Photograph of the Demolition of the Crystal Palace, 1936 Essays

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Photograph of the Demolition of the Crystal Palace, 1936

The Crystal Palace designed by Joseph Paxton stood for eighty-five years. It succumbed to fire "at six o'clock on the evening of 30th November 1936" (Beaver, 141). A fire was discovered in the staff lavatory, and within minutes the whole structure was ablaze. The spectacular building was engulfed in fire as it dissolved into just a skeleton of its former structure. Paxton used innovative methods of construction on the Crystal Palace, greatly influenced by the bridge and train shed construction of the day. With the introduction of iron elements, architects could be more creative, and more "modern" with their designs, straying from classical precedents.

Paxton, with engineers Fox …show more content…

Once it was transferred to Sydenham, the Palace became a symbol of England's industrial power and political prestige. The Crystal Palace was "a monumental relic of the golden age" and its destruction was devastating to the people of England (Beaver, 143). When the Crystal Palace burned a cultural symbol was destroyed and part of England as well.

The image of the great Palace in flames must have been one of great awe and sadness. The fire spread quickly as "the dry wood of the gallery floorboards, the walls and the sashes burnt like tinder", "within half an hour the building was an inferno from end to end" (Beaver, 141). Firefighters came from all over London to fight the blaze, "89 engines and 381 firemen" joining to save the structure (Beaver, 141). The fire surely spread quickly as poor ventilation and a greenhouse-like atmosphere fueled the flames. The materials, glass, wood and iron, all highly flammable, increased the speed at which the fire destroyed the building. Glass sheets created in a "length of 49 inches" (Cowper, 2) were specially designed by the Chance Brothers, "the only glass manufacturers in England who were capable of producing anything like the quantity that Paxton was going to need" (Hobhouse, 39). During the fire "whole squares of glass were blown high into the air to dash down in the surrounding streets" (Beaver, 141). According to Patrick Beaver in The Crystal Palace, 1851-1936: a portrait of Victorian Enterprise "the destruction

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