Le Jardin Anglais
Rogue Leaflets
Various local groups listed
Traffic - parking innovation
Chairman of the Crystal Palace Community Forum and the Crystal Palace Museum speaks...
Gateway to the future
Prince Albert's Secret
You be the judge
Birthday Drawing
Our day in court
The things they say
The things we say

"Le Jardin Anglais", Versailles (August 1999)

A strange irony in the way in which this important piece of French Heritage (and the third most visited monument in France) is treated compared to our own (much more modest) Crystal Palace Park.

The Palace of Versailles is situated about 19km southwest of Paris. Louis XIII first had a house there - no more than a hunting lodge - on a small hill surrounded by game forests and marshland. Louis XIV loved the place as a boy and when in 1661, at the age of 23, he began to reign in his own right, he determined to turn it into a great palace. He was spurred on by his envy of his finance minister's chateau at Vaux-le-Vicomte. Further, he hated Paris and had unhappy memories of his childhood experiences there during the "Fronde" - a revolt by the nobility against the centralised power of the monarchy during the Regency period when Mazarin virtually ruled the country. Construction of the Palace began in 1664 and lasted virtually until Louis XIV's death in 1715. In 1682 the Court moved from the Louvre to Versailles even though the work had not yet been finished.

Louis XV altered the Royal Apartments to gain more privacy for himself and his Queen. Near the end of his reign in 1761, using the architect A. J. Gabriel, he built the "Petit Trianon" (about 1.5km west of the main Palace) for his mistress Madame Marie Jeanne Becu Dubarry (comtesse 1743-1793). It was set in an "English Style" garden including an exquisite summer house placed high above a small lake.

One of the sphinx-like figures surrounding the summer house.


The English Garden at Versailles is subject to a 25 year restoration programme to put it back to its original eighteenth century condition. The restoration is clearly driven by a vision and determination that an important part of the Versailles heritage should not be lost to future generations.

Can we compare the park of Versailles to the Crystal Palace Park? Perhaps only to note the irony that the French authorities have chosen to preserve an English Landscaped Garden/Park while our local council, in whose jurisdiction Crystal Palace Park falls, has chosen to opt for an approach which seems dedicated to destroy much of our own park's heritage.

Further information on The Palace of Versailles try: http://www.chateauversailles.com/

Webmaster (25 August 1999)
Sphiinx added 24/9/99 - she has the head and shoulders of a woman and the body of a lion. She is quite small her head being about a metre off the ground and her body about 1.5m long. She has a sad look to her and (this one) gazes sternly over the lake below.

LEAFLETS - BEWARE! - or... don't believe everything you read!

A leaflet was passed on to me by a concerned supporter. The text gave a limited and inaccurate account of the campaign against Bromley Council's development plans in Crystal Palace Park. It was negative about the work of the Crystal Palace Campaign and criticised the Campaign for its failure to offer funds to the eco-warriors.

The document was not signed.

Of course anyone can support the group of their choice and there are quite a few organisations around the Palace Park - some working to save the Park, some set up by Bromley Council and some with no direct connection with the conflict. Our Crystal Palace Campaign was set up to oppose the development currently on offer from Bromley principally by taking forward the legal challenge. Since we hold money and pledges donated by the public to carry out the fight in the courts, we have a responsibility to the donors not to risk these funds by being sued for supporting actions on the fringe of legality.

We feel that a warning is necessary.

Please be clear about whom you are supporting when you make contributions, sign petitions or offer to deliver leaflets.

This group, the group represented on this website, is the:

We always identify ourselves, work under no other name and although we share common views on the Park developments with some other groups we are not affiliated to any of them in any way.

Here is a list of other known groups:

Eco Warriors: occupied the ridge site until Bromley Council took them to court at the beginning of the year (1999). With considerable courage and determination, they resisted the eviction attempts of the bailiffs but they no longer occupy the site.

The Ridge Wildlife Group: as the name suggests, they were set up to protect the trees on the ridge and fight against the destruction of the natural habitat.

The Crystal Palace Protest: began as a fund raising arm of the Ridge Wildlife Group. They have since mounted their own legal challenges in the courts relating to the destruction of the natural habitats and are active in setting up demonstrations.

The Crystal Palace Foundation: is an independent charitable trust established in 1979 whose aim is to maintain interest in the history of the Crystal Palace and Park and assist the work of the museum.

The Crystal Palace Partnership: is Bromley Council's mouthpiece on the Park development.

The Crystal Palace Triangle Community Association (CPTCA): is an amenity group whose membership is largely drawn from residents and traders in and about the Upper Norwood Triangle. At a recent meeting (July 1999) to elect officers, the members attending declared themselves overwhelmingly against the multiplex development.

The Boycott-UCI group: is a direct action protest group lawfully demonstrating outside UCI cinemas mainly Leicester Square, London. They have been at it more or less weekly since March 1999 (for almost a year as I write this) and recently participated with the crystal Palace Campaign in a Nationwide demonstration outside almost all UCI cinemas in the UK.

update 11/7/99, 10/3/00


Word of a breakthrough new scheme is reported here to alleviate all our parking problems. If you have a better - let us know.
go to
(NB file is 98k)

The words of Barry McKay,

Chairman of both the Crystal Palace Community Forum and the Crystal Palace Museum.

TO Time Out,

March 31 - April 7 1999 pp10-11

And so the arguments swing back and forth. In the final analysis it is hard to see what all the fuss was about. Barrie McKay, chairman of both Crystal Palace Community Forum and the Crystal Palace Museum, can see all sides. "I know what they're saying about the trees and grass, but this is not a six-lane motorway going through virgin countryside. I quite admire these protesters but they have go to get some perspective. I think they are a bit arrogant in their assumptions. There are just a few hundred of them, and the silent majority wants this. This is derelict brownfield. It has been closed off for 60 years. I can't understand why they were here really."

TO Dear Museum Volunteer

Honorary President the Duke of Devonshire, P.C., M.C.
Anerley Hill, London SE19 2BA
Tel/Fax: 0181-676 0700

11 February 1999

Re-development of former site of the Crystal Palace

First may I thank you for the time you have given to steward the museum. I am sorry it has taken so long to contact you in this respect.

It is hoped that with the formation of a new museum management team which is being set up between the Museum Trust and the CPF, communication with all museum volunteers will improve and develop.

In the meantime I have to report that I have recently received complaints about some of the museum's volunteers openly speaking about the above scheme in rather derogatory terms.

As an officially registered museum we have certain obligations to the public and in the main should be restricted to promoting the history of events of the Crystal Palace (1851 - 1936).

The museum should be impartial and not seen as being biased to any single cause or issue.

It is important to note that volunteers of the museum are seen by the public to represent the museum and anything said by volunteers is taken as the museum's position or view.

Therefore it is important that volunteers refrain in entering any discussion about the top site which is interpreted as being bias for or against such a scheme.

The only involvement the Museum Trustees have with regard the proposed re-development has been to ensure the continuance of the museum and that any change of landscape surrounding the museum will be done to improve and enhance the museum setting.

Yours sincerely


Barrie McKay, Chairman

[Webmaster comment: So from this we understand that the chairman can enter into the fray about the top site but the volunteers cannot - even though, as volunteers, they clearly have a great concern for both (i) the fate of the site and heritage of one of the greatest buildings of Victorian times and (ii) the proposals for destroying the park landscape. Oops, sorry - showing my own bias... but then this is the official Crystal Palace Campaign web site.

I should add that the Time Out article was remarkable in its total lack of understanding of what the protest is all about, who is making the running and why. Just to get it clear, the Crystal Palace Campaign (not connected with any other protest group) is opposed to Bromley's current plans for the development of the top site of Crystal Palace Park. Further, many aspects of the proposals for the rest of the park are misguided (to be kind) and some of them are just plain daft! A Council which can sanction a rusty steel fortress-box (the concert platform) to reside in an English Landscape Garden cannot really be surprised when its judgment in related aesthetic matters is challenged - especially when the same architect (Ian Ritchie) was chosen to perpetrate the destruction of the top site as well.

"The only involvement the museum trustees have... (is to) ensure that any change of landscape surrounding the museum... (will) improve and enhance the museum setting." Don't you just love the idea of the museum surrounded by fields of crumpled aluminium foil and strands of magnetic recording tape vibrating in the wind? Nice one Barrie!

"There are just a few hundred of them" said Barrie McKay. Let me set him straight. Six to seven hundred people have turned turn up at public meetings on each occasion; the anti- letters to Bromley Council far outweigh the pro- letters (I believe by 20 to 1); estimates of 900 were suggested in the press for the attendance at the demonstration against UCI in Leicester Square; more than 1500 turned out for the public meeting with Tessa Jowell in April (99) and, to date, there are about 16,000 signatures on the Campaign petition - with the figure still growing. The Campaigners are the very young, the middle aged, the old, school children, professionals, "workers" - in fact people of all ages and from all walks of life. This is not the unthinking rabble which Barrie McKay implies - this is an articulate, strong, large grouping of committed protesters - strong enough to have kept Bromley Council from completing the planning application for the last two years and, I believe, strong enough to continue the fight. For that is what it regrettably has become - due solely to the intransigence of Bromley Council. ]

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Gateway to the future


Croydon Guardian Wednesday 17th February 1999

The long-awaited, state-of-the-art Croydon Arena could be the key card in bringing the Olympics to London. according to the deputy leader of Croydon Council.

After years of negotiations and compromise, Councillor Adrian Dennis has revealed outline plans for an imposing 10,000 seat arena on the Gateway site. Developers CDC has lodged an application for a package which includes a multiplex cinema, a hotel, retail units and a supermarket. The council has also pushed to have a swimming pool included in the site as a replacement for the demolished Water Palace.

"This will be the biggest arena in London and the most accessible in the whole country," said Coun. Dennis.

"If it gets the go-ahead then any future bid to bring the Olympics to London will be greatly enhanced."

The application, which includes a car park, will come before the planning committee in June. If given the green light, it will then go to full council in July for final approval.

The outcome of the East Croydon site has been under discussion for years. Past proposals included a ski slope.

If the current proposals are agreed, the desolate eight-acre site will see an explosion of development after more than 30 years of stagnation. Development of the land has been particularly difficult because of the multi-ownership of the site.

"We consider it is good news for Croydon," said Tony Borsay of CDC. "It's within Croydon's 2020 proposals and with trams, trains and bus links it's ideally suited for public transport users."
[Is this a rival to Bromley and London & Regional Properties?-Ed.]

Prince Albert's Secret

After years underneath a canopy the Albert Memorial was officially opened last month (October 1998). The craftsmanship of the restoration is stunning and so is the little revelation below of the drawing Albert is holding! He is sitting opposite the Albert Hall NEAR the spot where the original exhibition building of 1851 was sited*.

Photograph from the Crystal Palace section of the Channel 4 Time Team History Hunters' web site.
Credit: Channel 4 Television/Simon Williams.

*the building was, in fact to the east of where Albert currently resides

You Be The Judge

The 1990 Crystal Palace Act says that any new building on the site must reflect the architectural style of the original Palace. Bromley Council says it does. Their deafness to our voice is legendary. Perhaps they are blind too. What do you think?


and the Beast

This is our impression of the view that Bromley never lets you see. The concrete vehicle ramps at the sides and front of the building are supported on vast concrete stanchions.

The 18 screen mega-multiplex development will be the size of 2 football stadiums laid end to end and have 950 cars on the rooftop. And don't forget the amusement arcades, fast-food restaurants and 'leisure boxes' (we can't be precise - the developer won't tell us...). Throw in the huge roadworks in the park and surrounding area and the tunnel entrance into the park up Anerley Hill, open it till 2 am, 365 days a year and you have an ugly, excessive construction bringing congestion, pollution, crime and a hard urban edge to this small neighbour- hood. The community has overwhelmingly rejected this development but Bromley, which will receive over £6 million from the lease of this site, has ignored the community's voice. Isn't it time now that Bromley listened?

(from Crystal Palace Campaign News - October 1998)
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Rendition of the Crystal Palace at Sydenham (artist unknown) on the occasion of the 18th Birthday of the school building but 150 years since it was founded 1834-1984. The drawing appeared on the birthday mug!

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Our Day In Court

On 2nd September the community packed out the Lord Chief Justice's Court. There was respect, hush, and tension. The Campaign's barrister made a quiet, reasoned, effective plea for a full judicial review. When he had finished, the Judges left the Court for 15 nail-biting minutes. They returned and said that they thought our case arguable, but would hear Bromley and the developer. Their barristers tried to change the Judges' mind, but the Judges became more resolute. To much laughter, Lord Justice Chadwick said that, on the developer's reasoning, his greenhouse and Stansted airport were in the same architectural style. The term "post-modern monstrosity" was coined, which we thought apt. Then the Judges took an unprecedented step. They decided that the case was of such importance that the full judicial review should be heard by 3 judges of the Court of Appeal. We tumbled out, elated, exhausted and looking forward to the final hearing. Please come and show solidarity: we'll publicise the date.

(from Crystal Palace Campaign News - October 1998)
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The things they say:

"We'll build it and worry about the traffic later."

Bromley Councillor


"She brought it on herself"

A Bromley Solicitor, explaining why Bromley had sued as a squatter a 78 year old woman who had brought bread pudding to the eco-warriors


"Given the people around Crystal Palace and their leisure activity preferences, the building could include activities such as bingo, an extremely valuable sociable activity for poorer, older women."

Bromley's Director of Leisure Services


"Building is an act of economic and cultural virility"

The building's architect, Ian Ritchie, perhaps explaining why he never puts curvy bits in. (Ritchie's last great achievement, the rusting concert platform)


"You'll grow to like it."

Bromley's Director of Leisure Services, to a resident who disliked Ritchie's last great achievement, the rusting concert platform.

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The things we say,

Recently, Bromley opened a comments book to the public. They shut it soon

after! This is why:

"A monstrous carbuncle"

" I can't bear to look at it. Having known the old building and grounds my heart grieves."

"No more pollution for our children."

"Bromley councillors should be ashamed of themselves."

"Parks are our heritage and the heritage of our children."

"I am nine years old and I think it is a disgrace."

"It will reduce the quality of life for all residents of Crystal Palace."

"What sort of Council could even consider such an idea?"

"The building will be for profit and not for the park."

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Last updated 26/8/99