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Thursday, April 15, 2004
A page devoted to the Great Exhibition of 1851 (or, to give it its full title, The Great Exhibition of the Industry of all Nations), via The Cartoonist. The exhibition venue, Joseph Paxton's monumental Crystal Palace, was moved from Hyde Park to Sydenham in 1854. The reconstructed Palace occupied the grounds of the former Penge Place, owned by the director of the London-Brighton Railway, Leo Schuster - who was co-incidentally a good friend of Paxton's. See the Crystal Palace Foundation for more.

The palace wasn't just re-built, but also hugely expanded - almost twice as long as the original. Fresh attractions were added, such as the famous concrete dinosaurs of Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins (see Dan Smith's Hopeful Monsters in things 13 for more information - sadly this piece isn't online). On 30 November 1936, the Palace burnt down, a vast conflagration visible from across South London. The excellent Ideal-Homes.org.uk has many more pictures of the Palace in its heyday. Very little remains, save for the original terracing. Plans by Ian Ritchie to build a new palace were heavily criticised. A more adventurous scheme by Wilkinson Eyre is currently being touted by the Crystal Palace Campaign.

A few other things. The flag of Mozambique is unique, in that it bears a picture of a Kalashnikov. Which isn't terribly welcoming. (found at Flags of the World, one of over 41,000 flags...) / tiny trees for model railways / urban adventures in Rotterdam, with extreme buildering (sic) and sky objects / cruise missiles to suit all budgets / bizarre limited edition cars.

A bit about the last few daily pictures. The Hindu festival of Thaipusam usually falls at the end of January or the start of February, and this year we just happened to be in Kuala Lumpur at the right time. Our contact kindly drove us out to the Batu Caves in the late evening (shortly before midnight). The festival wasn't quite in full swing - apparently half a million people are there during the day - but it was still heaving, with worshippers mingling with tourists, police and traders. Devotees were stumbling in, bearing the kavadi, many of whom had walked for miles from the various temples around KL. Their final test was to climb the 272 steep steps into the vast cave complex, at the end of which lies the temple where they place their offering. Although we'd missed all the chicken sacrificing, it was hugely atmospheric. The caves were full of dead flowers, empty vessels, bonfires, garlands, milk vessels, feathers, and empty water bottles, and we were bombarded by the sound of strange music and cheering as chains were pulled tight on multiple flesh hooks, all the while surrounded by thousands and thousands of people.