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The Palace Theatre opened on 7th May 1934 with Bing Crosby in “College Humour”. It incorporates part of the earlier (19th Century) Corn Exchange building which was adapted into the Exchange Hall Picture Hall on 13th February 1915. The architect was James Brodie, from Pudsey, Leeds with interior decoration by Messrs Dodsworth Ltd. and marble and terrazo flooring by John Cooke & Son (Huddersfield) Ltd. The main contractor for the cinema was W Birch & Son Ltd. of York.
It was a very unusual design as the entrance foyer (through the 19th century facade) backed onto the rear stage wall (there was a full fly tower for this cine-variety house). To the left there was entry to the the auditorium which had a wide aisle at both stalls and circle level on one side only. The scene dock doors were at the rear of the auditorium – hence the need for the wide aisle at stalls level – as Yorkersgate at the front is a busy road unsuitable for unloading. Why the stage was not sited more conventionally at the rear is a mystery. The Corn Exchange facade was fitted with some still surviving Art Deco style stained glass windows.
In 1987 the Palace closed for conversion to a smaller cinema in the circle, now accessed from the rear exit – but which still contains Art Deco plasterwork – whilst the stage and stalls were converted into a shopping mall using the main Yorkersgate entrance. The original circle entrance is retained as an emergency exit along the long aisle connecting the circle to the stage wall.
Closed in 1998, the Palace (and Mall) lay empty until 2002 when on July 11th, the cinema reopened with a charity screening of "Casablanca" with "Star Wars – Attack of the Clones" from the following day.
The cinema has been totally refurbished and redecorated and functions as a full time cinema. There is the possibility that conference and bingo use could be introduced during the day – without interupting the film programming.
This is an exceptionally good place to see a movie. Three rows (out of a total of seven) of pullman seats have some of the best legroom in the UK, the sound (Dolby) excellent, the decor superb and there is a real sense of occasion as the house tabs open followed by the rising festoon behind to reveal the large screen.
In 2006, the screen in the former circle was divided and there are now two screens operating.
The Palace Cinema is a Grade II Listed building.
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