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a chronology

1848 Second Royal Society of the Arts (RSA) exhibition attracts 70,000 visitors.
24 July RSA council meeting: Henry Cole suggests regular RSA exhibitions in conjunction with Board of Trade.
1849 Third RSA exhibition very successful.
11th quinquennial exhibition in Paris.
30 June Buckingham Palace meeting: Prince Albert, William Cubitt, John Scott Russell, Cole. Decide on exhibition and establish its character.
17 October Mansion House meeting enlists City support.
October/November Cole and others personally visit manufacturing towns around the country to enlist support.
1850 January Royal Commission takes over from RSA
24 January Building committee appointed: Duke of Buccleuch, Lord Ellesmere, Charles Barry, Robert Cockerell, Donaldson, Robert Stephenson, Cubitt, Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
22 March Mansion House dinner: important for fundraising.
8 April Deadline for architectural competition.
9 May Building committee reports to commission, rejecting all 245 plans and submitting their own.
May/June Public outcry over the commission's design.
11 June Joseph Paxton meets William Ellis MP, chairman of Midland Railway, at House of Commons and asks if he can submit a design.
21 June Paxton/Stephenson railway journey.
22 June Paxton takes his plans to Lord Granville.
24 June Paxton/Prince Albert meeting.
29 June Building committee meets.
end June Cole goes to builders Messrs Fox and Henderson and gets them to tender for both designs.
6 July Illustrated London News publishes Paxton's design.
10 July Paxton's preliminary plans are submitted to the committee.
11 July Building committee reports receiving 19 tenders from contractors and a design from Paxton.
15 July Paxton telegraphs his wife that his plans have been accepted.
30 July Messrs Fox and Henderson take over the ground.
August Cubitt (president of the Institute of Civil Engineers) superintends construction.
26 September First column fixed in place.
end September Sightseers allowed to watch the works for 5 shillings.
October Safety tests.
November Punch coins the name 'Crystal Palace'.
13 November Paxton gives a paper at the RSA on the evolution of the design.
early December Transept ribs raised.
1851 1 February Public announcement that the building is ready to receive goods.
1 May Opening ceremony.
July Paxton petitions Parliament to retain Crystal Palace in Hyde Park after the Great Exhibition closes.
11 October Great Exhibition closes to the general public.
15 October Prince Albert conducts closing ceremony; doors close for the last time.
1852 early April Paxton secures money for the Crystal Palace Company flotation.
30 April House of Commons votes for removal of Crystal Palace from Hyde Park.
18 May Crystal Palace Company prospectus provides for £500,000 capital in 100,000 £5 shares.
5 August First column raised at Sydenham.
? August Accident on site kills 12 workmen. Paxton moves into Rockhills to oversee work.
1853 Prehistoric animals built by Waterhouse Hawkins and placed on island in the lake.
November Queen Victoria pays private visit to site.
1854 10 June Crystal Palace at Sydenham opens -- a year late.
December Paxton becomes MP for Coventry
1855 April Visit to Crystal Palace by Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie.
2 June Royal Horticultural fete and show held at Crystal Palace, attended by 30,000 people.
1857 Organ installed.
July First Great Handel Festival: over 2,000 singers and 386 instrumentalists watched by an average of 13,000 people during limited performances.
1859 Official 'Crystal Palace Aeronaut', Henry Croxwell, begins to take passengers up in a balloon to a height of 2,000 feet [610m].
1861 February Crystal Palace damaged in a gale.
1862 Second international exhibition held in South Kensington.
First performance of a music piece by 19-year-old Arthur Sullivan, held at Crystal Palace.
1865 8 June Paxton dies.
July First firework display -- a competition between different manufacturers -- seen by 20,000 paying visitors. Won by Charles Thomas Brock, whose family (except for 1910-20) remained responsible for the displays for as long as the Crystal Palace remained standing.
1866 30 December Fire destroys North Wing and North Transept (including the natural history collection with its animals and birds), various Courts of Art, the Royal Apartments, the Library and the Printing Offices. Only part of the North Wing is replaced.
1868 Crystal Palace presents first showing of moving pictures to a large audience. Zoetrope projector (powered by a gas engine) showed 'The Conjurer', 'The Acrobat', 'The Umbrella Man' and 'Jim Crow'.
June First-ever Aeronautical Exhibition held at Crystal Palace: 77 exhibits, including engines, balloons, kites, models and plans for machines not yet built.
1872 Aquarium opens.
1891 Electric lighting installed (and, considering the state of the company's finances, was probably never upgraded).
1902 First manned airship ascent in Britain made from Crystal Palace by Stanley Spencer
1903 First motor show to be organised by Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. With 180 exhibitors, it is largest in the world so far
1909 Crystal Palace Company runs out of money. Plans made to sell the remainder of the land for building houses.
1910 June-July Claude Grahame-White pilots two aeroplane flights every Tuesday evening, flying 8 miles [12.87km] over Norwood and Penge.
1911 Festival of Empire held, in honour of George V's coronation. Includes models of all Commonwealth parliament buildings, and Pageant of London with a cast of hundreds.
Crystal Palace Company declared bankrupt.
To save building from the developers, Duke of Plymouth buys whole concern for £230,000.
6 June Fire in smoking and billiard room; damage to wood panelling, balcony and floor.
1913 King Edward National Memorial Fund (begun by Lord Mayor of London two years earlier) buys Palace for the nation.
Board of trustees formed, who appoint Henry Buckland as general manager.
1914-18 During World War I, Crystal Palace used as naval barracks (known as HMS Victory VI), housing up to 13,000 sailors.
1920 9 February Fire in theatre property room; £1,700 worth of damage.
June Crystal Palace reopened to the public by George V and Queen Mary as Imperial War Museum.
9 June Fire involving outside wall of Aquarium; £900 worth of damage.
1923 23 March Fire in South Transept staff room and war exhibition section; £5,000 worth of damage.
1933 July The Baird Company, headed by television inventor John Logie Baird, moves to Crystal Palace. Occupies 40,000 sq. ft [3,716sq. m] under the main concourse and adjoining the tunnel connecting the two towers, as well as having use of the School of Arts building, the South Tower and (later) the Rotunda.
1936 30 November Crystal Palace destroyed by fire. Blaze initially discovered by Sir Henry Buckland and his daughter Crystal.
Fire destroys most of Baird television facilities, which contributes to decision to discontinue transmissions.
1937 Crystal Palace site cleared, leaving only the two water towers.
19 August Fire in Palace Club. Remains of skating rink destroyed during demolition works.
1938 John Logie Baird's colour television pictures transmitted to Dominion Theatre in London from South Tower.
1941-42 Believing that they would provide a convenient landmark for German bombers, the two water towers are demolished.
1950 24 October School of Art and remains of South Wing destroyed by fire.
1951 LCC (Crystal Palace) Act passed by Parliament, giving responsibility for the Palace site to the London County Council.
1960 Building of Crystal Palace National Recreation Centre begun.
1964 13 July Recreation centre opened by Duke of Edinburgh.
1969 1 January Name changed to Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.