The Crystal Palace Subway has received a grant of £2.34m towards its restoration. It is hoped that the Strategic Investment funding will trigger further restoration funding securing the Subway’s future and enabling Historic England’s ‘at risk’ status to be removed.
Councillor Peter Morgan, Executive Councillor for Renewal, Recreation and Housing said, “This is excellent news - the progress made to ensure the future of the Subway is also testament to what can be achieved when organisations big and small work together. Since 2014 the Friends group, Bromley Council and Historic England have worked in partnership to enable each other to get the best outcome for this building, for the benefit of local people and the nation as a whole. Finally securing this grant will be a great exemplar of what can be achieved when people come together.”
The Friends of Crystal Palace Subway (FCPS) have been working with both Bromley and Southwark Councils for 7 years and have successfully reinstated safe pedestrian access to the subway facilitating 22,000 visitors over the last three years across 15 volunteer run open days.
Through a National Lottery Heritage Fund project FCPS worked with local communities to research and share the rich history of the subway. Oral history interviews revealed community involvement stretching back over 50 years and research uncovered a number of unexpected uses. During that project FCPS developed engaging activities for young people and supported groups with additional needs to visit the subway, we have continued to support access for the broadest possible audience despite the challenges of working with Heritage at Risk.
FCPS have succeeded in raising the profile of the subway and keep it as a priority for both local authorities. Inevitably this hasn't always been a smooth ride as it is an important function of any friends group to hold a manager or owner to account in relation to the function and condition of a site. However, FCPS have developed strong relationships with a number of stakeholders and have managed to work constructively with Bromley Council and Historic England.
Our track record of running events demonstrated the level of interest in Crystal Palace Subway, evidence which was crucial to the success of the SIP bid. Previous survey work made use of our volunteers' historical research which increased understanding of the site. FCPS will continue to work with local supporters to ensure the best outcome for Crystal Palace Subway despite the challenging social and economic times, alongside Historic England we will work with Bromley Council to ensure that the right team and the right bid are brought on board.
The Friends of Crystal Palace Subway are involved in every part of the tender and restoration process and we will continue to hold the council to account if necessary.
Part of the process for us is to look to experts to advise us and we would welcome any RIBA member to join our committee in an advisory capacity.