© Dareen A. Bridge
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Sir Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace – destroyed by fire November 1936
ith reverberations from the Wall Street crash of 1929 felt throughout the western world, Europe increasingly turned to right-wing totalitarian government in an effort to minimise the effects of unemployment and
depression. At home the death of George V precipitated a constitutional crisis, which promised to split the United Kingdom, was only narrowly averted by the abdication of Edward VIII in favour of his shy and retiring brother Prince Albert who, adopting his last name, became King George the VI in December 1936. Fortunately for him his beautiful, charming and gregarious wife, Queen Elizabeth, later styled ‘Queen Elizabeth – The Queen Mother’ appealed to British subjects throughout the world, and George VI’s quiet fortitude throughout a difficult reign ensured a lasting place in the hearts and minds of a grateful nation.
The Crystal Palace had long been a popular venue for all kinds of exhibitions, including dog shows, but in November 1936 a catastrophic fire completely destroyed Sir Joseph Paxton’s masterpiece, originally built to house the Great Exhibition of 1851, leaving many canine societies, including the Kennel Club without a venue.