Three teams of history hunters will be investigating both the
Palace and the Exhibition. One team -- comprising engineers working
on the Millennium Dome -- will be looking at parallels between
the Palace and the Dome: how the design was chosen and how it
was constructed in such a short time. The second team, made up
of local enthusiasts, want to discover why the Palace was moved
to the site in Sydenham in south London, where it burned down
in 1936, as well as something about the company that ran it. And
the third team -- consisting of a scientist and firefighters from
nearby New Cross Fire Station -- want to find out how the fire
started and how it was fought.
General view of the
Crystal Palace c.1900
|About a year from now, the Millennium Dome will be finished and people from Britain and abroad will be able
to see for themselves whether this expensive, conflict-ridden
project has been worth it. But almost 150 years ago, the British
were having virtually the same arguments about another building
and exhibition -- the Crystal Palace housing the Great Exhibition
||The Crystal Palace in 1911
The teams and their quests
Millennium Dome team
Four engineers working on the construction of the Millennium Dome
for Buro Happold.
Brian Gash Civil engineer
Chew Pieng Ryan Building services engineer
Tania Ross Project manager
Julian Shepherd Structural engineer
They want to know how the Crystal Palace came to be. How did they
pull off the Great Exhibition in only 22 months -- from the germ
of the idea to the opening ceremony?
Four local residents of Crystal Palace.
Ian Bevan Project manager for a gas company and ex-chair of Crystal Palace
Foundation, has written a book on the sporting history of Crystal Palace
Brian Dann Resident of Crystal Palace since 1936 (he witnessed the fire
as a 10-year-old); now a poet and a Crystal Palace Triangle campaigner
Sue Nagle Local shopkeeper
Keith Wyncoll Resident in Crystal Palace for 20 years; moved to Gravesend,
Kent two years ago, where he is community services manager for
Kent Social Services; ex-chair, Crystal Palace Foundation; editor,
Crystal Palace Is on Fire!
They want to discover why Crystal Palace moved to Sydenham after
the Great Exhibition and what effect this had on the building's
Four fire investigators.
Paul Weatherley Watch commander, Beckenham Fire Station -- one of the fire stations
that sent units to the 1936 Crystal Palace fire
John Crowley London Fire Brigade fire investigator, based at New Cross Fire
Ernie Marshall London Fire Brigade fire investigator, based at New Cross Fire
Station. He and John Crowley carry out investigations into unexplained
Nigel Herring Scientist based at Stanger Science & Environment, London, which
provides scientific support for London Fire Brigade fire investigators.
They want to see whether, using modern fire investigation techniques,
they can crack the mystery of the fire -- why did Crystal Palace
burn down in 1936?
The webmaster would like to thank Ken Kiss of the Crystal Palace Museum, Mick Scott of the London Metropolitan
Archives and Michael Gilbert of the Crystal Palace Foundation
for the use of old photographs and archive documents.
||Tony Robinson introduces History Hunters from inside the Millennium