Willmott Dixon is looking to inspire the next generation on its regeneration of Alexandra Palace.
“Now, this is where Muffin the Mule was filmed. Some of you will remember it, some of you won’t.”
Willmott Dixon senior building manager Tony Wright is talking us through some of the history of the former BBC studio at Alexandra Palace, during the launch event of Open Doors 2017.
His comment about Muffin the Mule lightens the mood, having just explained the efforts to remove large amounts of asbestos from the walls around us.
The former studio, known as the birthplace of television as it is where the BBC did its first broadcasts, is being renovated as part of a £25m regeneration project of the neglected east wing of North London’s famous ‘Ally Pally’.
Part of the space will be used as a BBC museum, while a Victorian theatre is also being restored, which will have a capacity of 1,300.
During the tour of the site, Tony explains the stage of the theatre once had 15 trap-doors, but assures us they are all sealed today.
Former footballer Jimmy Bullard, an ambassador for Open Doors this year, also joins the visit.
The tour was meant to include a bus load of students, but unfortunately they have not made it. In some ways this is a sad metaphor for the problem facing the industry.
Later I catch up with Tony about this issue. “Kids at school don’t really think about construction, they don’t see the variety. They are more interested in IT.”
It’s clear the industry still has a big job to do to attract young talent, but projects like the restoration of Alexandra Palace should inspire anyone who gets to see it.
Client: Alexandra Park and Palace
Main contractor: Willmott Dixon
Architect: Fielden Clegg Bradley
Contract type: JCT Design & Build 2011
Contract value: £25m
Start date (enabling works): January 2016
Completion date: Q2 2018