The Alexandra Trust Board has submitted a bid to Heritage Lottery fund this month for ambitious plans to to develop and restore Alexandra Palace.
The 16.8 million bid focuses on the Victorian Theatre, BBC Studios and restoration of the East Court, as part of wider plans over the coming years o restore the park and buildings.
The Trust say that investment is badly needed because of the palace’s derelict state – currently about 40% of the total area is estimated to be derelict or unusable. A masterplan has been developed by Farrells with the aim of preserving the site and maximising its cultural, community and educational potential.
The palace is considered to be the birthplace of television. On 2 November 1935, the BBC began broadcasting the worlds first regular high definition television service from the converted east wing. The location was chosen because of Ally Pally’s elevated position though by all accounts the building was in a poor state then, with the sky viewable in places through the damaged ceiling. Though television was suspended in the war, the studios had a secret role in jamming radio signals to Germany’s Luftwaffe. The studios continued in use until the 1980s, first as the home of BBC news, and then latterly as the home of Open University broadcasts until the OU’s relocation to Miilton Keynes.
The Victorian theatre was built in 1875 and over the last 137 years has been variously used not only for its original purpose but as a Belgian refugee camp, a German internment facility, cinema and BBC prop store . The theatre includes a projection box at the back is thought to be one of the oldest in London. Those who have visited on open house day will attest to the wonderfulness of the building, and its slight spookiness.
There should be news on whether the bid has been successful in April next year.