On the 10th March, I visited the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs for the first time in over a decade. The first and only time I’d visited them before was in a school holiday back when I was knee-high to a grasshopper. I’d always had a fascination for dinosaurs (as most young boys do) and luckily that has continued all the way into adulthood. Some of the statues are in need of TLC but considering their age, they are still going strong. It was good to see that some recent restoration had taken place. The collection of 21 surviving sculptures were classed as Grade II listed buildings from 1973, then extensively restored in 2002 and upgraded to Grade I listed in 2007.
For those of you who aren’t aware of the ‘dinosaurs’, they were created back in 1854 and comprised of ~30 concrete sculptures of extinct animals from both the Mesozoic and Cenozoic including marine reptiles and some early mammals. This means of course that not all of them are dinosaurs, but the name still stuck none the less.
Although they seem dated now, they were cutting edge science back in the middle-1800s being the first recreations ever created of dinosaurs. They may seen dated by our modern viewpoint but over 150 years worth of scientific discoveries lay between us and them. After all they were created by the great Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins under the scientific direction of Sir Richard Owen, the same bloke that coined the term dinosaur and founded the Natural History Museum in London.
Despite the dull weather (than can be seen in the photos above), I had a great time visiting memory lane and learning more about the concrete dinosaurs I so fondly remembered. They have been featured in a number of TV shows in recent years looking at dinosaurs and extinct life, which have constantly reminded me that I needed to go and visit these Victorian beasts. I’m glad I did and I’m sure my curiosity will lead me to do more research on the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs in the near future.