It’s the once breath-taking Victorian remanent that has lain dormant underground for decades, slowly falling into disrepair and suffering from the lack of major investment such delicate, historic precincts require.
But now the first major on-the-ground steps of the multi-million pound restoration of Crystal Palace Subway have begun, with detailed survey work on the condition of the venue underway.
The project – hailed as the best chance the grade-II listed site has ever had at being restored – is a three way partnership including site owners Bromley Council, residents group the Friends of Crystal Palace Subway, and Sydenham-based conservation architect firm Thomas Ford and Partners.
A spokesperson of The Friends of Crystal Palace Subway, the key community driver behind the project, said they were confident the move would preserve the site for future generations.
“Local support for this important project continues to be strong and we are now in a better position than ever before to achieve this much needed restoration,” a spokesperson for the group said.
With £2.34 million in funding already secured following a successful award from the City of London’s Strategic Investment Pot and a donation from the Friends of Crystal Palace Subway, it is hoped the project will eventually see the structure removed from Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register.
Bromley Council, in documents voted on earlier this year, hope the restoration will help create “a new cultural destination” in south London.
Update on its way. Watch this space. pic.twitter.com/x7rdh497hC
— Crystal Palace Subway (@cpsubway) July 29, 2020
Multiple councillors praised the work following the announcement.
Cllr Peter Morgan, the executive member for renewal, recreation and housing said the restoration would help continue “to build our knowledge of local heritage”.
“The restoration of such a significant historical asset will be very positive news indeed and the survey work is very much part of that fantastic news,” he said.
It also received praise from Crystal Palace ward member, Angela Wilkins.
“The subway is simply an incredible and beautiful example of the park’s history and heritage,” Cllr Wilkins said.
“Huge amounts of work have been done in recent years by the Friends group and others to get us this far. This grant is a fantastic investment that will mean people can actually make respectful and controlled use of a stunning amenity which has been inaccessible for years.”
Situated on the edge of Crystal Palace Park, the subway was first opened in 1865 and is one of the last remaining structures of the original Crystal Palace.
Public access to the subway is currently restricted, but the restoration is programmed for completion and reopening to the public in late summer 2022.