HUNDREDS FLOCK TO FRIENDS’ SUBWAY OPEN DAY AND EXHIBITION (plus: your chance to see a condensed version of the exhibition)
“We were confident the exhibition materials on display were interesting – we weren’t quite prepared for how interesting.”
HUNDREDS OF people flocked to see the Crystal Palace Subway and ‘Inspired by the Subway’ exhibition held as part of the annual Open House London event (20/21 September).
More than 3000 people took part in a ballot for the chance to visit the ornate vaulted walkway which used to lead rail passengers from the High Level station to the Crystal Palace. Places were allocated to 757 people of all ages from across London, Kent, Essex and beyond.
Karl Richter, chairman of the Friends of Crystal Palace subway, said: “Seeing so many people enjoy the subway at the weekend was a visceral reminder of the community interest it generates, both as a contemporary space and also heritage asset.
“We are delighted by the donations (£1460 from bucket collections on both days) which will go towards planning more exciting activities after we install an access gate in the next few months.
“On behalf of everyone who attended, I would like to thank the tireless organising team, volunteers, stewards, tour guides and artists who made it a delightful experience to remember for years to come.”
During the weekend 951 people visited a free exhibition which marked the culmination of a year of hard work to capture the stories of the subway.
‘Inspired by the Subway’, the Friends’ research and oral history project aimed at recording how the subway has changed over the years and what it means to local people, was held at the concert platform in Crystal Palace park.
Visitors pored over a selection of audio visual material and art works inspired by the subway and spoke to volunteer researchers who had worked on the Heritage Lottery funded project.
As part of the exhibition, the Southwark Model Railway Club demonstrated their impressive 32ft model of the High Level station and tracks and – 60 years to the day since the station and subway were closed – ran their model of the steam engine that pulled the very last train.
Inspired by the Subway project manager Sue Giovanni said: “After a year of hard work we were confident the exhibition materials on display were interesting.
“We weren’t quite prepared for how interesting. “Throughout both days the exhibition was close to the capacity number we had set of around 40 people at any one time.
“The model railway took up most of the back stage space in the platform and proved a great attraction, as did the platform building itself.
“On occasions I wondered where all the visitors had vanished to, at which point people could generally be found squeezed into the two video rooms watching the video clips in their entirety.
“The exhibition had queues waiting to come in for much of the time; no one expected that and it really shows what an appetite there is among local people to understand the heritage of their area.”
A condensed version of the exhibition is being housed at the Upper Norwood library on Westow Hill throughout October. The film clips will be played in the downstairs room at the library as follows:
10am – 2pm on Tuesday 7 October
2pm – 6:30pm on Thursday 9 October
2pm – 4:30pm on Saturday 11 October
Later this year many of the exhibition materials will be added to the Friends of Crystal Palace subway website.
For more information on the Crystal Palace subway and the Inspired by the Subway project, please visit www.cpsubway.org.uk You can also follow them on Twitter (@cpsubway) or find them on Facebook.