Opened by the London, Chatham & Dover Railway in 1865, the branch line to Crystal Palace High Level station was built to serve the Crystal Palace itself and as direct competition to the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway’s own line to their own station (the current Low Level site).
Both lines were heavily patronised in the Palace’s heyday, but the destruction of Paxton’s glass wonder saw a serious decline in traffic. The LC&DR’s line, ending as it did at the High Level station, suffered particularly badly. The line and its stations struggled on for a while, but the cost of permanently repairing war time bomb damage proved prohibitive and the branch line finally closed in 1954.
Crystal Palace High Level itself was demolished in the early sixties, and to the casual eye nothing remains to suggest the grand station that once sat below the Crystal Palace Parade. Traces of the line and the stations it served can still be found, however, if you know where to look. The line boasted two substantial tunnels – Paxton Tunnel (439 yards) and Crescent Wood Tunnel (400 yards) and both these tunnels are still extant. As is the local myth that one of them contains an entombed train…
The Not Stopping Here series highlights disused or unusual transport-related engineering and architecture in London that is still visible to the public, if you know where to look. Suggestions for items to feature are welcome and can be sent to [email protected].