PAXTON, Sir Joseph 1801-1865. Architect. Paxton was a farmer’s son, and his first job was as a gardener. Whilst working for the Horticultural Society at Chiswick, he came to the attention of the Duke of Devonshire, who appointed him Superintendent of his gardens at Chatsworth. Here he designed and built a great conservatory made of glass, an experience which no doubt inspired his ambitious 1850 design for the following year’s Great Exhibition. His design for the huge Crystal Palace was chosen, and the building erected in Hyde Park; the following year Paxton was knighted. Paxton supervised the removal of the Crystal Palace to Sydenham. He remained director of gardens both at Chatsworth and at Crystal Palace. Among his other projects he planned two early public parks: Princes Park in Liverpool in 1842 and Birkenhead Park in 1843. From 1854 he was the Liberal MP for Coventry. Sir Joseph Paxton lived from 1852 until his death in 1865 at his house Rockhills, opposite 108 Westwood Hill. The house was demolished in the 1960s, but a Crystal Palace Foundation plaque marks the site.

Rosemary Warhurst