Absorbed by the chaos of London living it’s easy to miss the finer details of this strange city.
But just as much as Londoners themselves can tell the story of the capital, so too can these little features.
Even if they’re not all happy stories to tell.
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Maybe it’s the blue plaques high above the pavement, a little statue down a side street or an abandoned platform thousands of commuters pass each week.
Crystal Palace Overground Station in South London has one such unused platform.
And the story behind this empty space in an otherwise busy station is truly heart breaking.
(Image: Wikimedia Commons)
The station was first opened in 1854 when the famous Crystal Palace was moved from Hyde Park following the Great Exhibition of 1851.
This huge building of steel and glass was like nothing ever seen before, taking advantage of the latest technological developments in manufacturing.
It awed visitors and its’ strange exhibitions of things from around the world drew thousands of people a day.
The station was built to cater for all these leisure seekers, along with another one known as the Crystal Palace (High Level) railway station.
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Except all good things come to an end.
The popularity of the Palace declined and the company that owned it fell into debt.
Then in 1936 tragedy struck.
A fire that broke in one of the offices soon got out of control.
Firefighters were called from across South London but it was too late.
(Image: Public Domain)
The inferno burnt the iconic Crystal Palace to the ground and Londoners lost this magnificent building.
Imagine what it’d be like today – heading there to see South London’s answer to Alexandra Palace.
After the fire the passenger numbers at the station unsurprisingly plummeted.
After all who wants to visit a smouldering ruin?
Most services were diverted onto the London-Croydon line and Crystal Palace became the far quieter station it is today.
Two platforms used by terminating trains were abandoned in the 1970s. One later reopened in 2010 as part of the East London Line development.
The other sits there, unused with an ignominious sign reading: “Do not alight here”.
And no one does.
A sad reminder of the palace that South London lost.
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