Letter: Resurrection of Crystal Palace

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The Independent Online
From Mr Stephen King

Sir: I write in support of the proposals to rebuild the Crystal Palace using money from the Millennium Commission ("Crystal Palace may rise from the ashes", 18 October). I am a civil engineer and made a study of the original palace using the records of the Commissioners of the 1851 Exhibition.

Although I am confident that the Crystal Palace could be rebuilt, which one would be chosen? The version built in Sydenham was much larger than the Hyde Park original. There must also be very careful consideration given to the requirements of modern building regulations, as they make it unlikely that an exact replica could be made.

It would be a great pity if this superb building were to be recreated as a poor copy, with tinted glass to reduce solar gain, lift motors and air conditioning ducts on the roof and surrounded by nondescript car parks instead of the terraces and fountains of Sydenham.

Given that the site in Crystal Palace Park, Sydenham remains unused, and the only current plan has been repeatedly postponed and is of little merit, it would be best if the replica could occupy this site. This would not be a cheap option as the BBC transmitter occupies part of the site and would require relocation. It would also take courage, while we are still in the age of the car to build an attraction such as this without huge car parks. The site is, however, well served by public transport and an ability to think boldly and imaginatively will be essential if this project is to succeed.

I wish the contestants well with their proposals, but regret that nobody seems to have spoken for South London.

Yours faithfully,

Stephen King

London, SE25

19 October