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Photograph © London Tourist Board.
Billed as "The People's Palace," Alexandra Palace rests on a hilltop amid 196 acres of land outside of London. Thought the grounds were originally 300 acres, it is still a showplace, and a getaway. A recreation zone, and an exhibition space. It started in 1873 as a place where people form the city could go to get away from it all. Thousands of people flooded the facility when it opened. But the fun didn't last long. Just 16 days after it opened, the place burned to the ground. Within two years it was open again, entertaining generations of people. It has an indoor ice skating rink, a conservatory with a glass roof, banquet facilities, parks, playgrounds, and more. Its most important footnote in history, however, is the fact that this was the first television home of the British Broadcasting Company. In 1936, the BBC made its first television broadcast from the tower next to the palace. It remained the Beeb's center of activity until the 1950's, but to this day the tower still carries four television channels, and six radio stations. The tower's height is 220 feet, but the building is over 300 feet above sea level, making this an important transmission point. And as an entertainment and concert venue, the BBC thoughtfully built a concrete ramp that a television camera could be wheeled down in order to provide live broadcasts of events at the Palace.
>1873 - Alexandra Palace burns to the ground.
>1875 - Alexandra Palace is re-built.
>1936 - The BBC's first public television transmissions originate from the Alexandra Palace.
>10 July, 1980 - The Palace burns. Nearly half of the building is destroyed.
>17 March, 1988 - The Palace reopens.
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There are 21 comments.
Ally Pally was my garden when I was a small child, living in a flat in Wood Green we had nowhere else to play. I remember walking over the wooden bridge at the railway station and screaming when a steam train went underneath, filling the bridge with steam, walking up that steep hill and playing on the swings, going around the lake on the train, roller skating every Saturday - glorious times. Does anyone remember the 'bomb' that stuck out of the ground at an angle on the grass near the bottom on the left hand side as you are facing down? My brother and I used to use it as a slide then go roly-poly all the way to the bottom of the hill?
Rita Warwick - Wednesday, December 11th, 2013 @ 12:40pm
i used to roller skate at ally pally until it closed down we were told the vibration of the wooden wheels on the wooden floor was affecting the ceiling and wasnt safe to use then after a few yrs i joing alexandra park fc (football club ) for many happy years when walking up the hill from the wood green gates end i always used to see a sign saying BLANDFORD LODGE I Drobe through a few yrs ago and the sign isnt there any more i nevr knew wat or was blandford lodge .
david lewis - Monday, August 27th, 2012 @ 5:03pm
I worked on the refurbishment of the Palace in the mid 1980's installing the electrical systems. Great memories indeed, mainly due to the lack of Health and Safety regs at that time. I remember stopping work to watch the Rose window frame being hoisted into place,and a few of us used to eat our lunch sitting either side of the female statue right up at the top of the front arch! The worst memories were the weeks spent pulling armoured cables through the sub-basement areas, as the dust fleas would eat us alive all day, every day. This was compensated by the great times we'd have at the old Steam Rock Cafe in Muswell Hill in the evenings! I'd be hugely grateful if anybody could recommend a site where any photos of the refurb work might be obtained. Thanks in advance. GP.
Graham Payne - Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011 @ 1:44pm
I've never been to the Palace but have been told by my father that my grandfather was a regular visitor when he lived in London in the 1930s. (He'd gone to look for work during the Depression). The story goes that my grandfather was once the high-speed ice-skating champion - can this be true? I can only find references to roller-skating at that time. Later, when my father was a child, he remembers my grandfather excitedly getting out his ice-skates when nearby Oulton Broad froze over but they were old and rusty by then. He put on his old overcoat (all he had) and whizzed off over the ice!
Suzanne White - Sunday, October 16th, 2011 @ 8:31am
My family have enjoyed Alexandra palace for generations and I've happy memories of the steam train, boating lake, roller skating and the many public events such as the new year's eve fireworks and the dry ski slope. I barely recall the horse racing but relish the thought of it's return. The parklands have seen much regeneration in the last few years but the structure of the palace itself still shows the scars of the fire which destroyed it some 30 years ago - sad, very sad.
Ian Biddell - Tuesday, September 6th, 2011 @ 10:47am
Reference Janet White's post 10th September 2006: Following our marriage in 1952 my wife and I rented for some 3 years a first floor flat with a balcony over the front door in The Mansion in Alexandra Park Road, N22. The controlled rent was Â£2.00 per week. I'm trying to trace the history of The Mansion - but I do remember an impressive mosaic in the entrance hall bearing the inscription 'Cave Canem'.. Some years on The Mansion was demolished.
Ray Entwistle - Saturday, March 5th, 2011 @ 9:18am
Oh yes, skating home, down that long bendy hill, hoping your wheels wouldn't break and send you a*** over t**. Stopping, by jumping onto the grass at the bottom of the hill (by the public loos)! Oh yes, glorious days (nights even. rofl) wouldn't let you do that now.
Bill South - Sunday, May 23rd, 2010 @ 9:25pm
I have fond memories of Ally Pally, roller skating,the fair,bunny hills,the Dive,hot summer days and the great views on warm summer nights and the bikers at Curly's tea stall at the bottom of the hill Hornsey. We used to skate home on New Year wearing our white boots ruining our wheels then taking them to Beadles to have them repaired. A great time in my life.
vivien cook - Monday, March 29th, 2010 @ 10:47pm
I lived in Aleaxndra Park Road, 1953 to 1958 just below the Ally Pally.I played in the then called 'bunny hills' and roller skated at the rink many times.I remember the large fun fair every year, and the boating lake, when the steam train that went around the lake, overturned on a fast corner, crashed and killed about 6 people, and injured many more. A sad time.
Mike Graff - Saturday, November 28th, 2009 @ 7:27pm
This wonderfully iconic building, is clearly visible in the far distance from the South Bank of the Thames, as I noticed recently, when looking out of a window on the 22nd Floor of the Union Jack Club in Waterloo.
Marc J Quigley-Ferriday - Sunday, September 14th, 2008 @ 6:11pm
I worked on the fairground whilst at college about 1958. I also travelled on the old steam railway!
glyn jones - Saturday, January 12th, 2008 @ 2:12pm
There is a bronze head bust situated inside the building of Charles Henry Hocken, 1940's does anyone know the history of this man why is the bust thereIt may not be there now thanks so much
eric hardy - Sunday, July 29th, 2007 @ 6:02pm
iremeber rolling skating Saturday mornings, the boating lake, and the fun fair, I also remember the old mansion house at the foot of Ally Pally, does anyone else?Us kids spent all our school holidays up there. My father and I used to walk up Ally Pally every Sunday with our dog, come rain or shine. great memories!
Janet White - Sunday, September 10th, 2006 @ 12:48pm
I can see the palace from my street. It is such a prominant landmark for the whole of north london - I feel it should pass into the hnds of the national trust or english heritage an a project begun to restore it to its original 1875 use - plus the historic BBC alterations.As it currently stands it is a huge shame.
Darren Roberts - Monday, May 15th, 2006 @ 10:44am
In the 1950's/60's the West wing had a roller skating rink, advertised as having a "Canadian" maple floor. Skates were wooden wheels on alloy plates, with boxing boots for comfort. Large crowds attended the skating, dancing and racing sessions that attracted international skaters. It was a major stop on the European racing circuit.
Peter Hogan - Friday, January 13th, 2006 @ 8:49pm
My grandmother & family were billeted here during 1st world war as belgian refugees. This was one of several places the Belgian refugees were housed until being dispersed throughout England until it was deemed safe for them to return to their own country.
Victoria Salmon - Saturday, November 27th, 2004 @ 7:53am
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