Beta We're making some changes to architecture.com. Find out what's new, give feedback or read FAQs here
Photograph of abandoned rail tunnel, Crystal Palace, 1970

Photograph of abandoned rail tunnel Crystal Palace 1970

Once it was the route to the Crystal Palace for tourists from around the world, now it is home to more nocturnal visitors.

Britain has many abandoned railway lines, although it is surprising to find one in suburban London. This is Crescent Wood Tunnel, near Upper Sydenham station on the Crystal Palace High Level branch, closed in 1954. The line was built to take passengers to the great leisure attraction when it was moved from Hyde Park following the Great Exhibition of 1851. It enjoyed a frequent service of electric trains from central London in the 1930s, but the destruction by fire of the Crystal Palace in 1936 removed its main traffic objective. Today, this tunnel is used only by roosting bats.

Image: Photograph of abandoned rail track and tunnel, Crystal Palace High Level branch, London, taken in 1970; image from RIBApix (number RIBA47803)
Photographer: Michael Franklyn Reid
Credit: Architectural Press Archive / RIBA Collections

Article by Jeremy Crumplin, RIBA
27 April 2015

Discover more

This is just one of over four million items in our world-class architectural collections at the RIBA LibraryA Library – it's open to everyone and access is free. Visit the library to explore our collections of books, periodicals, drawings, photographs and models:

  1. Book
    Pedroche, B., 2011.
    'Do not alight here: Walking London’s lost Underground and railway stations'
    Harrow Weald: Capital History. pp. 84-93
    Shelved at 725.314(42.1) // PED [Reference]
  2. Book
    Course, E., 1962.
    'London railways'.
    London: B. T. Batsford. pp. 233-234
    Shelved at 725.31:625(42.1) // COU [Reference]
  3. Book
    Piggott, J. R., 2004.
    'Palace of the people: The Crystal Palace at Sydenham 1854-1936'.
    London: Hurst & Co. p.147
    Shelved at 725.91(42.23S) // PIG [Reference]
  4. Photographs
    Images of railways and railway architecture from the Architectural Press Archive

Latest updates

keyboard_arrow_up To top