16.08.17

The community’s role in bringing the theatre back to life

By James Atkinson

Director of Fundraising

The Theatre was one of the undisputed highlights of the second Palace building when it opened in 1875 – a grand room, built with the very latest in Victorian technology, designed to bring ‘wonder and spectacle’ to the audience. It showcased opera, musical theatre, plays and even early cinema – from what we know of these early years, the programming was ambitious and of high quality.

Of course, it – like Alexandra Palace itself – has led a chequered life. The Theatre served as Gracie Fields’ London base during the 1920s… but it was also used as part of the internment camp during WWI, and later it became a store room for the BBC.

Fortunately, the Theatre itself was barely touched by the 1980 fire, but it then fell into disuse and became largely forgotten.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 16: Auditoriaum entrance and surround lies derelict in Alexandra Palace Theatre on May 16, 2014 in London, England. Alexandra Palace situated in the London Borough of Haringey First opened as "The People's Palace" in 1873. Just 16 days later a fire broke out in the Palace, burning it down in its entirety. On 2 November the world's first regular high-definition public television broadcast took place from the BBC studios at Alexandra Palace. In 1980 fire again burned a large part of the building, the Palace reopened in 1988. Recently awarded a Round 1 pass from The Heritage Lottery Fund the Palace plans to renovate parts of the derelict building including the BBC Studios and Victorian Theatre. (Photo by Miles Willis/Getty Images)

One of the privileges of my role is being able to go into the Theatre regularly and see it change as the restoration project develops. Normally this is with guests, many of whom have never been in the space before – and so I get to enjoy their sense of wonder as they see the Theatre for the first time.

Our community (both local residents and those from further afield with an affinity for Ally Pally) have such an important role to play in the restoration.

As well as stabilising, preserving and repairing the historic fabric, we need to install all the facilities that are essential to a theatre’s operation – seats, heating, lights, sound equipment, tech gallery… you name it. It is a big list.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 16: A view of the original stage curtain at Alexandra Palace Theatre on May 16, 2014 in London, England. Alexandra Palace situated in the London Borough of Haringey First opened as "The People's Palace" in 1873. Just 16 days later a fire broke out in the Palace, burning it down in its entirety. On 2 November the world's first regular high-definition public television broadcast took place from the BBC studios at Alexandra Palace. In 1980 fire again burned a large part of the building, the Palace reopened in 1988. Recently awarded a Round 1 pass from The Heritage Lottery Fund the Palace plans to renovate parts of the derelict building including the BBC Studios and Victorian Theatre. (Photo by Miles Willis/Getty Images)

 

The support from Heritage Lottery Fund and Haringey Council is hugely important, but the people are the most vital of all. Without people, this project would have no meaning.

With your support, this building that has meant so much to past generations can play a big part in the lives of future generations too.

To support the Theatre restoration, please search ‘Support Alexandra Palace’ or visit:

http://support.alexandrapalace.com/

From just £25, you can be part of Alexandra Palace’s future.

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