Historic Life-Size Crystal Palace Dinosaur Damaged After 150 Years in Park
A grade I listed dinosaur statue in London has been damaged, leaving people connected to the site distraught.
The Friends of Crystal Palace Park Dinosaurs group said they had been alerted to the ‘serious damage’ in the South London site a week ago.
The Megalosaur statue, which is placed on a small island the public are not allowed to access, lost part of its nose and mouth in what the organisation described as a possible ‘heritage crime’. A statue of an Elk was also damaged on Friday, but that may have been caused by high winds.
More than 30 statues in the park, many of which are dinosaurs, were built between 1852 and 1855 by natural history artist Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins and have since become a tourist attraction.
But in a statement this weekend, the group said: ‘On Monday 18 May we were alerted by a member of the public to serious damage to the Megalosaur statue. We are working with Historic England, the London Borough of Bromley (owners), and the Metropolitan Police to investigate the cause of this damage.
‘On Friday 23 May we also discovered that the antlers of the Irish Elk have been damaged, potentially by recent strong winds.
‘We would like to reiterate that public access to the islands is prohibited. The Dinosaurs are Grade I listed and any intentional damage falls under the category of heritage crime, punishable by fines or incarceration.’
The charity’s trustee, Sarah Slaughter, added that she felt like crying when she saw what had happened.
She told the BBC: ‘The magnitude of the damage shocked me.
‘I have known of the dinos since I was a little girl living in Croydon. My dad’s family were from Penge and he remembers seeing the dinos as a small boy.
‘I have worked really hard alongside the other board members to protect the sculptures and make sure that people love them, too.
‘It is upsetting to be reminded that not everybody cares about them.’
Some of the statues are ‘wildly inaccurate’ representations of what the dinosaurs actually looked like, but highlight understanding at the time and have come to be loved in their current forms.
I hope my friend doesnât mind me stealing this from her Instagram but Iâm worried about the dinosaurs in Crystal Palace. pic.twitter.com/v3C0Nl7Fzp— Graeme Swanson (@swansonian) May 20, 2020
The Friends’ statement continued: ‘The Dinosaurs and landscapes are on the national Heritage At Risk register.
‘The sad damage over the past week highlights the importance for the statues to be conserved, as without active input they risk being lost forever. This would be a huge loss to Park users, and the global community of Crystal Palace Dinosaur lovers.
‘We are extremely grateful to the individual who promptly alerted us of the incident and would request that park users get in touch with us if they suspect any further damage has occurred to any of the sculptures.’
Megalosaurus are believed to have lived in England between 166.1 and 168.3 million years ago and were around 6 metres long.