Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The dinosaurs of Crystal Palace

Travelling to a conference in Winchester and back today gave me the chance to read a good chunk of the Jonathan Meades collection Museum Without Walls.

I was struck by this passage:
In the southernmost corner of Crystal Palace Park are thirty life-size models of prehistoric monsters, installed in 1854: the first dinosaur theme park, a pedagogic entertainment. I have been a loyal visitor to them ever since I was in my teens. I have marvelled at them, filmed them, persuaded visitors to this city that the trip to its deepest recesses is worthwhile.
It had an impact on me because I have seen these creatures in one of my favourite films, Our Mother's House. As I wrote in a post on a "horror week" on the BBC, this sort of domestic horror is important for our understanding of the culture wars of the 1960s.

The rather muddy video above is a happy interlude from the film and features the dinosaurs of Crystal Palace. (Yes, that is Dirk Bogarde.)

Jonathan Meades (the piece was written in 2004) ends by saying "Bromley Council has subjected these hallucinatory prodigies to a most brutal restoration".

Does anyone know how they are getting on today?

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