Many a star has graced the stage of the Crystal Palace Bowl.
We’re all eagerly awaiting the return of music festivals once the pandemic is under control, but I do think we should be looking to have even more concerts in stunning locations, just to make up for the lost summer of 2020. Happily, one such venue looks to be making a comeback, as a new crowdfunding campaign is hoping to restore the famed Crystal Palace Bowl to its past glories, and give South London a restored space for music. [Featured image: @crystalpalacebowl]
Why would Crystal Palace Park be a brilliant live music venue? Well, for starters, it’s got fricking dinosaurs in the park, which is obviously something your All Points East and Lovebox can’t do. But more importantly, the Crystal Palace Bowl – which stands on the edge of a lake overlooking the main lawn – has a rich heritage as a concert venue, beginning in the 60s with performances from the London Philharmonic Orchestra. After that, the likes of Bob Marley (playing his final London concert), The Beach Boys, Lou Reed, Pink Floyd, Elton John, The Pixies and more pitched up to play, putting it firmly on the map for music lovers.
The old stage closed in the mid-90s, eventually giving way to the striking, rusted metal creation that still stands today. Designed by Ian Ritchie Architects, it was nominated for the prestigious Stirling Prize after opening in 1997, and is quickly gained the moniker “the Rusty Laptop” for its unusual shape. Sadly, this venue hasn’t had a particularly long lifespan, as it hasn’t been used over the last decade, and has subsequently fallen into disrepair.
However, the new #BackTheBowl campaign, started by the Crystal Palace Park Trust, is hoping to bring the stage back to life. After registering the stage as an Asset of Community Value (and getting the place a blue plaque to honour Bob Marely’s final gig), the crowdfunding campaign is hoping to raise almost £55,000 to resurface the deteriorated stage with durable, long-lasting timber decking and undertaken maintenance works for behind-the-scenes facilities.
Achieving this would “[make] sure that the surrounding communities can once again celebrate and enjoy a landmark on their doorsteps that’s unlike any other in London”, per the campaign. There’s strong local support for the campaign, and if the fundraising goes well – the current total is just shy of £22,000 – the renovation works would take place over the summer, in time to celebrate the venue’s 60th birthday this year. The Trust has also made tentative plans to include the stage in the annual Open House London festival, taking place in September.
If you’d like to contribute to the project, you can do so here. Bringing back the Crystal Palace Bowl will not only restore an iconic space to its past glory, it’ll also put more live music and community events on the event calendar: something we all desperately need right now. Plus, it’s a good practice run for when we finally pluck up the courage to rebuild the actual Crystal Palace itself…
Also published on Medium.