many times in my youth, since I grew up not very far from it.
Crystal Palace was one of two stations opened to serve Crystal Palace (the other being Sydenham), when the building was moved from its original location in Hyde Park to Southeast London. The building itself was destroyed by a lightening strike in 1936, but the area still has much to commend it. In 2010 Crystal Palace station took a step up in importance when as part of the incorporation of what had been the East London Line into London Overground the New Cross Gate branch was extended south to West Croydon with a spur from Sydenham to Crystal Palace. More about the history of this station can be found here.
CRYSTAL PALACE PARK
The area where Crystal Palace once stood is now a public park, noted for its display of model dinosaurs (some of which are poorly posed as little was known of their lifestyles when they were constructed). There is a bust of Joseph Paxton, creator of Crystal Palace there as well. There are a variety of sources of further information available, including visitlondon, who have an excellent page featuring the image below, and the London Borough of Bromley’s official site, which has an excellent location map, also featured below.
A CRICKETING CONNECTION
In 1899 Dr W G Grace, having quarreled irretrievably with his native Gloucestershire, established the London County Cricket Club at Crystal Palace. Sadly, so entrenched were pre-existing prejudices that even with him running the show the new venture folded after a mere ten years, having had first class status only for the first five of those years.
WHERE I GREW UP IN LONDON
Earlier in the post I mentioned that I grew up not far from Crystal Palace. Here are a couple of pics obtained by way of google maps, based on my old home address that show just how close…
THE RAILWAY DETECTIVE
A fabulous series of books by Edward Marston, the first of the series which has the same title as the whole series features a dastardly plot to blow up Crystal Palace. More about this book and others in the series can be found here.
A MORE RECENT CONNECTION
To end this post, here is a picture of part of lot 602 in James and Sons‘ April Auction…
Although this station is on the original section of the Piccadilly line which opened in 1906 Covent Garden did not open until 1907. The reason for this omission is that it is actually a mere 0.16 miles (0.26 km) from Leicester Square, the shortest distance between any two stations on the same line anywhere on the system (this distinction is there for situations such as Euston Square and Warren Street which are round the corner from one another). However, in spite of the proximity of Leicester Square, Covent Garden does have enough to offer to justify having its own station, as the rest of this post will endeavour to show. Here are some map pictures showing the crowded nature of the area:
MUSIC, MARKETS AND MAPS
Dealing with these in the order above, Covent Garden is home to the English National Opera. Covent Garden Market is very famous, and more information is available at their website. Finally in this section, just down the road from Covent Garden station is Stanford’s, the map dealers. If you are going to find a map anywhere, Stanford’s will have it.
Covent Garden is in the heart of Theatreland. In addition to the information in the website to which I have just linked, there is a walk (no 3 to be precise) in “100 Walks In Greater London” which takes in theatreland, and a century ago a map was produced combining London Underground and Theatreland…
THE LONDON TRANSPORT MUSEUM
I have, of course, saved Covent Garden’s most important attraction until last: it is here that you will find the London Transport Museum. This is an absolute treasure house for anyone interested in London Transport. You can explore old rolling stock, look at maps and much else besides. As this shows, the enthusiasm is mutual:
A LITERARY POSTSCRIPT: EDWARD MARSTON
It is a little tenuous but I cannot miss this opportunity to mention one of my favourite writers, Edward Marston. His series set in the Restoration period (a couple of centuries before London Underground – but his Railway Detective series needs only to move forward five more years to overlap with the beginning of London Undeground) features Christopher Redmayne as its leading character, and his errant brother Henry lives at Covent Garden.