Prince of Wales Theatre

82 St. Mary Street,
Cardiff, CF10 1FA

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Prince of Wales Theatre

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The 19th century theatre on the site was redesigned on at least two occasions. Following a fire in 1877 it was rebuilt to the designs of Waring Son and W.D. Blessey. In 1920 the interior was re-constructed to the designs of the architectural firm Willmott and Smith. It had a seating capacity of 1,000 and it was re-named the Playhouse Theatre, which closed in 1925.

Re-opened in 1927, alterations were carried out to the designs of architect William S. Wort. it was still named the Playhouse Theatre in the early-1930’s but was later re-named the Prince of Wales Theatre. It offered live theatre use until 1957 when film shows were introduced. At first the programmes were subtitled or "art" films then re-releases.
For a time in the early-1960’s popular films were shown and when most of the circuit cinemas were occupied with "road-shows" there were a few "first runs".

Most locals remember the Prince of Wales for the subsequent period when the programmes were exclusively ‘X certificate products from Soho, London. The cinema closed on 30th June 1984 with the double bill;“Alexandra, Queen of Sex” and “Boys and Girls Together”.

Bingo was tried for a time and then it was converted into Caesar’s Nightclub which didn’t last long and the building eventually closed. It suffered badly during further short-term uses as a bargain store and a laser-game venue.

The J.D.Wetherspoon pub company took over and re-opened it as one of their chain of pubs in July 1999. The company carried out a very sympathetic restoration which gives some idea of how the Theatre looked following the 1920 redecoration.

The building is Grade II Listed.

Contributed by Geoff

Recent comments (view all 18 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on April 19, 2009 at 11:23 am

Editha; It certainly was originally the Theatre Royal, as stated in the aka’s above the theatres name on this page.

geoffjc
geoffjc on April 19, 2009 at 12:05 pm

The Cardiff Library on-line catalogue will provide evidence from the directories of 1889-90, including a drawing which shows that the Wood Street frontage today contains much that dates from that period, either original or restored.
The interior was reconstructed a couple of times, Wetherspoon’s have pictures showing the interior at different times in the ground floor bar.

geoffjc
geoffjc on April 19, 2009 at 12:49 pm

It was a new-build in 1877, adjoining the Philharmonic Hall which was opened shortly before it.
The “Theatre Royal” that burnt down was an old building in what is now Park Place,the site of the Park Hall (qv) and Hotel, almost opposite the site of the New Theatre (1906)

Ian
Ian on October 10, 2010 at 9:17 am

A shot of the Prince of Wales Theatre, next to the Philharmonic Hall, here:–

http://www.flickr.com/photos/stagedoor/5066661745/

Michael Williams
Michael Williams on March 9, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Has nobody noticed that on the side wall of the outside of this building there is, picked out in stone, the outline of a church said to commeramate that this theatre was built on the site of St Marys Church.

Ian
Ian on March 9, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Apologies, the link posted on the 17 Aug 2007 is incorrect, here is the correct one, which I think shows the details mentioned in the previous post:–

http://www.flickr.com/photos/stagedoor/1150765601/

Jeffrey Morris
Jeffrey Morris on July 6, 2011 at 12:55 am

Although no longer a cinema or theatre this venue is now a popular Weterspoons pub. The chain has restored some of the glory once seen when entering the auditorium for film shows.

The former circle is in use for drinking and dining as is the stalls. The stage forms a second bar area and several private balcony boxes have been restored. It really is impressive and splendid and a showcase for the pub chain.

Lovers of old cinemas can sit with a pint for an hour or so and clearly see how splendid the auditorium would have been.

Eric Evans
Eric Evans on October 31, 2012 at 12:18 pm

I’ve uploaded a couple of pictures of this theatre, I was very keen to go inside as I once visited it when it was still a cinema. It was in 1962, my pal & I saw “Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea” I think it was then a second run picturehouse. I think the film starred Walter Pidgeon & Peter Lorre, then ageing stars.

Trickydicky52
Trickydicky52 on January 7, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Late to this party. Founfd the site whilst doing some family history reseach looking at The Prince of Wales Cardiff. Out of interest, my father (now long deceased) owned the Prince of Wales from the mid 1950s to about 1961. I was 9 then. We were Londoners and it would have been him that introduced the “art-house” period as he was French and spoke fluent Spanish and Italian too and had a film distribution business in London at the time. He employed local manager(s) and we made regular visits. I went a number of times as a kid. 2 highlights. Most vivid for me was meeting a pretty 12-year old Jane Asher, playing a Panto Alice (Through the Looking glass I think) in 1958 and presenting her with a huge box of chocs backstage after the show. I was 6! That would have been one of the last times the screen was raised to revert it to a full theatre use. In 1960 he put on The Alamo in the school holidays and that was a great success. I believe he sold his interest soon after that time. The cinema seems to have gone downhill after that, together with most of the old independents with the advent of TV and esp colour TV at the time.

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