What’s Wrong With Ally Pally?
I was reminded about Alexandra Palace while watching Clint Eastwood’s ‘Hereafter’ – Matt Damon wanders around a trade fair inside it looking lost.
As well he might. Most of us usually forget that the palace is even there. Which is odd, given that it’s such an astonishing building. It was built as a counterpart to the Crystal Palace in 1873, primarily as an exhibition space, but nobody ever seems to know what to do with it. Too big for some events, too small for others, it remains partly restored, partly derelict, perched on its hill in fading grandeur, sometimes hired privately, sometimes public, never very successful.
It can’t be used as a theatre company because of Health & Safety, and endless fights with Haringey Council have prevented its use as a casino, a cinema and an exhibition space. It seems to have a farmer’s market (not a good use of the space now that these are all over London anyway).
It’s nice enough for a walk, but when you get there, you just come back down. Thanks to continued lack of vision, Ally Pally remains gloriously, hopelessly nothing much at all except a lovely building with nobody strong enough to take charge of it. Most of the grander London buildings have escaped this fate, but the palace continues to be trapped in limbo.