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Alexandra Palace
Muswell Hill, London, UK
associated engineer
Not known
date  May 1873, May 1875
era  Victorian  |  category  Building  |  reference  TQ294900
Alexandra Palace — the north London equivalent of south London’s erstwhile Crystal Palace — was billed as “the People’s Palace”. It was open for just a couple of weeks before being destroyed by fire on 9th June 1873. Alexandra Palace was rebuilt to an improved design and reopened on 1st May 1875.
The original palace building had been constructed from materials used for the International Exhibition held in London in 1862. The improvements incorporated into its replacement include a structure based on compartments enclosed by fireproof walls. The rebuild cost some £300,00 and the palace footprint is almost 3 hectares in area.
It was set originally in some 120 hectares of parkland, including a racecourse, with areas for cricket, archery, croquet, running and pleasant walks, a swimming pool and a boating lake. The building contained a central hall, a theatre, a concert room, a reading room, picture galleries, refreshment rooms and conservatories.
The Great Hall, which divides the palace centrally, is 118m long and 56m wide and has a semicircular roof supported on rows of iron pillars. It houses the Willis Organ, whose bellows were driven by two steam engines with powers of 6kW and 9kW.
By 1900, the parkland had diminished to around 65 hectares and financial difficulties meant that the palace was not open to the public continuously. In the same year the Alexandra Palace & Park Trust was created by Act of Parliament, which stipulated that both palace and park be "available for the free use and recreation of the public forever". The property was bought by Middlesex County Council and assorted other local bodies for about £100,000.
The BBC made the first public television transmissions here in 1936. Alexandra Palace was the BBC’s main transmission centre until 1956, after which it was used only for news broadcasts.
Ownership was transferred to Haringey Council in January 1980. On 10th July 1980, a second fire wrecked the Great Hall, the banqueting suite, the former roller rink and the theatre dressing rooms. The BBC’s area and the palm court were undamaged. Restoration work was undertaken, and the palace reopened on 17th March 1988.
Alexandra Palace is now a charitable trust, administered by the London Borough of Haringey. Additional facilities now include an ice skating rink, bar, playground, animal enclosure and conservation area.
Architect: John Johnson
Contractor: Kelk Lucas & Co
Research: ECPK
bibliography
www.alexandrapalace.com
www.victorianlondon.org
Location

Alexandra Palace