Touring the Crystal Palace Subway conservation

Our team were excited to attend a private tour of the historic Crystal Palace Subway during its extensive renovation.

Following the London Festival of Architecture, which took place throughout the whole of June, our team were delighted to attend a private tour by DBR Limited of the Grade II listed Crystal Palace Subway; celebrating the striking architecture and engineering we have ‘in common’ with our local community.

Hidden under Crystal Place Park’s Parade in south-east London, the stunning Victorian relic was originally opened on 23 December 1865 as a walkthrough for first class passengers to Prince Albert’s famous Crystal Place (designed by Sir Joseph Paxton as home to the Great Exhibition of 1851) from the High-Level Station.

Designed by Charles Barry Junior, the Subway’s groined arches of coloured brick and stone was considered a grandeur of architecture and a fitting approach to the Crystal Palace before it was destroyed by a fire in November 1936.

Restoring a piece of history

Having withstood many landmark events in its 155-year history, from being used as an air raid shelter during World War II to a cultural events space for the local community in more recent years, the Subway has undergone several modifications in its lifetime.

In January 2022, the Friends of Crystal Palace Subway (FCPS) received a grant of £2.34m to restore the much-loved community asset as part of the first Phase of the park’s wider regeneration scheme. This includes the rebuilding of existing walls, construction of new parapet walls, and a roof structure. Under the supervision of award-winning conservative architects, Thomas Ford & Partners, the latest reparative works aim to enable the removal of Historic England’s ‘at risk’ status and reinstate access to this multi-functional community space for years to come.

Sam King, Mosaic CSE’s Senior Revit Technician, commented on the tour, “I was looking forward to visiting this interesting renovation project of a local heritage site, and to see something outside of the norm. It was fascinating to see the masonry taking shape and learning about the timber former technique used to build the original fan vaults. It was also interesting to understand how the design team used ground anchors to stabilise the existing retained ground, something that relates back to some of the projects we’re working on here at Mosaic. Crystal Palace has special significance to me as I was born here before moving away at a young age, so it was a great opportunity to see the site’s transformation – and spend time with my colleagues.”