Welcome! ... to the Friends website - our resource of news and information about the 'almost lost' theatre at Alexandra Palace. and about its Friends. Please look back from time to time to keep up with news. Even better, and simpler, sign up for our newsletter, and we'll keep you updated on the current state of the theatre, what's happening now, the place of the theatre in the wider plans for the regeneration of Alexandra Palace, and especially, what the Friends are doing. If you have any questions or comments, please get in touch!
Membership of the Friends is currently a nominal £5 (£2 concessions), and will mean you're kept more closely 'in the loop' than the general public. We'd love you to join us!
You can also keep up with 'APTheatre' on...
The first two of the Friends' short videos about the history of the theatre are now online. See the recent refurbishment work from inside the theatre and hear about what makes the auditorium special. You'll find them on the Friends YouTube channel.
And if you enjoy them, please share and forward them to your friends so the story of the theatre gets better known. (And maybe they'll become Friends of the Theatre or donate to help with the restoration work!)
Further videos are in production and we'll send members of the Friends update emails early next year as they become available - or just check in to the channel.
... for a good friend or yourself! The early history of the AP Theatre is described in: 'Drama at the Palace - Victorian Heyday'. Based on research and much previously undocumented material, the book is both detailed and a wonderful eye-opener on a period of unlimited ambition. It's also great value at just £8.50 or £7.00 to members. It's available by post from the Friends' Shop.
...to the Bowes Park Community Choir who donated the proceeds of their Christmas Concert towards the restoration of the Theatre. Here's more about the concert and choir.
Including a description and photo of the unique brick arches discovered under the floor of the auditorium, news from the Friends, and about our forthcoming short films, and two articles from new research on the actress and producer Lillie Langtree who appeared at the Theatre in 1885, and the actress Nancy McMillan, who performed at the Theatre between 1923 and 1930.
The newsletter is free to download at: fapt_news_2016-11.pdf
... with much more information about the restoration of the whole of the east end of the Palace - not just the Theatre but also the Television Studios and the East Court.
Your name on a plaque...
The Theatre now needs your support in order to release the last tranche of the HLF grant. Every donation of any size will help, with those of £25 and above being recognised on a plaque in the Theatre Foyer.
For the Friends, we agreed at our October committee meeting that among other ways we would be supporting, we will contribute £900 towards one of the fixed seats in the Theatre.
A lot has been happening since the exhibition below was held!
Work has begun in ernest in the theatre, with the original floorboards in the auditorium carefully numbered, lifted, and stored on the stage. This has exposed the fascinating arched dwarf walls that supported the floor. At the rear of the theatre, panelling that had been used to sub-divide the space under the balcony into small rooms used for storage and a bar has been removed. This opened-out space will become the storage area for the retractable seating that will provide the flexibility of use essential for the planned diversity of future uses of the theatre. As you can see from the photos in the slideshow above, all the walls and pillars of the theatre have now been sheathed in wood boards to protect them from accidental damage during the extensive works.
Meanwhile, James Atkinson, the new head of fund-raising, has energetically set in motion the campaign to raise the final tranche of funding needed to complete the project. In the last few weeks, items have appeared in the national press, the London Evening Standard, and on TV news. Here is the new video: Help us bring the Victorian Theatre back to life.
Exhibition open to Sun 10 July
A new exhibition of etchings by artist Teresa Schippel Hales, inspired by the Victorian Theatre at Alexandra Palace, has opened at the Green Room Arts Hotel in Wood Green and will run until Sunday 10th July. The exhibition is in the bar on the ground floor, and entry is free of charge.
Teresa is a local north London artist and member of the Friends of Alexandra Palace Theatre. She has created 16 etchings, and a strictly limited number of each will be available to buy during the exhibition. The etchings are based on photographs of the unique interior of the theatre, which remains much as it was when it was opened in 1875.
The Victorian Theatre has not hosted regular public performances for 80 years, and was used as a props store by the BBC when they broadcast television from Alexandra Palace. Now, with funding from Heritage Lottery Fund and Haringey Council, it – alongside the BBC studios – is part of a major restoration of the East Wing of Alexandra Palace. Re-opening in spring 2018, the restoration will bring the theatre back to life, once again allowing audiences to enjoy live performances in this historic theatre.
All proceeds from the sale of the artwork will go towards the £1million fundraising target that is needed to complete the restoration of the East Wing at Alexandra Palace.
Here's the website of the beautiful and fascinating Art Deco Green Rooms, which gives full details of where it is: http://www.greenrooms.london/#/home
Our AGM will be held on 18 May at 7pm in the Londesborough Room (entrance from the Palm Court, west entrance of the Palace). Louise Stewart, the new Chief Executive of the Palace, will be speaking. Full details here: AGM 2016.
Our AGM will be held on 18 May at 7pm. Work on the theatre has begun. Our thanks again to designer Lindley Smith (@floppylion) and committee member Graham for the beautiful production of our newsletter.
View or download at: FAPT News April 2016.
Please note that the following item has been retained for the record, but prints are no longer available.
Buy a beautiful, limited-edition, Alexandra Palace digital fine art print, and help Ally Pally reach its funding target towards the restoration of the theatre and TV studios.
Designed by Ray Stansbrook, each print is signed and numbered and is from a run of 250 prints. Size: A3 – 420 x 297. Year: 2015.
Digital fine art - high quality digital printing using ultrachrome archival inks on heavyweight fine art paper.
The sale of these prints will help fund the restoration of Alexandra Palace’s East Wing. This includes the restoration of the Victorian Theatre dating back to 1875, the former BBC Studios from which the first public high-definition television transmission was made in 1936, and the magnificent East Court which links them.
Alexandra Park and Palace has provided a destination of fun, wonder and entertainment for over 140 years. A major restoration of the most historic and derelict parts of the Palace is beginning, and will protect these spaces for generations to come. The sale of these art works will contribute to the final £1 million needed.
The cost of each print is just £55.00. The print is sold unframed and will be sent in a sturdy cardboard tube. The price includes postage and packaging (or you may collect in person if more convenient).
100% of the sale of this item will benefit Alexandra Park and Palace Charitable Trust. Alexandra Palace is a registered charity no. 281991.
For a larger image, and to buy, click here to go to eBay: Fine Art Print sale page.
NB The sales of these prints are being handled by Alexandra Palace (not FAPT). Any queries should be addressed to AP using the 'Seller information' button on the eBay page.
Our largest yet at three pages, but there is a lot to tell you! Among many stories, the main contractor has just been appointed, and work will start in January. The Palace has a new Chief Executive. We have been involved in developing the future theatre programming policy, and would like to hear from you on it. Last but not least, we are selling a historic Christmas card designed for the Ally Pally of 100 years ago which will help fund the restoration. Our thanks to designer Lindley Smith (@floppylion) and committee member Graham for the beautiful production of our newsletter.
View or download at: FAPT News Dec 2015.
Our news release celebrating the award by the HLF of £18.8 million grant for the restoration of the Theatre, TV Studios and East Court as sent to members and supporters...
I am writing on behalf of the Friends committee to tell you the good news that the Alexandra Palace Trust has secured an £18.8 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards the regeneration of the theatre and a large part of the eastern end of the Palace, the original Victorian part of the Palace.
This is wonderful culmination to more than a dozen years of campaigning by the Friends and supporters to bring the theatre back into public use.
Our thanks go to Duncan Wilson, Ally Pally's chief executive, and all his team for all their hard work in preparing and developing the bid, and for this fantastic result.
The full announcement by Alexandra Palace is below. We will let you know as soon as we have more details on how the project will now proceed.
Chair, Friends of the Alexandra Palace Theatre
[PS Drama at the Palace, our recently published history of the Victorian theatre, is still available from the Friends website (http://fapt.org.uk/w/shop) at £7 for members or £8.50 for non-members, and on Amazon at £8.50.]
For immediate release
ICONIC LONDON LANDMARK SECURES £18.8M IN HERITAGE LOTTERY FUND SUPPORT
Alexandra Palace celebrates ‘green light' for historic renovation plans.
Alexandra Park and Palace Charitable Trust (APPCT) is delighted to announce that it has been awarded £18.8million of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to restore the Palace’s most significant historic spaces to their former glory and secure the Palace's future as one of London's leading heritage destinations.
Under the plans, the eastern end of the Palace, comprising the BBC Studios and the Victorian Theatre will be repaired and refurbished, together with the glazed East Court in which a new and more welcoming public entrance hall will be created.
The BBC studios - birthplace of high-definition television broadcasts in 1936 - will be turned into an interactive visitor attraction, drawing on the BBC’s extraordinarily rich archives and telling the remarkable story of popular entertainment culminating in the birth and development of broadcast television. There will be a special focus on schools and learning programmes, displays of historic equipment and hands-on engagement with the art of making television programmes.
The Palace’s stunning hidden theatre dating back to 1875 will also be brought back to life for community and commercial use with theatrical performances, cinema screenings, live comedy, acoustic music and corporate entertainment among the ideas backed by leading arts figures. The theatre will accommodate audiences of up to 1,300 but has been designed to suit smaller and more intimate audience numbers too.
Duncan Wilson OBE, Chief Executive of APPCT commented:
"We are thrilled with the HLF announcement. Today marks a hugely positive and significant step in realising our aspirations to bring the Victorian Theatre and BBC Studios back to life and fulfil the potential of the Palace and its remarkable history for the local community, visitors from all over the UK, and overseas.
"There are further challenges ahead, including the launch of a new fundraising programme and preparing the Palace for the start of the construction programme later this year, but this announcement represents a huge achievement for the Trust and its supporters."
Carole Souter, Chief Executive of HLF, said:
"Alexandra Palace has played a pivotal role in the development of popular entertainment – culminating in the birth of British television. The Eastern end has stood derelict for 35 years but now Lottery funding is heralding a new chapter for this iconic building, creating an inspirational space where people can learn about its rich and colourful history."
As part of the development phase, a summer-long public engagement programme was undertaken, culminating in a 2-week Public Exhibition at the Palace, which welcomed over 2,000 visitors, with over 400 people completing feedback forms on the plans.
Cllr Joanna Christophides, Chair of the APPCT Board said:
"I have been hugely encouraged by the show of local community support we have received in the lead up to this decision and I would like to thank everyone for their valuable contribution. We are already starting to see the benefit of this project with the growth of our pubic engagement programmes, including history tours, volunteering initiatives and our schools programme over the past two years. We are very grateful to the HLF for backing our plans to transform the Palace."
The award of £18.8million HLF funding contributes towards the total project cost of £26.7m, with the London Borough of Haringey having pledged £6.8m and the Trust committing to a fundraising target of £1m before the start of the project in 2016.
Haringey Council Leader Claire Kober said:
"It's fantastic news that the Heritage Lottery Fund has embraced this exciting vision for Ally Pally, which secures the long-term future of one of London's most iconic landmarks. Alexandra Palace has been through some challenging times, but this historic restoration will allow some of the building’s hidden gems to finally be unveiled. This tremendous achievement is testament to the hard work, determination and enthusiasm of staff and local people."
Also available as a PDF to print, view or save at: News Release 27 March 2015
Our February 2015 newsletter is available for download at: FAPT News Feb 2015.
New book on AP Theatre
Just published, the new book about the Alexandra Palace Theatre - Drama at the Palace - is available via the Friends' website. Written by Nigel Willmott and Pat Brearey, it contains a wealth of new information based on research. Full details are at: http://fapt.org.uk/w/shop
SPECIAL OFFER: The cost of Drama at the Palace to members is a bargain £7.00 plus £2 post and packing, saving £2.30 over the Amazon price! Membership of the Friends still costs just £2.
Planning for AP restoration works
On Monday 16 February, the application for planning and listed building permissions for the Heritage Lottery Fund works to restore the Theatre, rejuvenate the East Court, and open up the Television Studios goes before the Haringey Planning Committee (7pm at the Civic Centre in Wood Green). The meeting is open to the public and represents a crucial step in the overall process towards achieving the HLF grant. If you haven't previously seen the proposals, they will be presented as part of the meeting.