Outside the confines of South London, many people have quite likely never heard of Upper Norwood, and if they have, would struggle to place it exactly. But if I referred to my local neighbourhood by its other name, eyes will light up. Crystal Palace, as it is better known, is familiar worldwide for the 19th century structure that was its very raison d’ȇtre. Oh ok, I grant you, possibly equal numbers are aware of it only in connection with the football club down the hill in Selhurst. But it was the technological triumph of the great glasshouse perched on the ridge of the Great North Wood that made this little corner of London a global superstar, and a suburb forever associated with architectural greatness. Those great aisles of slender iron columns may, long ago have melted in the fire of 1936, but the area is rich in other architectural gems, some well known and well used, and others almost invisible and forgotten. Three buildings I’ve photographed locally from the 19th and 20th centuries, whose masonry and concrete columns are unlikely to meet the same fate as the palace, are nevertheless insecure in other ways; a vast Victorian church subsiding gently into the South London clay, a soaring 60s sports centre at the heart of a complex whose future is not guaranteed, and an exquisite subway connecting a long demolished station to the former palace itself, lying locked, unused and crumbling.
St. John The Evangelist, Auckland Road
The National Sports Centre, Crystal Palace Park
The Subway, Crystal Palace Parade
All three buildings were originally shot for local blog, The Triangle SE19