Lynne Featherstone

MP for Hornsey and Wood Green

my blog
Lynne's Parliament and Haringey Diary, established 2003

Birthplace of TV at Alexandra Palace to be lost?

Another The future of the birthplace of regular TV at Alexandra Palace is under threatlocal issue that has blown up is the danger that the Ally Pally TV studios are in as the Ally Pally Board, headed by Haringey Labour councillor Charles Adje, has now confirmed that there is no long-term protection for the studios (the birth place of television) in the proposed sale of the Palace to the Firoka Group on a 125 year lease.

The television studios at Alexandra Palace were occupied in 1935 by the BBC, and in 1936 the first television broadcasts were made from the site. The lease that could be signed with the Firoka group only requires that the group provide a space for a museum somewhere within the building, not the maintenance of the original studios.

My Lib Dem councillor colleague, Bob Hare, who is Lib Dem Alexandra Palace spokesperson put it very well I thought – “This is the equivalent of losing Stonehenge and replacing it with a fibreglass replica. The television studios are of vast historical importance not just locally but nationally and internationally. It is a crying shame that in their rush to complete the deal with Firoka, there has been no thought given to their long-term survival. We must do everything we can to ensure that our children do not regret the hasty decisions that are being made about the future of Ally Pally.”

The Charity Commission will soon start a short, one-month public consultation on the proposals to sell the Palace – so here’s your chance to have a save and help save the TV studios by emailing the Charity Commission at enquiries@charitycommission.gsi.gov.uk

As always the emails that work best with this sort of lobbying are short, temperate but clear messages that include your full name and postal address. It would be handy if you could also copy your email to me at lynne@lynnefeatherstone.org

(It would also help the campaign if you can mention this lobbying campaign, such as by linking to this blog posting, on any appropriate website or blog you have).

I am also tabling an Early Day Motion in Parliament – so if you don’t live in my constituency you can contact your MP asking them to sign this EDM when it comes up for signature.

UPDATE: You can read about the latest state of play here.

Sun 29 October 2006
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Comments

  1. anton says:

    Those were the days that the BBC represented Britain … how low it has now fallen!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m assuming someone has got the BBC Heritage department onto this and that they are also lobbying on our behalf

  3. Lynne says:

    Thanks – that’s a good idea which I’ll follow up.

  4. Anonymous says:

    In my early days at BBC News (1980) I worked with colleagues who were due to retire and had worked at Ally Pally – News was the last bit of the BBC to leave there. I will circulate it wherever I can among old colleagues.

    You could try to get Greg Dyke on board – especially to get media interest.

  5. Steve Ostler says:

    Good to see you’re on the case Lynne.

    We do share your concerns. We’ll certainly be supporting your campaign on our site.

    We want to see television come back to Alexandra Palace and took part in the recent event there on November 2nd, celebrating television’s 70th anniversary. More at http://www.405-line.tv

  6. Peter Carlton says:

    This is a copy of the message I sent to the Charity Commission:

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I am writing to you regarding the original BBC television studios at Alexandra Palace.

    As you may well know Alexandra Palace is about to pass in to the hands of developers and, as the building is only Grade II listed this does mean that the building can essentially be gutted and only the facade preserved.

    Alexandra Palace is hugely important, not just in British history, but in world-wide history. 70 years ago the BBC started the world’s first regular high definition television service from Alexandra Palace, and it is by some miracle that, just over 70 years later, those original television studios and associated areas still survive.

    It is true that they have been neglected since the BBC left in 1981, but I was able to access Alexandra Palace last June and take a comprehensive video and photographic record of the entire area, including both television studios, the associated control rooms and the other areas associated with television, such as the make-up rooms and the main corridor. Even the original 1936 lift still survives and is operational.

    Studio A is in reasonably good condition and has a very good display of television sets and items related to the history of television at Alexandra Palace, and so many features still survive, the original studio doors complete with their portholes, art deco 1930′s lighting and so much more. If you would like me to send you a copy of the pictures and the video footage that I took at Alexandra Palace last year I would be very pleased to do so. I did write an article for the British Vintage Wireless Society, of which I am a member, to highlight the importance of Alexandra Palace and the current conditions there.

    I just want to ask that something please be done, before it is too late, to ensure that the original television studios at Alexandra Palace are preserved for future generations. It is some miracle that the studios have survived these 70+ years, these are the oldest television studios in the entire world, and their historical importance is hugely important, to lose them now, after having survived all of these years, would be criminal. As things currently stand they could be restored and made in to a museum which could also be used for various heritage television activities, but if they are allowed to be destroyed they can never again be recovered, a reconstruction would never be the same as preserving the original studios.

    I do hope that some action will be taken to ensure their survival for future generations and to allow people to be able to see where television, which is now part of most people’s lives every day, actually started.

    Yours faithfully,

    Peter Carlton.

  7. Mash says:

    COME ON FIROZ KASSAM- WE THE (LOCAL COMMUNITY) SUPPORT YOUR PROPOSAL- YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY SPOT ON, IF THE BBC CARE ABOUT THE STUDIO- WHY DON’T THEY THROW MONEY AT IT, WHY WASTE YOUR MONEY TO PRESERVE SOMETHING THAT WON’T BENEFIT ME AND ‘US’. I can assure you, we all support you….

    YOU ARE THE BEST

    YOUR SUPPORTER MASH

  8. Paul M says:

    I’m afraid that ‘MASH’ (stuck caps lock?) is missing the point completely. Alexandra Palace, the building and its grounds are a NATIONAL treasure, they’re not just for the local people. It was built by altrusitic Victorians for all the people as a north London ‘mirror’ of the Crystal Palace. Why should a business man with a dubious development record be allowed to take over this icon for 125 years?

    The studios and television connections are very important to me and also to many other folk both locally, nationally and internationally. However, it is the whole place that is really important and must be maintained in the spirit in which it was built. If Haringey Council can’t make it work then a ‘not for profit’ consortium of some sort should be formed that can. Handing it over to a commercial interest such as Firoka that will ultimately see a casino on the site has to be a very bad plan. I’m not against private finance initiatives, far from it, but not just by letting one questionable firm take over the whole thing. This would be a major mistake and the ‘locals’ that ‘MASH’ purports to represent would soon find themselves squeezed out.

    ‘MASH’, we the rest of the people of Britain have a stake and an interest in the future of ‘AP’ – it’s not just a big local sports hall!

  9. Anonymous says:

    I can’t believe that Firoz Kassam is being allowed anywhere near Alexandra Palace. Has nobody looked at his previous dealings with Oxford City Council regarding Oxford United’s Stadium complex? It is no co-incidence that during Kassam’s control the club suffered 3 relegations resulting in dropping out of The Football League at the end of the last season.
    I would be suprised if Alexandra Palace was still standing in 10 years time ubder Firoz Kassams control.

  10. scooter says:

    Be very carefull of Mr Kassam. Look at the history of what he has done to Oxford United. Took on a succesfull team, got planning permission on their back for a new stadium supported with multiplex, bowling alley, hotel, restaurants, bingo hall etc etc, sold the old ground at £6million profit after selling it to himself and once he had echieved his planning consents for the leisure park effectively ended any investment in the football club leading to it dropping out of the league.

    Planning obligations mean nothing to this man many years on he has still not installed the public works of art and he ignored parking restrictions imposed, to boost the value of the cinema and then just appealed any planning conditions he didn’t like whilst ignoring them anyway.

    Their is only one motivation for this man and that is profit, he is not a fit and proper person to be involved in preserving any heritage.

  11. Anonymous says:

    If Kassam does to Alexandra Palace what he did to us in Oxford then God help you. He will steamroller local authorities and will ignore any restrictions placed on him.
    This man’s sole interest in life is making money.
    You MUST stop him now before it’s too late.

    JH (Oxford

  12. Anonymous says:

    Dont be fooled by Kassam,he’s an asset stripper and that is all he is….you have been warned!!!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Glad others are knowledgeable
    about Kassam and about the value of preserving the BBC Studios and the value of the Palace. I hope there can be a suitable intervention before it is too late.

    AH

  14. Anonymous says:

    save it so kassam cant touch it! see how much he spends then.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I believe that the management of Ally Pally by Haringey Council has been an absolute disgrace, to have such a great asset, where is the arts cinema, the theatre, the art gallery, the heritage museum, the bars, jazz festival and cafes ? I would not be suprised if there were plans to turn it into a super casino. WHen Haringey council attempted outdoor cinema there one summer I realised how useless they were. It would have be so easy to get that right at Ally Pally but they still managed to mess it up. Also tarmac the seating space outside the pub, now that really in keeping with the architecture??!!! SO its not only the big decisions but the small ones as well. Thanks for trying to do something Lynne, you seem to have the local community at heart. Best wishes

  16. Anonymous says:

    Kassam was a disgrace and a disaster
    in the way he “ran” Oxford United FC
    treating supporters with nothing but contempt. He fails to comply with planning conditions and is a law unto himself.

    This man should NEVER be allowed anywhere near a national treaure like Alexandra Palace.He is an asset stripper.

  17. Anonymous says:

    To change the subject slightly.It might be of interest to know that the BBC not only pioneered the early days of tv there but it was also the very first place where the early tv news broadcasts began and it was also where the early foundation courses for the Open university were made.Thats surely of great importance aswell.Whats happened to the idea a couple of years back of turning the old BBC end of AP into some kind of media training centre for budding tv directors etc.Surely this would generate some kind of income into the building even if a museum would’nt.

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