Alexandra Palace has been through a lot over its 149-year history. Just 16 days after opening in 1873 the whole building was gutted by a huge fire (before being quickly rebuilt and reopened with – what else? – a massive fireworks display). It also survived another big blaze in 1980 that burnt large chunks of it to the ground. In between these flaming disasters, the ‘People’s Palace’ has also been used as a refugee centre and an internment camp during WWI, all the while working its way into London’s heart with its annual bonfire displays, roster of electrifying gigs and a whole load of whacky events from the World Darts Championship to Red Bull’s whacky races style soapbox run.
But now Ally Pally is facing taxing times again. As if we needed any more reasons to be bitter about the cost-of-living crisis, it looks like the UK’s crap economic situation is taking its toll on the finances of the Haringey landmark. Turns out massive Grade-II listed Victorian buildings are quite hard to heat and rapidly rising energy costs mean the price of keeping the drafty pile warm has surged.
A recent report from The Alexandra Park and Palace Charity Trust, seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, said costs to run the building have rocketed by 132 percent, largely due to soaring energy prices. It warned the building may run up an operating deficit of £1.1 million this year. A pretty terrifying figure that may even reach £2 million next year.
The venue has said it’s putting in cost-cutting measures and attempting to make the place greener and more energy efficient to help it through these bleak times. But it’s also asking for additional funding from Haringey Council in order to stay open.
What would London be without its offbeat fun palace joyfully looming over us from its high-altitude spot? Answer: a lot less fun. So, while you’re tucking into your turkey dinner this weekend, pray for a Christmas miracle for our beloved People’s Palace.
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