Ally Pally’s £1m plea for ‘secret’ theatre

Alexandra Palace is to appeal to the public for £1m towards the restoration of its “secret” Victorian Theatre.

The theatre has staged just one production in 80 years, but is to be restored to its former glory as part of the £26.4m East Wing Restoration Project for what was known as the People’s Palace.

In the programme the east side of the huge site, comprising the BBC studios and the theatre, will be repaired and restored with the glazed East Court becoming the Grand Hall exhibition space it was intended to be.

The largely forgotten theatre, created to stage opera, musicals and variety entertainment, remains with much of its original décor intact and the stage machinery still in place.

Designed by John Johnson and opened in 1875, the theatre could seat 2,500 people, but it has had a chequered history. It has been used as a cinema, a refugee centre in the First World War, an internment camp in the Second World War, and a BBC props store.

“The theatre has been hidden away for over 80 years, which has created a unique and atmospheric space which you can’t fail to be moved by” said Louise Stewart, chief executive of Alexandra Park and Palace Charitable Trust. “Alexandra Palace is the original ‘Peoples Palace’, held in trust for the public to enjoy forever, so we are appealing to the public to help us to make sure that this truly wonderful space can once again delight and entertain them, the audience it was intended for.

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