Lynne Featherstone, Lib Dem MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, has stepped in to take up the fight to save the world’s first television studios at Alexandra Palace. The proposed sale of a 125-year lease of the palace is putting the studios, the site of the world’s first public TV broadcasts, in jeopardy as Haringey Council confirmed recently that there is no long-term protection for the studios in the proposed 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.
Ms. Featherstone has tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament to raise awareness of the issue, and has written to the Culture Minister Tessa Jowell MP, the BBC Heritage Department and the Royal Television Society to ask assistance in saving the studios.
Ms. Featherstone comments: “The historic TV studios are a piece of history – not just for people who live near and love Alexandra Palace, but for our country, and indeed the world. The first ever public television broadcasts are a milestone that need to be commemorated, and I was shocked to discover that no thought has been given to the preservation of the original studios.
“As one of our Lib Dem councillors here said, providing only “a space for a museum” is like ‘preserving’ Stonehenge by demolishing it and putting up a fibre-glass replica. I sincerely hope that a solution can be found. The Labour council have spent a long time trying to push this sale through, and my concern is that since there is only now one potential buyer, important issues such as saving the studios might take second place to the rush to secure a quick sale.”
Note – text of Early Day Motion 2884:
ALEXANDRA PALACE AND THE BBC
That this House notes with concern the lack of provision for the protection of the original television studios at Alexandra Palace contained in the proposed lease for the sale of the palace by Haringey Council; recognises the heritage of the studios as the site of the world’s first public television broadcast and the birthplace of the BBC’s television service; believes that this heritage should be properly preserved and conserved, with sensitive re-use, as part of our national and international history; and urges the Government to take steps to ensure the continued existence of the original studios in any regeneration initiatives that might take place at Alexandra Palace.