Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Burning of the Crystal Palace

On the evening of November 30th, 1936, Mr. Edgar McWilliam was living at 35 Sydenham Park Road not far from the great Crystal Palace, and was on his way to a dinner party a short walk from his home. He and his wife saw a strange glow in the sky -- it was a little after 8 p.m. -- and "wondered what it was." It was the Palace itself, on fire. As they wound their way past fire-engines and hoses up a nearby road, the full extent of the conflagration became apparent, as they saw "the blinding blaze of the C.P. alight from end to end." Edgar wrote an detailed eyewitness account to his son, and quoted the entire text in this letter, which he wrote to his mother the next day. You can read the full letter here.  (I am grateful to Mary Melling of Rancho Palos Verdes, California, for making her great-uncle's letter available.)

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