End of a Giant: Death of the North Tower

On the 30th November 1936 a catastrophic fire took hold at the World famous Crystal Palace. Within hours, the Palace was destroyed. All that was left standing after were the two water towers.

Their final fate came at the beginning of World War 2 amidst fears that they would serve as landmarks for German bombers on their way to bomb Central London.  The South Tower was taken down first; dismantled due to its close proximity to houses and shops, but the North Tower was demolished with explosions on the 16th April 1941.  This newspaper article from the Bromley & Kentish Times shows the three stages of the demolition.

End of a giant

A close-up of the last three stages in the “death” of the North tower of the Crystal Palace, which was felled last week.  It was seen by many hundred so people from the top of Martins Hill, Bromley.

The first picture shows the gelignite charge at the base of the tower being exploded.  The the tower begins to tilt.  It appeared to sink steadily into the ground, section by section, until, as the third picture shows, little ore than the cap could be seen with a plume of smoke issuing from the chimney.

A few seconds later all that remained of what was once a famous landmark, was a mass of twisted metal. (series of photos by Harold White F.I.P.B.)


The Crystal Palace grounds were also used as a manufacturing base for aircraft radar screens and other hi-tech equipment of the time. This remained a secret until well after the war.

This video shows the demolition in progress (source: British Pathe)


[su_youtube url=”https://youtu.be/tzSM38hCIPc”]

Bromley & Kentish Times, 25th April, 1941 page 5
British Pathe via YouTube
Engineering Timeslines

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