Palace Electric Theatre

Oldbury Road,
Tewkesbury, GL20 5NY

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Picture Palace, Shakespeare Shenton's Picture Palace Playhouse

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In the historic market town of Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, Shakespeare Shenton’s brief occupation of the Philharmonic Hall (see separate Cinema Treasures entry) had shown him that a permanent cinema was a viable proposition.

He found his premises in a back street off ‘the Oldbury’ in the shape of the burnt-out shell of Messrs. Walker & Son’s engineering works. (They built fairground roundabouts and, in another nod to the town’s entertainment history, this was the site of the old Tewkesbury Theatre, where Mrs Sarah Siddons had performed.)

Despite the works being roofless since 1908, within a few weeks this derelict eyesore had been transformed into The Picture Palace, which opened in 1912.

The Picture Palace closed for a few weeks in 1914, re-opening with the rather cumbersome name of Shakespeare Shenton’s Picture Palace Playhouse. Despite the inferences in the name, it only presented film shows.

From the early-1920’s that name was replaced by the rather more manageable Palace Electric Theatre.

Sadly, on 6th December 1932, fire once again ravaged the building. Shakespeare Shenton had locked up for the night at 10pm but, just half an hour later, a man cycling by saw flames leaping from the upper front windows. The damage was considerable, and included the loss of the films that had been shown that evening: “Too Young to Marry”, starring Loretta Young and Grant Withers, and Richard Barthelmess and Mary Astor in the rather ironically titled “Adios”. Mr Shenton estimated the damage at £10,000; the building was said to be insured but, for whatever reason, he decided against a re-build.

The derelict building lay silent and shuttered for over thirty years, before being demolished to make way for a fire station, now Tewkesbury Community Fire Station.

Contributed by David Simpson
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