Darlington Civic Theatre
Restoring Edwardian-era theatre into a modern venue for the best acts
Restoring world famous Alexandra Palace's East Wing
Looking at the main stage - the ceiling decor unchanged from 1890s
Our restoration of the iconic Alexandra Palace is lifting the lid on a goldmine of Victorian-era architecture that hasn’t been seen for decades.We're going to completely renew the Palace’s derelict East Wing to turn its world-famous former BBC Studios into an immersive birthplace-of-TV experience.
1930s TV camera still at Ally Pally
Before that happens, we're bringing back the original 1870s grandeur, and it’s a sense of stepping back in time......
Three million people enjoy Alexandra Park and Palace every year, but when watching bands like Florence and the Machine or cheering on the darts, just yards away there's an astounding Theatre and Britain's first-ever broadcasting TV studio, lying hidden and derelict.
Operations manager Steve Harnett:
“It’s been a jaw dropping experience to see inside such a famous venue that been untouched for decades. It’s like stepping back into the 19th century when you see the décor. Our role now is to protect the East Wing's historic features, strip out dilapidated modern fittings and remove asbestos. The Victorians built Alexandra Palace to entertain, inform and educate visitors. Our job is to keep the Palace doing just that."
Willmott Dixon was chosen through our experience of:
Alexandra Palace’s restoration is being supported by award-winning architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios. Our work includes creating a new theatre with capacity of up to 1,300 people and also reinstating the balcony.
The theatre will be revived as a flexible space that can be used either in its original proscenium staging, or as an in-the-round or thrust configuration, with a flat floor so it can be used for other functions.
By 2018, the Palace’s former BBC Studios will become a birthplace-of-TV experience; while the Victorian Theatre will come back to life as a performance venue for 21st century audiences and the East Court entrance hall will recreate the sense of its original 1870s grandeur.
The restoration is the culmination of years of planning and months of negotiations in a rigorous procurement process, to realise the aspirations of the Trust.
"Almost half of Alexandra Palace is still inaccessible to the public. This project will help put that right," says Louise Stewart, Chief Executive of Alexandra Park and Palace. "When we're finished, Alexandra Palace’s eclectic history will finally come alive. It will be about Britain's innovators and pioneers, about cinema, comedy, opera, plays - a true family day out - as well as the music, award-winning parkland, views and ice skating we're famous for today."
Our initial work includes protecting the East Wing's historic features, stripping out dilapidated modern fittings and the delicate job of removing asbestos. The material, now banned, was used for sound-proofing and fire-proofing.
"The Victorians built Alexandra Palace with the ambition to entertain, inform and educate its visitors. My job is to keep the Palace doing just that," Stewart says. "The Victorians are gone, and the BBC is gone, but they're not forgotten. This restoration means that it remains as true to its vision 150 years later, as it was on the great day it opened - and that's something we can all be proud of.
Haringey Council is backing the project every step of the way. Council Leader Claire Kober:
“It’s fantastic to see Ally Pally’s stunning restoration plans move a step closer, writing the next chapter in the history of the borough’s most famous building. Alongside our ambitious regeneration plans for Wood Green, we want even more people from across the capital to visit Alexandra Palace as one of London’s top destinations. This work will help make that happen, opening up the spectacular hidden gems inside the palace to a new generation and securing its future for many years.”
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