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, it 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 all 450 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
2. What a difference a year makes
3. There's all the natural light you could possibly dream of
4. This part of the palace was originally an exhibition hall and arrival space
5. The auditorium during work on the new floor structure
6. A closer look at that glorious ceiling panelling
7. A towering birdcage scaffold was erected for ceiling repair work
8. Visible mesh and holes lends to the 'arrested decay' aesthetic
9. More ceiling detail
10. A more recent view of the auditorium
11. There's now a new floor and circle seating
12. A mystery headliner will be gracing the theatre on 1 December
13. The theatre foyer before works got underway
14. But even in monochrome, the bones of the building look marvellous
15. And finally, its exterior isn't too shabby, either
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.