21 FEBRUARY 1987, Page 19

One hundred years ago

THERE must be a good many people in middle life to whom the news that the Crystal Palace is in danger must come as something of a shock. It is associated with their youth, — with a time when London was naked in the matter of outdoor amusements, and, in the day- time at all events, not very much better off as regards indoor amusements; and when the Crystal Palace served as a framework into which an afternoon's pleasure was most naturally fitted. We say nothing about the high hopes, edu- cational and aesthetic, which gathered round the fabric in those early and brilliant days. They never had much foundation, and they soon fled away into that limbo which seems to await all such expectations in this country. Con- sidering the present prospects of the Albert Hall, the Crystal Palace cannot well be taunted with having failed to fulfil its original purpose. Unfortunate- ly, the fulfilment of even its later and more modest purpose is now threatened. 'All our endeavours,' said the Chairman, at the half-yearly meet- ing on Thursday week, 'have not suc- ceeded in drawing the public in suffi- cient numbers' . . . . The beginning of the decline synchronises with the open- ing of the Exhibitions at South Kensing- ton, and the Chairman is no doubt right in tracing it mainly to this cause . . . .

Few people care to go ten miles for their dinner — still less to travel ten miles after their dinner — when they have food and music and lighted gardens close to their own homes. The Spectator, 19 February 1887