Plans to restore the grade II* listed subway at the top of Crystal Palace has been given approval by Bromley Council, allowing the restoration works to start later this year.
The subway owes its existence to the Crystal Palace and the arrival of a High-Level railway station next to the Palace. To get from the railway to the palace, if you were first class, there’s a grand subway under the road leading to your private entrance. After the palace burnt down, the station declined, closed and was demolished, leaving behind just the Victorian subway, which has been decaying ever since.
It’s now on the Heritage at Risk Register, but a campaign has been raising funds to restore it.
The restoration works will see the repair of the Victorian subway, including the rebuilding of existing walls, construction of new parapet walls, and replacing the roof that was lost in the years following the great fire of 1936. That plan has now been granted planning permission.
It can be described as being in three zones — three sets of grand staircases leading to the Palace above, a once glass-roofed atrium, and the famous brick subway itself.
A proposed new roof will be visible from Crystal Palace Parade, with the subway exterior being made from glass and stainless steel, and the gable enclosed with Corten steel. It is envisaged that the following restoration works, the subway will be removed from the Heritage at Risk Register.
The estimated £3.2m cost of restoring the subway follows successful grant allocations of £2.3m from the City of London Strategic Investment Pot and an additional £500k from Historic England. Contributions to the works are also coming from the Friends of Crystal Palace Subway.
To date, survey work has been undertaken and the site has been cleared of vegetation. The clearance uncovered the remains of the subway’s south staircase that has been inaccessible since the early 1900s.
Works on the restoration will start later this year.
Although the subway’s future is still to be determined, it is envisaged that following restoration, the site will become a multi-functional space that will be accessible throughout much of the year. At present, no commercial proposals for the function of Subway have been established.
The subway straddles the boundary between Bromley and Southwark, and a separate application is pending at Southwark for their side of the site, which is a small open terrace on the side closest to the former railway station.