A look back in time

1873

1873

A short-lived inauguration

Alexandra Palace opened on Queen Victoria's 54th birthday with a grand celebration including concerts, recitals and fireworks. Tragedy struck 16 days later when a fire broke out in the Palace.

1875

1875

The new Alexandra Palace

The new Alexandra Palace opened to the public with its new Henry Willis organ: one of the largest in Europe at the time.

1875

The new Alexandra Palace

The new Alexandra Palace illustration.

1880

1880

Dr. Holden’s Magical Entertainment

Dr. Holden performs ‘Conjuring Experiments, consisting of Occidental and Oriental Magic, acquired by him during his recent travels around the world.’

1880

Venetian Fête

The lake is illuminated, with the Alexandra Palace Choir perform as Singing Gondolas. The event was so popular it caused overcrowding and additional performances had to be added.

1882

1882

First Aerial Photograph

Cecil Shadbolt takes the first aerial photograph in the UK over Alexandra Palace, but neglects to photograph the Palace itself!

1887

1887

The Siege of Sevastopol

The largest Panorama Picture in London, previously exhibited at the Champs Elysees, Paris.

1888

1888

Dr Barton

Dr Barton and his airship built in the grounds of Alexandra Park.

1888

Queen Mary

Queen Mary at Alexandra Palace inspecting the arrangements.

1888

Underwater feats in a crystal tank

Miss Alice Webb performs in her crystal water tank, eating, drinking, sewing, peeling an apple, smoking and writing.

1896

1896

Parade

Parade on the Race Course showing the Victorian Grandstand at Alexandra Palace.

1898

1898

Switchback Railway

A Victorian rollercoaster is installed in the Park.

Play

1898

Colonel Cody’s Wild West Show

Samuel Franklin Cody brought his Wild West Show to Alexandra Palace. Not to be confused with ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody, Sam was an aerial innovator and brought his kite exhibition to Alexandra Palace in 1903.

1902

1902

Colonial Troops

In celebration of the Coronation of Edward VII, colonial troops from around the world are gathered at Alexandra Palace.

1905

1905

Did you know?

1905 saw a Nelson Ball held at the Palace and a full-sized replica of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square was brought into the Great Hall.

1906

1906

Edwardian Daredevil Dolly Shepherd

Former Alexandra Palace waitress, Miss Dolly Shepherd and Captain Gaudron parachute from 4,500 ft over Alexandra Palace. Before embarking Dolly kisses a young lady in the audience.

1910

1910

Percy Honri’s New Pavilion

Music Hall star Percy Honri performs with his troupe in a new theatrical pavilion in the Park.

1913

1913

Did you know?

Winston Churchill spoke in the Great Hall in 1913 but attendees complained that “only those in front and the specially favoured ones on the platform” could hear well.

1914

1914

The WWI Years

Alexandra Palace was requisitioned by the Government to be used first as a Belgian refugee camp and later as a German and Austrian internment camp for the duration of WWI.

1914

Did you know?

Following the outbreak of war the Palace grounds were closed without warning. Signs at each entrance read: ‘Until further notice, the Palace Grounds are closed to the public who are warned that any unauthorised person found in the grounds is liable to be shot—By Order’.

1914

Refugees at the Palace

During the War, the Theatre is converted into a chapel where the Catholic Belgians could take mass. In July, the AP Executive Committee agree to a request for soldiers and their horses to be billeted at the Palace in the event of mobilisation.

1914

Refugee’s luggage by the organ

Belongings of Refugees around Willis Organ.

1914

Hospital in the Theatre

The former Bijou Theatre at Alexandra Palace was used as a hospital for Belgian and Dutch refugees during the first year of the First World War.

1914

Beds in the Great Hall

Beds laid out for refugees in the early stages of the war.

1915

1915

Internment Camp

In May of 1915 the Palace becomes an internment camp, with barbed wire fencing and sentries.

1922

1922

Palace Refurbished

The Palace reopens following extended refurbishment after damage during the First World War. In the Theatre a new bar is installed under the circle and management is taken over by W. J. MacQueen-Pope.

1922

Scout Rally

73,000 Scouts rally at Alexandra Palace, with Chief Scout and founder, Robert Baden-Powell.

1925

1925

Did you know?

In 1925, the Kennel Club held a dog show at the Palace with such an array of rare and speciality breeds that the dogs were said to be worth an estimated £25,000.

1925

Shakespeare Festival

Ben Greet Players perform a series of Shakespeare plays in the Theatre and a statue is installed in the East Court.

1928

1928

Gracie Fields

Gracie Fields produces ‘The Show’s the Thing’ at the Alexandra Palace Theatre. It transfers to a successful West End run and tour.

1936

1936

Birthplace of the BBC

On 2 November the world's first regular high-definition public television broadcast took place from the BBC studios at Alexandra Palace.

1939

1939

Organ Restored

Having been damaged in the First World War the Grand Willis Organ is finally restored and re-pitched a semitone lower. Sir Henry Wood conducts a Handel festival, whilst Mr. G.D. Cunningham plays the organ.

1940

1940

Refugee Centre

Belgian refugees returned to Alexandra Palace during WWII.

1941

1941

Blitz

The television transmitter was used to jam the Luftwaffe navigation systems. A bomb exploded to the north of the Palace, damaging the organ.

1945

1945

Pre-fab village

The Great Hall is filled with prefabricated houses to show councils what rehousing would be available in the aftermath of war.

1946

1946

Muffin the Mule

The first dedicated children’s television programme makes a star out of Muffin the Mule.

Play

1948

1948

Recording television

Telerecording allows television to be directly recorded for the first time. The Remembrance Ceremony at the Cenotaph is the first broadcast recorded. Adelaide Hall is the first performer to be recorded.

Play

1954

1954

Closure of Alexandra Palace station

Passenger trains cease to serve Alexandra Palace directly.

1954

Television news and newsreel

The studios at Alexandra Palace become the dedicated home for television news.

Play

1954

Colour television trials

The BBC begins testing colour television out of hours.

Play

1961

1961

Sean Connery – Footballer

A young Sean Connery plays with the Showbiz XI at an ‘All Stars’ Football Match at the Alexandra Park F.C. Ground.

1962

1962

All night festival of jazz

Festival of jazz in 1962.

1964

1964

BBC Two

Due to a power cut affecting BBC Television Centre in Shepherd’s Bush, BBC Two is launched from Alexandra Palace.

Play

1964

Hornsey College of Art

The Fine Art department of the prestigious and influential Hornsey College of Art moves into Alexandra Palace.

1967

1967

14 hour technicolor dream

The seminal psychedelic happening of the Summer of Love brings John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and the leading lights of the Underground together for an all night event headlined by Pink Floyd.

Play

1969

1969

The Who

The Who stop off at Alexandra Palace on their iconic Tommy tour.

1971

1971

Blandford Hall Fire

In the ongoing history of destructive fires the Tudor Ballroom, or Blandford Hall, burns down. It is followed by the stables and cricket pavilion.

1973

1973

Leo the Lion

Documents recently unearthed from the AP archives have revealed the origins of Leo the Lion. This popular bronze sculpture by the boating lake is been climbed on by thousands of children over the last forty years. In early 1973, Sir Charles Wheeler was commission to produce a lion sculpture for Alexandra Park for siting at the children’s zoo. Sir Charles worked on many public buildings, the Bank of England and a fountain in Trafalgar Square.

1973

Black Sabbath

Ozzy Osbourne on stage at Alexandra Palace.

1974

1974

Grateful Dead

Grateful Dead performing at Alexandra Palace.

Play

1979

1979

Capital Radio jazz festival

Jazz legends perform at the weekend festival, including Herbie Hancock, Dave Brubeck, B.B. King, Muddy Waters and Dizzy Gillespie.

1979

Queen

Queen play live at Alexandra Palace during the band’s ‘Crazy Tour of London’.

Play

1979

Rock Against Racism

The final concert of Rock Against Racism is held at Alexandra Palace. RAR brought together pop, rock, punk and reggae musicians on a mixed bill which campaigned against a rise in racism and racial conflict.

1980

1980

Fire at the Palace

For the second time, fire broke out across Alexandra Palace burning a large part of the building to the ground. Substantial restoration works began shortly after the fire and the Palace finally re-opened in 1988.

1980

Beat the Blues Festival

Punk takes over Alexandra Palace with performances by The Slits, The Raincoats, The Pop Group and poet John Cooper Clarke.

Play

1982

1982

The Jam

While the Palace was being rebuilt, a temporary structure was built so we could continue to host events - including a performance from The Jam.

1985

1985

Frank Warren presents international boxing

Promoter Frank Warren presents three fights at the Alexandra Pavilion, including Terry Marsh, who would later be accused but acquitted of shooting Warren.

1985

Cultural festival of India

Celebrating 5,000 years of Indian heritage, across 25 acres of Alexandra Park, through music, dance, arts and crafts and the ‘Cradle of Civilisation’; featuring 60 tableaux constructed using traditional materials and fabrics.

1988

1988

Barry Manilow

Barry Manilow becomes one of the first acts in the newly restored and reopened Alexandra Palace.

1989

1989

The Stone Roses

The Stone Roses play their first London gig at the height of Madchester.

Play

1990

1990

The Stranglers

The Stranglers perform their last gig with Hugh Cornwell at Alexandra Palace.

Play

1992

1992

Morrissey

Morrissey plays Alexandra Palace for the first time.

1993

1993

The BRIT Awards

The Brit Awards begin a three-year residency at Alexandra Palace. Performances include Madonna, Take That, Pet Shop Boys, duets from Sting with M People, Bjork with PJ Harvey, and Elton John with Ru Paul!

Play

1994

1994

Blur – Parklife

Blur bring the sound of BritPop to Alexandra Palace, playing their seminal album Parklife, and supported by Pulp.

Play

1994

The Afro Hair and Beauty show

The Afro Hair and Beauty Show arrives at Alexandra Palace, and for the next 15 years presents the latest styles, trends and glamour.

1996

1996

MTV Europe Music Award

Hosted by Robbie Williams, performers include George Michael, The Fugees, The Smashing Pumpkins and a notoriously foul mouthed performance by Metallica.

Play

1997

1997

Spice Girls launch McLaren MP4-12

The Spice Girls join Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard to launch the new look, silver McLaren. Jamiroquai play the launch party for 5,000 guests.

Play

1998

1998

Electro New Years Eve

Huge show on New Years Eve from The Chemical Brothers, New Order and Underworld.

Play

2000

2000

MOBO Awards

Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes and Trevor Nelson host the MOBO Awards, with Craig David as the big winner of the night, and performances from The Fugees, Gabrielle and Sade.

Play

2001

2001

UK Garage

Universal Sounds presents all night UK Garage, Drum & Bass, and R’n’B. Acts include So Solid Crew, Pay As You Go Cartel, Heartless Crew, laying the base for what would become Grime.

Play

2002

2002

A Royal visit

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip meeting with Rosemary Warne (Deputy lieutenant) 6th June 2002.

2003

2003

Indie bands take over

The Noughties explosion of indie music brings Kings of Leon to Palace, followed by The White Stripes in 2004, Kasabian and Franz Ferdinand in 2005 and the Arctic Monkeys in 2007.

2009

2009

Jay Z

Parts of Jay Z’s “Young Forever” were filmed during this concert.

Play

2010

2010

Secret Cinema

The Park is filled with Bedouin as Secret Cinema bring Lawrence of Arabia to transform Alexandra Palace.

2010

Bio-blitz

The environment around Alexandra Palace is special for its biodiversity. In 2010, the Natural History Museum conducted a ‘bio-blitz’ and in the space of 24 hours, over 700 species in the park were recorded.

2010

EDM arrives

Swedish House Mafia played Alexandra Palace, followed by Skrillex and Chase & Status in 2011, and David Guetta in 2012.

Play

2011

2011

All Tomorrow’s Parties

Portishead curate for All Tomorrow’s Parties the I’ll Be Your Mirror Festival, headlined by PJ Harvey and Grinderman.

2013

2013

Björk

Björk performed the first-ever concert “in the round” at the venue.

2013

Red Bull Soapbox Derby

2014

2014

alt-j & The Libertines

alt-j & The Libertines both perform at Alexandra Palace in 2014.

2015

2015

Prodigy & Disclosure

Prodigy & Disclosure both rock the venue in 2015.

2016

2016

Afropunk

Alexandra Palace hosts the UK’s first Afropunk event, headlined by Grace Jones.

2016

Skepta

Hot off winning the Mercury Music Prize, Skepta comes back to his North London base.

2017

2017

Drone racing

Coined ‘The Sport of the Future’, Alexandra Palace hosts the UK’s first professional drone race, the finale of the Allianz World Championship.

Play

2017

Spotify – Who We Be

The first ever Spotify live event in the UK, bringing the power house of streaming and major urban, grime and hip hop UK artists.

2018

2018

Kaleidoscope

We produced our first ever music and arts festival - taking place across the Palace and basements.

Play

2018

BBC Proms

The BBC Concert Orchestra performed in the Theatre ahead of the completion of the East Wing Restoration Project.

2018

Theatre and East Court reopens

The long lost Theatre reopens for performance, for the first time in over 80 years.

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