After 166 years, the Crystal Palace Park dinosaurs are showing their age…
I’m getting a serious case of déjà vu with this – although thankfully, there’s no world-altering meteorite involved this time. The Crystal Palace Park dinosaurs, which have stood menacing the good folks of Crystal Palace for 166 years, are under threat from widespread cracks and weathering that runs the risk of them losing teeth, toes, and tails. It’s sobering news, but there’s some hope on the horizon that bodes well for the future of the creatures!
Historic England, who protect some 400,000 buildings and landmarks across the country, has added the 30-odd Crystal Palace Park dinosaurs to their Heritage at Risk Register. By raising awareness of the dinosaurs’ plight, the hope is that Historic England and Bromley Council can raise funds and come up with solutions for the dinosaurs – work which will be enveloped into the wider regeneration of Crystal Palace Park.
One of the more unusual additions to London’s parks, the Crystal Palace Park dinosaurs were created by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, who’s regarded as one of the foremost natural history artists of Victorian times. With the term ‘dinosaur’ only entering the lexicon a scant ten years before their construction in 1852-55, the sculptures would have been mesmerising for audiences of the time, who would never have seen their like before.
Hawkins worked from fossil discoveries and groundbreaking scientific research, in order to make the dinosaurs as accurate as possible. Unfortunately, recent research has proven some of the statues to be erroneous, but they nevertheless remain impressive, and well worth a visit. Arranged in a (now somewhat loose) chronological order, the statues include the likes of Megalosauras, Iguanadon, and Hylaeosaurus.
The cause of the dinosaurs’ degeneration is suspected to be ground movement on the artificial islands, added to changing water levels in the surrounding lakes. It’s a little less dramatic than a meteor, sure, but it’s not less dangerous – so the news that help is on the way is something to be welcomed!
In the meantime, you can visit the Crystal Palace Park dinosaurs at Thicket Road, SE20 8DT.
Featured image: @mummyandme3
Also published on Medium.