Palace Theatre

30 Kirkgate,
Huddersfield, HD1 2QT

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Roland Satchwell

Viewing: Photo | Street View

This theatre was opened on Bank Holiday Monday, 1909, as a large music hall, designed by architectural firm Horsfall & Sons. It was part of the McNaghten Vaudeville Circuit, and occasionally showed films up to the end of the 1920’s. Gutted by fire in 1935, the Palace Theatre was rebuilt in the Art Deco style and a continuous programme of live variety shows. The rebuild in an Art Deco style by architect Roland Satchwell made conversion to a ‘super cinema’ easy, as it was equipped with a projection box, but never screened films due its success as a theatre with stars such as Gracie Fields, George Formby and Sandy Powell packing the house.

In fact, largely due to World War II, variety continued up to the late-1950’s. The Palace Theatre reopened as the Continental Music Hall in 1959, but this failed and it became a bingo hall in 1963. This continued up to 1997, with the interior of the building remaining miraculously intact.

After over ten years laying unused, in 1989 the building was converted to a Chicago Rock Cafe and later Shout nightclub. The stage was still used for live acts, with the circle and gallery partitioned off. It last use has been as a nightclub named Society, which was closed in late-2010 due to bad behavour of its customers.

However in 2008, plans were proposed to demolish the Palace Theatre to extend the Kingsgate Shopping Centre. These were turned down, but an appeal was launched and the plans for demolition were approved. If and when this happens, it is envisaged that the facade of the theatre will be retained.

Contributed by Phil Danielson

Recent comments (view all 41 comments)

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on December 27, 2011 at 1:14 pm

In Birmingham there was the same problem with the Alexandra Theatre.. The original Bars where an after thought. Satchwell and Roberts where noted for their fine Cinemas.. They Did Art Deco first in 1924…. I Think They could have been the first in UK..

curlew
curlew on January 6, 2012 at 6:23 am

Im sure you are right Mike about ‘bars’ issue. Mrs Ball tells me that she has seen the plans lodged at Huddersfield Central Library. The Palace and the Birmingham Alex appear to be the only actual ‘Theatre’s’ Roland Satchwell designed, the rest appear to be Cinemas.I suspect that certainly in the case of The Palace, he was commisioned to design it for easy conversion to a'super cinema' should a reopening with ‘variety’ fail. Interestingly Union Cinemas built the Ritz/ABC the following year and come world war 2 ‘variety’ revived itself which gave The Palace another 20 years as a live theatre. Also by 1947. Huddersfield had over 20 cinemas both in the town centre and provinces- quite a lot really. Perhaps as it turned out two massive cinemas were not required within the town centre. On the plans submitted for demolition by Halco. the Palace was also refered to as the Savoy Cinema. As far as im aware the Palace was open sporadically between 1954 and 1959 as a theatre and was converted to ‘The Continental Theatre ballroom in 1958/9. But I may be wrong of course! The interior of the Palace was by no means as elaborate as for example some of the 'Odeons’ built at the same time for example in Peterborough and Chester or the Plaza in Stockport This may well explain the failure of the listing application. The massive exception to me is the frontage which seems to be highly characteristic of Satchwells cinema designs with the tall stained glass windows. Under the present student apartment plans this is to be retained and restored. What is not to be retained is the fabulous art deco auditorim ceiling- infact its about the only bit of deco left. Hudds. Civic Society are objecting to the plans on a design matter- |I dont know if its on this issue. Mrs Ball tells me she has been in touch with Roland Satchwells grandson and he has all the origional plans. It might be worth contacting him to see if he has any of Rolands other sets of plans for the cinemas in the Midlands.

Producer
Producer on January 6, 2012 at 6:38 am

Interesting report Curlew.

I must question the suggestion that “…the tall stained glass windows. Under the present student apartment plans this is to be retained and restored.”

I am sure the tall windows are not of stained glass, but rather textured/patterned/obscured glass with exotic glazing bars. I also understand that in this proposal the windows will be entirely replaced,not retained nor restored.

I suggest the civic society will be supporting the application despite the loss of the ornate glazing.

curlew
curlew on January 6, 2012 at 7:16 am

I am sure you are right, I suspect ‘coloured glass'I remember in th 1970’s when the building was illuminated at night from the inside- as the bingo club- in the colours of the rainbow it was stunning!. Its a shame it will be lost, probably with the insertion of the new floors. Its a shame the auditorium ceiling cant be saved

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on August 3, 2012 at 12:55 pm

@ Curfew.. Interesting picture. Satchwell used the same design on the edge of the 2 Circles. on the Alexander Theatre Birmingham. It is beleived that Roland Satchwell (Satchwell & Roberts) designed the first Art Deco cinema in the country “Capitol Cinema Birmingham” Drawing where done in 1924" The Owwner of The alex Birmingham was Chairman of The Clifton Circuit and was a Big Panto Producer. Question can you find out of Salberg did the pantos at the Palace ??? Because it is odd for Satchwell to even thinks of designing this theatre. It is out of his area

curlew
curlew on August 3, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Mike, I recon you might be on to something here- have u an email or facebook address- really like to 1 to 1 with you- interesting that the palace burned down during the panto season in jan/feb 36. reopened easter 37. I have checked the design on the balcony at the alex , you are correct- Of course mcnagten vaudeville circuit who owned the palace would have had contacts all over the uk.

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on August 3, 2012 at 3:54 pm

I have now added a Picture of Roland Sacthwell the Architect Beleived to be first to design an Art Deco Cinema in the UK

Producer
Producer on September 7, 2012 at 10:32 am

Over the weekend of 7-8 September 2012 stage cloths and equipment recovered from the Palace Theatre are hanging and on show at the LBT in Huddersfield. Do go and see for FREE http://www.hoststudios.co.uk and http://hoststudios.co.uk/bm/venues/lawrence-batley-theatre-2.shtml

Producer
Producer on September 7, 2012 at 10:37 am

Apologies the dates above should read 8 to 9 September

Producer
Producer on September 7, 2012 at 10:46 am

Some photos of the cloths from the Palace hanging at the LBT for HOST weekend.

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