156 High Street,
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The Pavilion Theatre of Varieties opened in 1888 with 900-seats. It was designed by the architectural firm Bucknall & Jennings on a triangular site. The stage end being at the apex, which originally had a circular tower feature. There were two square towers at the other two corners. The exterior is built in brick, with plenty of stone features.
The auditorium is up stairs at first floor level, leaving the ground floor to house shop units and offices. Inside the auditorium there are two balconies, which have open iron balaustrades, the upper balcony still retains its original bench seating. The main orchestra floor is now leveled for use as a dancefloor.
The building was re-named Empire Theatre in 1892, then became the Palace Theatre of Varieties in 1901. At this time stars such as Charlie Chaplin, Lilly Langtry, Marie Lloyd and Dan Leno appeared on stage. By 1908, films were being screened as part of the variety bill and by 1912 it was known as the Swansea Popular Picture Hall and Peoples Palace. By 1923 it had reverted back to live theatre again and took the name Palace Theatre of Varieties for a second time.
In 1932 it was wired for sound and gradually went over to full time cinema use. Renamed the New Palace Cinema by 1937, it became the Palace Cinema until around 1954 when it went back to live shows as the Palace Theatre. Sir Anthony Hopkins made his first professional stage appearance here in 1960. By the early 1960’s it became a bingo club, then by the 1970’s a ‘private’ club. Closed in 1991 it then became a nightclub which has been through several ownerships, closing in 2006. The building was ‘For Sale’ in July 2007. On 8th September 2019 the vacant building suffered damage in an arson attack. A few days later it was announced that Swansea City Council were hoping to purchase the building from the owner who lives in Kent. If plans go ahead, it will be converted into community office space and retail space within the building and the exterior would be restored. Costing is put at £5million.
The Palace Theatre is a Grade II listed building.
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