THE BOOKING HALL in Crystal Palace station has re-opened after being shut for more than 25 years.
Howard Smith, Transport for London’s chief operating officer for rail, told assembled guests and media at Monday’s opening ceremony: “We should take pleasure in what we have achieved here today. “For so many years on the railway we were very largely casting aside a Victorian heritage, trading down, making things a bit more brutal and simplistic.
“In the last few years we have reversed this trend. “This is an example of that. “We’ve taken on something that was decaying and brought it back into use.”
Before cutting the bright orange ribbon to mark the re-opening Mr Smith recalled how as a boy he had used the station on the way to watch athletics in the nearby National Sports Centre – and worked overtime at Crystal Palace station when he was station manager at Balham.
Work began on the grade 2 listed hall in March as part of a £7.5 million upgrade of the station. The revamped booking hall – along with the new ticket office, ticket machine and train display signs, includes a Brown and Green cafe and toilets on the same level for passengers.
The wooden ticket office, which was situated against the back of the front wall between the two main doors, has been taken down and transported to the East Anglian railway museum. Almost all the bricks have been cleaned using a high pressure steam method with the exception of one line of grime left where the roof of the ticket office was – the line of grime being left at the request of English Heritage.
Some damaged bricks on the inside walls have been replaced – with bricks supplied by a salvage specialist which came from the same foundry as the bricks used in the building of the station.
The final stage of the project, to be completed early next year, includes three lifts to the platforms from the ticket hall, installation of the walkways to improve access to and from the station, and the removal of the existing glass structure ticket hall to the right of the station, opened in July 1986.
The glass structure ticket hall will also be going to the East Anglian railway museum.
After closing in the mid 1980s the booking hall was the home of auctioneers Rosebery’s prior to their move into the former Essoldo cinema at West Norwood. TfL says the current station building dates back to 1877 and replaced a more modest structure built on the same site in the 1850s. (A full description of this can be found on page 18 of ‘To the Crystal Palace’ by C T Goode, Forge Books 1984).