London Screen Archives explore the Alexandra Palace restoration project


The LSA team recently got a behind-the-scenes tour of the Alexandra Palace East Wing as it undergoes a major restoration. This venue used to house a BBC studio and a Victorian theatre in that part of the building, and a project is currently underway to revive it. Today, Londoners would be more likely to use the venue for gigs or fireworks displays, but aside from restoring the wing to its former glory,  the new space will play host to events as well as a new multimedia visitor attraction, drawing on the building’s crucial role in the history of broadcasting and entertainment (the world’s first regular high-definition live TV service was beamed from here.)

The disrepair of the East Wing is down to a fire that claimed the Great Hall and most of the western part of the building in 1980 - the second unfortunate incident to strike the People’s Palace. Repairs took eight years, but although the fire left the East Wing mostly unharmed, it has never been fully restored. This new project, supported through the Heritage Lottery Fund, London Borough of Haringey and public donations, aims to right that wrong.

You can see some archive footage of the "Ally Pally" below at the BFI and LSA sites, and you can read more about the project here.

Alexandra Palace in the 1927 film Canine Beauties (BFI)

What Future for Haringey? (1974, Bruce Castle Museum)




Owen Van Spall

Greetings. I am a Film History MA graduate from Birkbeck University of London and a trained NCTJ qualified journalist. Apart from a long history of film and news writing for this site and various other publications, I am also a trained photographer with my own camera kit. I write mostly every day. Along the way I have picked up work experience at Sight & Sound, The Guardian, The Independent, The FT, The New Statesman, and more. I have written hard news stories, features, arranged and conducted interviews with celebrities, film directors and other major cultural figures, arranged photo shoots, and covered film festivals, conferences and events in the UK and abroad. If you wish to commission me or enquire about full-time opportunities please find my CV and contact details below. A physical portfolio of print only cuttings can also be provided.