Built in 1873 in the Victorian style, Alexandra Palace was originally a public centre for recreation, education and entertainment. The magnificent building with its surrounding park was also used as a radio station and an internment camp. Now it is a multi-purpose venue that serves as an exhibition centre, music venue and conference centre.
Since its construction, the Alexandra Palace has hosted numerous notable events. These include Brit Awards ceremonies, Miss World beauty contests or concerts of such famous bands and singers as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Blur, Robbie Williams, Florence and the Machine, Jay-Z or Lacuna Coil. During the 2012 London Olympics the place will serve as the official Dutch Olympic team’s residence. The venue also includes an ice rink, boating lake, deer enclosure, skate park and a dance school.
The original Alexandra Palace was erected in 1873 as North London’s counterpart to the Crystal Palace in South London, but after just 16 days it was destroyed by fire. The new palace contained a concert hall, art galleries, a museum, a lecture hall, a library, a banqueting room and a theatre.
With typical Victorian vigour, the palace was quickly rebuilt and reopened on 1 May 1875. An open-air swimming pool was constructed at the base of the hill in the surrounding park; the pool is now long closed and little trace remains except some reeds. The grounds included a racecourse with grandstand (Alexandra Park, which closed in 1970), a Japanese village, a switchback ride, a boating lake and a nine-hole pitch-and-putt golf course. Alexandra Park Cricket and Football Club have also played within the grounds. During World War I the park was closed and the palace and grounds were used as an internment camp for German and Austrian civilians. In 1935 the trustees leased part of the palace to the BBC for use as the production and transmission centre for their new BBC Television Service. In the early 1960s an outside broadcast was made from the very top of the tower, in which the first passage of a satellite across the London sky was watched and described. It continued to be used for news broadcasts until 1969. The antenna mast still stands, and is still used for local terrestrial television transmission, local commercial radio and digital audio broadcasts. An ice rink was installed in 1990. Primarily intended for public skating, it has also housed ice hockey teams, including the Haringey Racers, the Haringey Greyhounds and briefly the London Racers.