It was born out of the industrial revolution, as factories drew former agricultural workers to increasingly crammed cities. Living conditions were poor but out of the developments in technology came solutions. Victorian entrepreneurs saw an opportunity to provide wider access to leisure, recreation and education. In this spirit, Alexandra Park and Palace was conceived as a “Palace for the People”.

The Park was opened in 1863 with construction work on the Palace starting in 1865. Alexandra Palace opened to the public on 24 May 1873 but burnt down 16 days later. With typical Victorian vigour, work quickly began on a new Palace, which opened in 1875.

A series of changes in ownership led its owners to sell it for development in 1900. A campaign led by local man Henry Burt allowed a consortium to raise the funds and preserve the Park and Palace for the people of London. With funds secured, it was placed in trust by an Act of Parliament. The Alexandra Park and Palace (Public Purposes) Act 1900 stated that the building and grounds should be “available for the free use and recreation of the public forever”.

Crafts created by families on display

Much has changed in the world since then but Ally Pally has remained the People’s Palace. Today, Alexandra Park and Palace Charitable Trust remains responsible for its repair, maintenance and restoration and also provides a year-round programme of entertainment, culture and leisure activities – welcoming millions of visitors each year and working with communities across Haringey and beyond.

Picture
the past

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