18 May 2021
The famous Megalosaurus dinosaur at Crystal Palace Park is ready to delight visitors once more – following an emergency ‘face-lift’ completed just in time for lock-down restrictions easing.
The beloved Megalosaurus is a popular favourite in the collection of 30 iconic sculptures which have thrilled visitors since they were revealed as the world’s first life-sized reconstructions of the extinct animals in 1854.
The giant Grade I listed statue - which stands 3.5 metres high and 10 metres long – was at serious risk of deteriorating beyond repair when its jaw collapsed last May, during the country’s first lock-down.
Now intricate work to install 22 new teeth, a new nose and light-weight ‘prosthetic’ jaw - colour matched to the 167-year-old body - has been completed just in time for restrictions lifting.
The complex work to revive the Megalosaurus was carried out by a team of highly skilled specialists from conservation company Taylor Pearce, over the last six months.
The conservation project involved taking the original, damaged heavy fragments from the creature’s face to the studio, scanning them using white light techniques, matching them with archival 3-D scans and then creating a lightweight replica ‘prosthesis’ using 3-D printing processes.
The emergency rescue mission was made possible thanks to a grant from the Culture Recovery Fund, dedicated fundraising by the Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs and the commitment of Bromley Council, together with support and expert advice from Historic England.
FCPD are particularly grateful to all those who kindly donated and fundraised in response to Meg’s plight with events and auctions. Matt Frank and Steve White auctioned artworks, Johnnie Smith organised a VW cruise to Brighton, Dan White raised over £1000 after live-streaming a Jurassic World game, Palaeo Plushies sold special edition Megs, and Boho & Bowie set up a new line of t-shirts. We are so grateful to them, and everyone who donated funds and volunteered their time to help us.
All 30 sculptures were added to Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register early in 2020, due to large cracks appearing in some of their bodies and limbs, putting them in danger of losing toes, teeth and tails.
Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England, said: “The towering Megalosaurus is loved by children and adults alike, with a fan club across the capital, the country and indeed the world! It is heartening to think that this restoration work will give so much pleasure to so many people, as we begin to explore historic places again. All 30 sculptures are on our Heritage at Risk Register, which means we can continue to focus attention on them and work in partnership with Bromley Council and the Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs to secure their long-term future.”
Councillor Morgan, Executive Councillor for Renewal, Recreation and Housing at Bromley Council, said: “We are delighted that these works have now been completed and the beloved Megalosaurus has been protected from dilapidating past the point of repair. I hope she will not be too fierce and terrify visitors!
“Although there is much more work to be done to support the preservation of the Dinosaurs, the completion of these works helps to ensure the stability of the already fragile sculpture, in preparation for further conservation works in the coming years. The Council will continue to work alongside Historic England and the Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs to support this cherished community asset.”
Dr Ellinor Michel, from Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs, said: “The Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs are thrilled to see the works completed. Hundreds of individuals responded to Meg’s plight which enabled us to help initiate this work alongside Bromley Council and Historic England. We feel this demonstrates the power of community action and we are happy that Meg can face the future whilst we continue to protect and promote the world’s first dinosaur statues.”
Please do keep following Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs on our socials for updates on our work. Support from the public will boost our efforts when seeking funds for the conservation work that the Dinosaurs desperately need.
Thank you, as always, for your support,
Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs
(Ellinor, Sarah, Adrian, Erica, Jeremy, Charlotte, Alison, Anthony, Jen, Fran)