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People's Palace


Inspired by Sir Walter Besant's novel 'All Sorts and Conditions of Men', the People's Palace for the recreation, amusement and education of the people of the East End of London was built over a period of years from 1886, its official opening by Queen Victoria in 1887. The project, which included a technical school, swimming baths, winter gardens, gymnasium and lecture rooms was never financially secure and, by 1956, the entire complex had been sold to Queen Mary College, the educational wing of the venture, which by this time was a college of the University of London. There is now an extensive Mile End campus and all that remains of the original buildings is the neo-classical entrance block and its forecourt with a free-standing clock tower.

The Queen's Hall & Music (i.e. minor) Hall of the People's Palace also survived within this building until it was destroyed by fire in 1931. Its successor, opening in 1937 as the New People's Palace, was on a new site and is subject of a separate record entry (q.v. 3656).

The original Queen's Hall, described by a modern commentator as 'preposterous' was a massive barrel-vaulted, extravagantly decorated room. Both it and the smaller Music Hall (so called because it was a hall for music, i.e. a concert hall) sat behind the neo-classical entrance block which still remains on Mile End Road.

Built / Converted
Dates of use
  • 1887 - 1931
Current state
Current use
Converted to other use (destroyed by fire 1931, entrance block remains)
Mile End Road, London, Tower Hamlets, E1 4NS, England
Further details
Other names
Queen's Hall & Music Hall (parts of the People's Palace) , Great Hall & Stern Hall (part of Queen Mary & Westfield College) , Queen's Building
  • 1884 Owner/Management: Trustees of the New Philosophic Institute (later with the Drapers’ Company)
  • 1887 Owner/Management: Governors of the People’s Palace
  • 1887 - 1892 Design/Construction: as The People’s Palace, completed in stages.
    E R Robson
    - Architect
  • 1887 - 1931 Use:
  • 1911 Owner/Management: Palace Committee of the People’s Palace
  • 1931 Alteration: destroyed by fire.
  • 1936 - 1948 Alteration: various alterations and additions made to the Palace complex
  • Capacity
    Queen's Hall, in 1936
  • Listing
Stage type
1936: Proscenium
Building dimensions: -
Stage dimensions: -
Proscenium width: -
Height to grid: -
Inside proscenium: -
Orchestra pit: -