Palace Theatre

121-123 Union Street,
Plymouth, PL1

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Additional Info

Architects: William Arbour

Firms: Wimperis & Arbour

Styles: Art Nouveau, French Renaissance

Previous Names: New Palace Theatre of Varieties

Nearby Theaters

Palace Theatre

The New Palace Theatre of Varieties was opened on 5th September 1898. It was built as a music hall for the Livermore Bothers. In the early days, films were presented as part of the variety programme. The building was designed in a Flemish Renaissance style, with the interior in an Art Nouveau style, with nautical features. Seating was provided for 339 in the orchestra stalls, 307 in the pit stalls, 214 in the dress circle, 148 in the rear circle and 400 in the gallery, with four stage boxes on each side of the 30 feet wide proscenium and the stage 28 feet deep. There were ten dressing rooms, and the orchestra pit could accommodate 14 musicians. The theatre was badly damaged by a fire on 23rd December 1898, just over three months after opening. It was refurbished and reopened on 22nd May 1899, with a much simpler decorative scheme.

The Palace Theatre thrived for many years, presenting variety, plays, opera, circus and pantomimes. It was closed in the mid-1950’s. In 1961, it was converted into a bingo club. Refurbished and re-opened as a live theatre in 1978, this was a short lived venture, closing in 1983. The building was then converted into a nightclub, known as the Dance Academy. In recent years this has closed and the building is now in a state of disrepair.

The Palace Theatre is designated by English Heritage as a Grade II Listed building.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

CSWalczak on July 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm

There is additional theatre history here and here, if one scrolls down about half-way.

Ian on August 6, 2012 at 4:03 am

1991 photo of ornate interior here:–


Mike_Blakemore on April 27, 2013 at 10:45 am

I have found an early picture of the interior

RickB on January 22, 2014 at 7:17 pm

Photographer decides to use Palace for photo shoot; she and model find themselves locked in after workmen leave. The fire brigade saves the day. Plymouth Herald story here.

From the context of the story it would seem that the cinema is under renovation, but details are lacking.

Alastair_Doyle on January 29, 2014 at 6:18 pm

Hi Mike Blakemore, you might remember me. We sold you, and installed the motorised Halls screen for you at The Savoy. I am involved with the restoration committee for The Palace Theatre. Do you have the original of this image, or merely came across it? More importantly do you (or anyone else reading this have possibly unseen images of this theatre? We are extremely keen to gather as much information as possible to help with the restoration). It would be good to hear from you again,please feel free to contact me. All my contact details on on our website

Flyman on February 26, 2015 at 3:54 pm

Ian’s photo of the boxes is interesting. You can’t see the join! The boxes at upper circle level were added in 1983 as part of the nightclub conversion. I don’t know if they were part of the original 1898 design lost in the fire and not re-instated, but the main photo of the auditorium on this page shows empty spaces at the front of the upper circle, between the slips and the prosc arch. A couple of years ago I saw a photo of the fly rail, still numbered for the last stage show, Cinderella 1982-3. I have the fly plot for that show. Sadly I didn’t take any photos of the interior before it closed.

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