HL Deb 12 April 1853 vol 125 cc1000-2

wished to put a question to the noble Lord, President of the Council, upon a subject in which the public felt considerable interest with respect to the intentions of Her Majesty's Government. He believed they all entertained hopes, in consequence of the Crystal Palace having been removed from Hyde Park to a much more eligible site, that Hyde Park before now would have been restored to its ancient state, and that the public would have all the pleasure they were entitled to derive from the privilege they had long enjoyed, of walking and riding there. He believed it was part of the contract under which Her Majesty's Government agreed that the Crystal Palace should be erected, that by November, 1851, the site would be completely restored; but although they had now arrived at the month of April, 1853, and although the structure had been removed, the site remained in a state that was utterly deplorable. He could hardly describe to their Lordships the aspect of deformity which that part of the park presented. There was no railing or fence around it; animals of all sorts were to be found straying upon it; spring had returned, but no verdure had returned there; and it was in such a condition that the persons to be seen riding upon it must be fond of steeple-chasing, for they met there with obstacles that required very skilful horsemanship. There were stones, and drains, and ruins still to be seen upon it that must rather excite alarm in those who were not very skilful in the management of their horses. He wished to know what was the real intention of the Government on the subject. One of the lungs of London was now overrun with tubercles, and it was really most essential that some prescription should be given for the purpose of curing the malady. If there was any intention of erecting a local monument on the ground for the purpose of perpetuating the memory of the Great Exhibition of 1851, and celebrating the glory of the illustrious Prince from whom it had emanated, he would be contented; and if there was any public subscription for that purpose, he would, according to his small means, most willingly contribute to it; but if no such intention existed, then he thought the public had been grossly ill-treated by the delay in restoring the site of the Crystal Palace to its former appearance. He knew that his noble Friend the Lord President had acted on the most excellent principle throughout, in regard to the Exhibition—that his object was to do what might be of service to the nation, and he had worthily represented the English people without any violation of the law, when he appeared as their representative at the great public banquet in France. His noble Friend had done that for which he deserved the thanks of the country; he trusted that he and the Government were not to blame for allowing this deformity to continue so long, and that they would receive from him an assurance that Hyde Park was soon to be restored to its ancient state.


in his somewhat amphibious character of a Royal Commissioner and a Minister of State, was very happy to have to state that in the correspondence which had passed between himself and the Lord Chief Justice on this subject, the most friendly spirit had been manifested on both sides in reference to the building known as the Crystal Palace, and the site upon which it had been raised, and he believed that the answer which he was about to give would entirely clear away any little difference that remained between the Commissioners and his noble and learned Friend with respect to the complete success of the Great Exhibition. He might say, then, that Her Majesty's Commissioners had been as anxious as his noble and learned Friend could be to restore the site as speedily as possible to its normal condition—an anxiety fully manifested by the correspondence which had taken place on the subject. The contractors, however, whether it was because they were somewhat exhausted by the really marvellous display of energy which they had been called upon to make in the erection of that building, or that they were too much engaged on other undertakings, had entirely failed to perform this portion of their engagements. The Executive Committee, therefore, had, in the discharge of their duty, felt called upon to do that which the deed enabled them to do—namely, to appeal to the First Commissioner of Works to put the ground in its former condition, the contractors being held liable for any expenditure which might thereby accrue. He was happy then to be able to inform the noble Lord that the First Commissioner had already issued the necessary instructions, and he therefore hoped that the site would be restored to its quondam condition, though he was afraid thereby that his noble and learned Friend would be deprived of the opportunity of executing those daring feats of horsemanship which he was so well able to accomplish.

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