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Coloured [Auction] Plan of the Crystal Palace 1911

( GREAT EXHIBITION, London ) ( Knight, Frank & Rutley, Ltd ) CRYSTAL PALACE


Published: Knight Frank & Rutley, 1911

Stock code: 3441

Price: £1,200.00

This is an engraved and coloured plan of the Crystal Palace prepared for the intended sale at auction of the buildings and grounds in 1911 (see below). The retaining envelope is printed 'PLAN OF THE CRYSTAL PALACE 1851-1911. Solicitors: Messrs Janson Cobb, Pearson & Company, 22 College Hill, E.C.; Receiver and Manager: Mr. Ernest I Husey (Messrs Jackson, Pixley & Co., Chartered Accountants, 58 Coleman Street, E.C; Auctioneers: Mr. Howard Frank (Messrs Knight, Frank & Rutley), 20 Hanover Sq, London W; and Mr. John Roy Lancaster (Messrs Horne & Co), 85 Gresham Street, E.C.' The plan in well executed and colour-coded to indicate the various leases and tenancies involved. It shows the scale and local context of the magnificent building, together with its world-famous gardens and grounds, including the tiered sculptural terraces, the patios, and the renowned lakes and fountains. Key features such as the Flying Machine, the Maze, Brunel's Polygonal Water Towers, the Lower Lake area housing Waterhouse Hawkins' recreations of dinosaurs (still present today) and the Sports Grounds are clearly highlighted. HISTORICAL CONTEXT. After the Great Exhibition of 1851, the Crystal Palace was re-erected in a considerably enlarged form in 1854 at Sydenham in South London. During the next half century it continued as a major metropolitan tourist attraction attracting visitors from all over the world to marvel at the building, its contents and gardens, and to witness a wide variety of entertainment including music, acrobatics, circuses and fireworks. By the turn of the century, however, the novelty was wearing thin and the number of visitors declined to the point where in 1911 the Palace was declared bankrupt and placed in the hands of a receiver. 'On 28 November it was to be sold by auction, to be offered in one lot as a going concern. This was a fateful period in its history. There was grave danger that it would pass into the hands of the developers. Every jerry builder within striking distance was eager for the moment when he might be in a position to swoop down on the beautiful grounds and reduce them to terms of bricks and mortar. But that ultimate indignity was not to be. The Earl of Plymouth produced £230,000 to buy the Palace as a going concern; at the same time the Lord Mayor of London opened a fund to purchase the Crystal Palace for the nation, and to reimburse Lord Plymouth. This was completed in 1913 and the Crystal Palace was saved.' [A.R. Warwick: The Phoenix Suburb (1972)]. During the Great War the revitalised Palace served as a Royal Naval base (HMS VICTORY VI). At the end of hostilities it became for a short time the home of the Imperial War Museum and then reverted to tourism with exhibitions of early flying, pioneer television, dirt-track racing, music festivals, dog and cat shows, dancing and fireworks. In this way it continued until completely destroyed by the tragic fire of 30 November 1936 - the end of a great era. IT IS UNCERTAIN HOW MANY OF THESE ELABORATE PLANS WERE PRODUCED, BUT THE NUMBER CANNOT HAVE BEEN GREAT. GIVEN THAT £230,000 (VERY APPROXIMATELY £7M BY TODAY'S STANDARDS) WAS REQUIRED TO OBVIATE THE NEED FOR SALE, THE NUMBER OF INTENDING BIDDERS MUST HAVE BEEN FEW INDEED. IN ANY CASE IT IS UNLIKELY THAT MANY COPIES SURVIVE, ESPECIALLY IN THIS VIRTUALLY UNOPENED STATE COMPLETE WITH ORIGINAL ENVELOPE. A DOCUMENT OF CONSIDERABLE SIGNIFICANCE IN THE HISTORY OF SOUTH LONDON, AND A VIVID REMINDER OF ONE OF LONDON'S GREATEST HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS.