Association of Open University Graduates

Historical view of Crystal Palace

2007 Annual General Meeting/Spring Weekend

"A capital time was had in our capital city of London."

The 2007 Spring weekend held in the Queens Hotel London, Crystal Palace offered a warm and friendly atmosphere, where old and new friends could meet, and enjoy each others company. An unexpected surprise awaited guests as they went to their evening meal to behold wonderful panoramic views of the city of London, and the county of Kent. Many moments were spent trying to identify landmarks of the city of London including the Millennium Wheel.

The itinerary of the weekend included a visit to the museum of Crystal Palace, an evening quiz, the Annual General Meeting on Saturday morning, a gala evening with a speaker and a jazz band for entertainment, followed on Sunday with members going on a boat trip down the Thames.

In the mid 1800's Great Britain was debatably the leader of the industrial revolution. In 1851 the Great Exhibition was held at Crystal Palace to symbolise the industrial, military and economic supremacy of the country. The phrase Crystal Palace was given by Punch magazine to describe The Great Exhibition. This event was held as a showcase to the world, an idea of Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert. The Crystal Palace was originally designed by Sir Joseph Paxton in only 10 days and was a huge iron goliath with over a million feet of glass.

Crystal Palace was moved from Hyde Park to the new site of Sydnam Hill in 1854. Here it stood until it was destroyed by fire on November 30th 1936. Members, who visited the last remaining building of the Crystal Palace, were shown around the museum by a very knowledgeable guide. Unfortunately they could not see as much as they would have liked because, I believe, damage to the museum roof, caused by the theft of lead, had made it unsafe. It was however made alive by interesting and informative tales. Members stated they were amazed by the size of the site, which is around the size of 40 football pitches, and the bases of the pillars were still standing with some steps. Everything else had been destroyed by the fire, which is believed to have been started by a leak in the underground heating system. The night watchman is reported to have taken ages to discover the source of the fire and there had been a delay in calling out the fire brigade. The firemen whom at the time were nearly all part-time workers took ages to arrive at the scene. The London Borough of Bromley together with The Crystal Palace Foundation have recently submitted a bid of lottery funding to attempt to restore its many features.

In the evening the members took part in a challenging quiz with money prizes. It pays to swot up before a Spring weekend. Saturday was very much a working day for many members in attendance. Others chose to explore the local sights.

In the evening the main social event of our calendar took place, The Gala Dinner. The evening was completed by the playing of a jazz band. Good wine, good company and good friends made this an evening to remember.

The weekend ended on a high with glorious weather for our trip on the Thames. A truly relaxing, informative, and enjoyable way to end our weekend in the capital.