Paxton’s Palace by Anthony Bird

Paxton’s Palace by Anthony Bird lands on the shelves of my shop, where it will be found in my Architecture section.

London: Cassell, 1976, (First Edition) Hardback in dust wrapper.

Contains: Black & white photographs; Black & white drawings;

From the cover: The Crystal Palace, built to house the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park in 1851, was perhaps the best known of all Victorian buildings; justifiably so, for its construction was a minor miracle. Joseph Paxtons famous design was chosen at the eleventh hour when the Commissioners were saddling themselves with an impossible project, a huge, ugly brick barn that was the best of 245 ideas submitted by architects from all over the world.

In just seven days Paxton drew up plans for what was to be the first prefabricated modular building, all parts fitting to a module of 24 feet with all girders, columns, gutters and sash bars interchangeable. Design expertise opened the way for a phenomenal speed of construction: the contractors began levelling the 26-acre Hyde Park site on 30 July 1850; the first column was raised on 26 September; in only twenty-two weeks the building was up and in another mere sixteen it was fitted out and painted, ready for its opening by Queen Victoria on 1 May 1851. In that incredibly short time thousands of tons of iron had been milled and transported and nearly a million square feet of glass had been fixed; Paxton even designed special trolleys to run on the frames so that the glaziers were able to place 18,000 panes in a single week. Anthony Birds last book, completed shortly before his death in October 1974, is a remarkable account of a real story behind one of the worlds great spectacles. It has the drama of political and engineering intrigue and infighting, of personality clashes between men who were giant in their stature, and in the end it is a story of the triumph of Victorian engineering, expertise and enterprise, culminating in one of the most practical, graceful, magical buildings ever to appear in London.

Very Good in Very Good Dust Wrapper. Price Clipped.

Green boards with Black titling to the Spine. 179 pages. Index. Bibliography. 8¾” x 5½”.


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