Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:


© Crown Copyright and database right 2021. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2021. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1031539.pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 13-Jun-2021 at 13:55:14.


Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Greater London Authority
Bromley (London Borough)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
TQ 34475 70894



785/4/10031 Crystal Palace national Recreation Centre


Sports Centre. Designed 1953-4, built 1960-4 by the LCC Architect's Department under Leslie Martin and (from 1957) Hubert Bennett; Norman Engleback (until 1960) and E R Hayes Group Leaders; B G Jones and M J Attenborough assistant designers; Sir Gerald Barry, consultant. Reinforced concrete frame, exposed externally and largely infilled with glass at upper levels, some brick below. Complex but logical plan with central 'A'-frame supporting spectator seating and reinforced concrete roof, to either side respectively baths and principal arena on two upper levels. Lower floor has squash, smaller halls, boxing booths (formerly indoor cricket facilities), changing areas and boilers. Main halls fully glazed at upper level, the ends a predominantly vertical composition of regular mullions with two thin transoms. The slightly longer side elevations more expressive, a tripartite thirteen-bay composition with thick horizontal transoms. Oversailing roof whose underside is lined in teak inside and out; the side elevations with double 'M' lozenge pattern. Entrance for participants at lowest level, with double doors (renewed); spectators enter at upper level from long raised terrace that is the principal axis of the park. Virtually detached small pool is not of special interest.

The interiors seen by spectators are of particular interest. Pool hall with central 165', eight-line racing pool; diving pool with dramatic reinforced concrete diving board (now rare) at north end; learner pool to south; the whole is the length of the building and is tiled at lower level. To one side a bank of seating (actual seats renewed) gives on to central concourse on two levels linked by stairs and corresponding bank serving smaller arena on other side. The views across this concourse and seating, and down into squash areas, are particularly impressive. Their fluidity is enhanced by the bold expression of the 'A'-frame and delicate arched bracing supporting the roof which is a most distinctive and distinguished feature.

In 1951 the LCC took over the derelict site of the old exhibitions centre from the Crystal Palace Trust. Sir Gerald Barry, director of the Festival of Britain, was commissioned to advise on the best use of the land. His proposed new exhibition centre was not adopted, but the LCC did take up his idea of using the drained lake area in the middle of the gardens as a centre for recreational sports and training, with some residential facilities.

Emphasis was given to swimming as Southern England did not have an Olympic-sized pool. It was the first indoor multi-functional hall designed in Britain (though not the first to be built) at a time when such facilities did not exist elsewhere in Europe. Crystal Palace is exceptional in the breadth of its vision, not only in the range of facilities carefully planned within it but also in being intended to serve serious performers from all nations (there is separate residential accommodation in the park) as well as local enthusiasts. (Architect and Building News: 18 November 1954: 614; Architects' Journal: 2 December 1954: 672-6; Architects' Journal: 12 August 1964: 387-99; Architects' Journal: 26 April 1967: 1021-27).

Listing NGR: TQ3447570894


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
'Architects Journal' in 12 August, (1964), 387-99
'Architects Journal' in 26 April, (1967), 1021-27
'Architect and Building News' in 18 November, (1954), 614
'Architects Journal' in 2 December, (1954), 672-6


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 28 Oct 1999
Reference: IOE01/00661/04
Rights: Copyright IoE Dr Michael Philpot. Source Historic England Archive
Archive image, may not represent current condition of site.
To view this image please use Firefox, Chrome, Safari, or Edge.

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].