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Firms: Owen & Ward
Previous Names: New Palace Theatre, Palace Theatre of Varieties, Studio Cinema, Studio 1-2
First an arcade and adjoining shops was built in 1902, designed by architect W.P. Gibbings. Then in 1905, the Palace Theatre was built behind the arcade, using the arcade as an entrance. It was opened in early-1906, and was operated by Barrow in Furness theatre owner Signor Rino Pepi, who initiated films as part of the variety programme, projected on the ‘Pepiscope’. Seating was provided in pit, circle and gallery levels, with boxes on each side of the 30 feet wide proscenium. Pepi left the Palace Theatre in 1908 and in 1909, it became part of the MacNaghten Vaudeville Circuit, re-opening as the New Palace Theatre on Bank Holiday Monday, 1909.
It operated on cine-variety until 1914, with films supplied by the Gaumont Company. After 1914 it staged live performances only. In June 1932, the building was altered to become a full time cinema. The original interior was stripped out and new plainer style of decoration was built, and it re-opened in 1933. By 1950, it was also boasting a cafe, for the convenienience of its patrons.
The MacNaghten Vaudeville Circuit closed the Palace Theatre in 1957, and it was operated by an independent until 30th March 1960, when the Leeds based Star Cinemas chain took over and it was re-named Studio Cinema. By July 1970 it had been twinned with seating for 576 and 350. It was soon afterwards, that it was sub-divided into a four screen cinema, known as Studios 1-4, with seating now given as 336, 238, 109 and 114.
Star Cinemas were taken over by the Cannon Group in 1985, and the Studios 1-4 carried on until 1st March 1987 when it was closed. The building was converted into a United Services Club which had closed by 1999. The building was boarded up. In 2005, the imposing arcade building survives, and forms the entrance to an open-air car park and a block of flats which have been built on the site of the theatre, which was demolished around 2004.
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