Crystal Palace Park - History and Facts | History Hit

Crystal Palace Park

London, England, United Kingdom

Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Crystal Palace Park

Crystal Palace Park is am 80 hectare Grade II* listed Victorian pleasure grounds located in the south London suburb of Crystal Palace. It surrounds the site of the former Crystal Palace Exhibition building. The park features full-scale models of dinosaurs in a landscape, a maze, lakes, and a concert bowl.

History of Crystal Palace Park

The Crystal Palace and Park were built between 1852 and 1855. It was designed to be a magnificent accompaniment to the relocated Crystal Palace, which had previously been located in Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition of 1851.

As one of the main aims of the park was to impress and educate, there was a thematic emphasis on discovery and invention. As a result, pioneering geological illustrations and full scale models of dinosaurs were added to the site.

The park officially opened in 1856. It was transformed in 1911 for the Festival of the Empire, with a railway and many buildings designed to represent the Empire being installed and remaining until the 1940s.

In 1936, The Crystal Palace was tragically destroyed by fire, after which the park experienced a period of dereliction and decay. Though a number of plans to rebuilt the Palace and redevelop the park were drawn up, none were fully implemented.

In 1937, a motor racing circuit was opened at the park, which remained in use until 1972. During the Second World War, the site became a place for military vehicle dismantling and later as a site for bomb damage rubble.

In the 1960s the Park underwent its biggest regeneration project to date, with the site being remodelled to incorporate the National Sports Centre and Athletics Stadium.

In 1986, the London Borough of Bromley took ownership of the site, with a first phase of restoration work, over approximately a third of the site, taking place between 2001 and 2003. This restoration work included the geological illustrations and life-sized dinosaurs.

Crystal Palace Park Today

Today, the park’s full-scale dinosaur models, lakes, maze, and concert bowl are popular sites amongst tourists and locals alike.

A number of regeneration projects are being proposed to further develop the park as a place of fun and recreation, and was originally intended, as well as celebration of its excellent landscape and horticulture.

The park is free to enter.

Getting to Crystal Palace Park

The park is served by Transport for London (buses and London Overground) and numerous rail operators.

The current Crystal Palace rail station (CYP) at the side of the park dates from the 19th century and was used by visitors to the original amusement park. Other nearby train stations include Penge West and Penge East.

There is also free parking available. The closest car park to the Dinosaurs is at the Penge entrance off Thicket Road, where there is also an information centre, public toilets, and a café. The other two car parks are accessed from Anerley Hill and Crystal Palace Park Road.


Featured In

Victorian Sites in England

Explore England's Victorian heritage through these 10 dazzling sites, from Osborne House to Crystal Palace Park, as well as some lesser-known yet important gems.