In one of her first acts as minister for architecture, Margaret Hodge yesterday upgraded the listing status of Crystal Palace Park's dinosaur sculptures from Grade II to Grade I.
Since the 1850s the prehistoric animal sculptures have stood in the park, now known as Dinosaur Court, after they were moved from the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, and are thought to be the first attempt to recreate what dinosaurs looked like.
The concrete and brick sculptures, as well as the surrounding geological strata and a lead mine, have recently undergone a £4 million restoration, and will now join Buckingham Palace and the Royal Festival Hall in the exclusive 2.5 per cent of structures to be granted Grade I status.
Margaret Hodge said: 'The prehistoric animal sculptures and associated geological formations provide an insight into the mid-19th-century reconstruction of dinosaur species that had only recently been discovered.
'They are believed to be unique and are clearly of exceptional historic interest in a national and probably international context. I am delighted to upgrade their list entry to reflect their importance,' she added.
The sculptures were designed by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins and were built out of brick and artificial stone on a framework of iron rods.
The geological strata and lead mine were constructed at the same time by James Campbell, an engineer and mineralogist.by Richard Vaughan