Opened by Queen Victoria for the Great Exhibition of 1851, the Crystal Palace, a vast steel-and-glass structure designed by Joseph Paxton, was originally sited in Hyde Park. When the Exhibition ended, the Palace was bought up by a private company, dismantled and moved to Sydenham, south-east London, where it was re-built as the centerpiece of an expansive new garden, complete with (inaccurate) models of dinosaurs. Despite these attractions the ‘Acropolis of Empire’ was not a financial success, despite a dedicated railway line from central London ferrying visitors to it, and was eventually purchased by the government in 1909.
On November 30th 1936, a fire began in the cloakroom. The flames spread quickly, aided by strong winds and the timber flooring used throughout, and the entire building was soon destroyed.