First opened as “The People’s Palace” in 1873, Alexandra Palace (or “Ally Pally” as it was affectionately nicknamed, reputedly by Gracie Fields) provided the Victorians with a great environment and recreation centre. The Palace was destroyed by fire just sixteen days after opening.
On 1st May 1875 the newly rebuilt Palace opened. Covering 7 acres, it was centred on the Great Hall, home to the mighty Willis Organ, which was driven by two steam engines and vast bellows.
After certain financial difficulties, an Act of Parliament in 1900 created the Alexandra Palace and Park Trust. The Act required the Trustees to maintain the Palace and Park and make them “available for the free use and recreation of the public forever”, earning it the nickname “the People’s Palace”.
In 1935, the BBC leased the eastern part of the building from which the first public television transmissions were made in 1936. Alexandra Palace was the main transmitting centre for the BBC until 1956, when it was used exclusively for news broadcasts.
On 10th July 1980 the Palace caught fire for the second time. An area comprising the Great Hall, Banqueting Suite, and former roller rink together with the theatre dressing rooms was completely destroyed. Only Palm Court and the area occupied by the BBC escaped damage.
Development and restoration work began soon after and the Palace was re-opened on 17th March 1988. It continues as a Charitable Trust administered by the London Borough of Haringey.
Alexandra Palace has built a reputation as one of London’s premier venues. With its panoramic views of London, stunning architectural features and well proportioned halls, the Palace is now a popular choice for various events.
The additional leisure facilities which include the Ice Rink, Bar & Kitchen, Boating Lake, Animal Enclosure and Conservation Area provide year round entertainment.