Louise Stewart – November 2016

We know our members love a local speaker, and there’s nothing more local to The Alexandra WI than Alexandra Palace. Looming high on Muswell Hill, this landmark is close to the hearts of so many north Londoners: we named our WI after our beloved ‘Ally Pally’, and we meet in the former Alexandra Palace railway station. It’s no surprise we were keen to hear our November speaker, Chief Executive of Alexandra Park and Palace Charitable Trust, Louise Stewart, who spoke to us on the eve of the 80th anniversary of the world’s first regular high-definition public television broadcast which took place from the BBC studios at Alexandra Palace.

Louise spoke passionately about the very real challenges of running a charitable trust and its trading company. From clown cricket (those crazy Victorians, eh?) to more modern day concerns of rock concert noise levels and vandalism, the “people’s palace” has seen it all. Not surprisingly, keeping a major heritage asset afloat financially is the biggest concern for its trustees: we left wanting to do more to help this grand old palace, and in particular, the East Wing Restoration Project, which represents the biggest investment in the building for since the 1980s, aims to bring the historic BBC studios and wonderful theatre back to life. You can read more about the project here.

Want to read more? The Palace’s website timeline has some wonderful old images of the building and park and what went on in them: well worth a click!