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02 October 2013
The role Alexandra Palace played as a prison camp during the First World War is set to be revealed through a new film and mobile app.
The media showcase, set to be created by media experts from Middlesex University, will include paintings, photos, videos and the prisoners’ words to tell the stories of the 3,000 civilian men who were imprisoned at the ‘People’s Palace’ from 1915 to 1919 when it was used as an internment camp.
The app will allow smart phone users to explore the site and experience the story of Alexandra Palace at the time of the First World War. Participants will encounter some of the stories and experiences of the internees as they explore the historically significant areas around the Palace.
Alexandra Park and Palace Charitable Trust has, in partnership with Middlesex University, won a £59,400 Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant to make the £100,000 project possible.
The film and app are based on the 2011 book 'Ally Pally Prison Camp' by Middlesex University’s Dr Maggie Butt. The book, published by Oversteps Books, features paintings by one of the prisoners, black and white photographs, poignant extracts from letters and memoirs written by the men, and poems by Maggie Butt.
Dr Maggie Butt said: “Alexandra Palace was a civilian internment camp throughout the First World War. Most of the prisoners had English wives and children and owned businesses in Britain - it was only their passports made them ‘enemy aliens’.
“When researching my book I uncovered letters and memoirs by these men, together with original photographs and paintings by the artist George Kenner, who was one of the prisoners. I am delighted that we are able to bring these experiences to life through this project.”
Dr Maggie Butt is an ex journalist and producer of historical documentaries for BBC television. She is also a poet with four published collections. She has held a number of roles at Middlesex University including Head of the Media Department and Deputy Dean of Art and Design. She is now Associate Director for Academic Partnership Development.