Crystal Palace subway revamp ‘long overdue’ – and locals says it should go even further

Bromley residents have shared their excitement over the Crystal Palace subway renovation plans -but some say the overhaul should go even further.

The council unanimously voted through plans for the hidden Victorian subway to be restored to its former glory earlier this month.

The £3.2million project will see the space rebuilt later this year after it used to serve as a walkway for first-class passengers to get to the “high level” railway station.

But some locals feel the project should go even further and revive the famous Crystal Palace as well.

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Bernard, a local who did not want to give his surname, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service the subway should be just the start.

He said: “I’m very interested in all of this. It’s part of the history of the area. It’s long overdue.

“I think it’s a good use of public money. I would have liked to have seen the Palace rebuilt in fireproof materials. That burnt down in 1936 and the whole area went downhill after that.

“The whole park is just shabby now. Nobody seems to care.

“It’s about restoring public pride in the area. That’s money well-spent.”

The Crystal Palace was a giant glass and iron structure built in 1851 at Hyde Park to host the Great Exhibition, a celebration of Britain’s industrial era achievements.

Developers are looking to renovate the subway which has decayed over decades

It was later relocated and rebuilt at Sydenham Hill in Bromley before being destroyed by fire in 1936. The Crystal Palace area is named after the building.

There was much excitement among other locals about the subway as well.

Sarah Young, who has previously volunteered with Friends of Crystal Palace Subway, was passing by and gave her thoughts on the renovation.

She said: “When I first moved here 15 years ago, it was one of those places I saw a picture of but I realised I couldn’t get in there. When the group [Friends of Crystal Palace Subway] opened it up, I was really excited. It’s a part of local heritage.

“So I did a bit of volunteering helping out with safety when people were going down there [during tours].”

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Campaign group Friends of Crystal Palace Subway is one of the main driving forces behind the renovation and has kept locals interested in the project through exhibition days.

Other residents, such as Miranda McFarlane, saw the value in the project but understood the reservations of some.

She said: “I thought it was a nice thing to be doing. I think it’s an important part of the history of Crystal Palace and restoring it is valuable, even if some people might argue there are other priorities [that we should focus on].

“I think it demonstrates the value in the place and it’s nice to live in a place that has money put towards it and investment.

“But I don’t know the history of it and why it’s not been [renovated] earlier, so there may be valid reasons as why this may not be the best time to be doing it given Covid has caused financial ruin to so many people.”

Angela Wilkins, councillor for the Crystal Palace ward, said: “This is something that many people have worked on for many years now. I am absolutely delighted and can’t wait to see the work done and our stunning subway being used by the community.”

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