The People’s Palace on London’s Mile End Road - described by The Times as a “happy experiment in practical Socialism” - was designed to educate and entertain the people of the East End.
The original Queen’s Hall for concerts was opened by Queen Victoria in 1887. An octagonal library and glass-covered winter garden were added, plus a swimming pool, gymnasium and tennis courts. These proved hugely popular, although interest eventually declined. Most of the buildings were destroyed by fire in 1931.
Rebuilt and reopened in 1936, the new People’s Palace put on cultural events until 1954, when it was refurbished to create an imposing entrance for the Queen’s Building at Queen Mary College.
A series of mergers eventually transformed this into Queen Mary, University of London, where the archives now hold extensive material about the palace’s history. Much of this has recently been digitised.
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