North London’s Ally Pally has been given just over £550,000 to help reopen the Palace’s derelict East Wing and bring it back into use.
The funding, supplied by Historic England, will enable the Palace team to stabilise the North East Office Building, the last remaining truly inaccessible area in the 7 acre ‘People’s Palace’. The grant will also pave the way for feasibility work into how the space can be developed for public benefit for the first time in the Palace’s long history.
The Office Building was used as far back as 1875, to house the ‘offices of the administrators’, a ticket office, porter facilities, a costume room and the Palace’s First Superintendent. It was last used by the Open University production unit, which broadcast educational programmes from the Palace’s TV studios between 1971 and 1981.
The structural work, which includes removing decayed brickwork and timber, the removal and storing of historic roof lanterns, and installing a new roof covering, is due to commence in early December and is expected to take 4 months.
The funding comes via Historic England’s Heritage at Risk programme, which focuses on the risk faced by some of the most significant sites in England which, without grant support, cannot pursue restoration projects.
The East Wing grant marks the next phase of the major restoration project that saw the Palace’s Theatre reopen in 2018 following 80 years of closure, alongside the transformation of the East Court, thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Haringey Council.
Tom Foxall, Regional Director at Historic England commented “Our funding for the North East Office Building is designed to address the most urgent repair work and act as a springboard to access further funding which will open up the area to the public for the first time. We have worked closely with the Trust for a number of years, helping to shape and secure the repair of the building. Alexandra Palace is a vast site full of unique and intriguing spaces and we’re pleased to be able to support this essential work, following a project development grant in 2020.”
Alexandra Palace opened in 1873, only to burn down 16 days later. It reopened in 1875, and in 1900, an Act of Parliament placed the Park and Palace in public ownership so that it could remain ‘a place of public resort and recreation’. The site suffered another devastating fire in 1980.
In recent years, the proportion of the Palace that remains out of use has been reduced from 40% to 29%. Restoration of the building, and its associated benefits is at the heart of the charity’s vision for the future.