New Book Captures Stunning Images Of Ally Pally's Hidden Theatre

By Maire Rose Connor Last edited 7 months ago

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New Book Captures Stunning Images Of Ally Pally's Hidden Theatre
Auditorium, November 2016

Did you know that Alexandra Palace secretly houses a spectacular 19th century theatre? Built in the 1870s, the opulent auditorium hosted grand pantomimes, operas and ballets until the outbreak of the first world war brought down the final curtain. It then became an internment camp hospital, before the BBC moved in and turned it into prop storage unit. As the decades passed, the theatre became increasingly derelict, closed off from public view except for a couple of film cameos, including a Penelope Cruz-starring soft drink ad.

Thanks to a huge Lottery-funded revamp of the palace's entire East Wing, the theatre is being restored to its former glory. Its grand reopening begins on 1 December, with an eclectic programme of events, but you don't have to wait that long to get a glimpse inside.

Photographer Keith Armstrong has spent the last three years capturing the month-by-month restoration project on camera, and has put all 450 of the fascinating images into a full colour hardback. The book won't launch until early December, but Keith has generously given us a sneak peek of what to expect.

So, without further ado, here's a selection of favourites:

1. Restoration work in the East Court, which will function as arrival space for theatregoers

East Court, May 2017

2. What a difference a year makes

East Court, May 2018

3. There's all the natural light you could possibly dream of

East Court, October 2017

4. This part of the palace was originally an exhibition hall and arrival space

East Court, June 2018

5. The auditorium during work on the new floor structure

Auditorium, December 2016

6. A closer look at that glorious ceiling panelling

Auditorium, November, 2016

7. A towering birdcage scaffold was erected for ceiling repair work

Auditorium, August 2017

8. Visible mesh and holes lends to the 'arrested decay' aesthetic

Auditorium, December 2017

9.  More ceiling detail

Auditorium, October 2017

10.  A more recent view of the auditorium

Auditorium, July 2018

11. There's now a new floor and circle seating

Auditorium, June 2018

12. A mystery headliner will be gracing the theatre on 1 December

Stage House, December 2016

13. The theatre foyer before works got underway

September 2017

14. But even in monochrome, the bones of the building look marvellous

March 2017

15. And finally, its exterior isn't too shabby, either

Exterior, December 2017

Restoration: Alexandra Palace | The East Wing by Keith Armstrong will be published on 3 December 2018. You can buy it from Amazon and Blurb books, and its also also available on Kindle and iBooks.

Last Updated 23 November 2018