September 25, 2013

Ally-Pally Restoration

Ally-Pally is the nickname for the Alexandra Palace, the people’s palace, which sits on one of the highest points of land in London. Parts of it were used by the BBC in the early years to broadcast their signal out to the country. It was originally opened in 1873, but destroyed by fire just two weeks later.

imageIt’s a massive building as you can see! The BBC’s transmitter tower is in the right of the picture.

imageThe redesigned building re-opened in 1875 and included a Victorian Theatre, which, between wars, the depression and another fire, was only used sporadically over the years. imageThe theatre was designed to seat more then 2,000 people, but it was closed up 65 years ago. imageNow there’s a plan to renovate the theatre to a stabilized “as found” state, retaining its current character and historical feel, using money from the national lottery that’s once again been freed up after funding the 2012 Olympics. imageWhile the renovations to the theatre take place, other parts of Ally Pally will be open to the public as they’ve been since the beginning.

imageIn fact, I’ve attended some antiques shows there and know that there are huge swaths of this space that I’ve never seen and that have probably been left unexplored for years. image

In addition to restoring the theatre, the old BBC studios and the massive basement will also be renovated. The Friends of the Ally Pally Theatre has a website with some great pictures, here.

8 comments:

  1. When I'm not wearing my decorator hat, I'm the official Historian of a National Landmark theater that was the biggest opera house in the world when it opened in 1889. The papers called the Auditorium Theatre "the Parthenon of modern civilization" when it opened, but it closed down in 1941 and wasn't restored until 1967. Some people said it was too far gone to save, but we're now in the 36th year of our second life, and I'm always glad to see other abandoned theaters given another chance. What I like best about this scheme is the plan not to restore the place it to its original appearance, but to freeze it--visually, at least--in its current decayed state. Old wiring will have to go, and friable lead paint that, if not removed, would likely sift onto the audience during amplified shows, but preserving the feel of a semi-ruin is an interesting approach, and one seldom taken. And if some crumbling elements are too far gone and have to be faked in their state of artfully arrested decay (rather than made as new-looking as they truly are) well, what better place to pull off such fakery than a theater, where the whole point is illusion? The only other place I've been in that took the same tack is the BAM Harvey Theater in Brooklyn, where the clash between what looks like crumbling ornament & modern industrial fittings is totally striking.

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    1. WOW! Thanks for all of that. I think it's pretty amazing that they're keeping it as-is. I will look forward to seeing it when it's finished.

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  2. Yes, I too have been to antique fairs at Ally Pally - somehow, they feel perfectly at home there, compared to other venues.

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    1. They feel so much more natural there than at some suburban hotel, don't they!

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  3. How odd, I am in the living room of my temporary digs and though I must be able to see it...and I look out the window I can see the antenna!!!

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  4. another neat place I had no idea existed -thanks for sharing! Love their idea of preserving the worn theater -love that idea!

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  5. this is wonderful knowledge + amazing photos. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

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