Palace Cinema/Corn Market
Palace Cinema and former Corn Market
The building on the corner of Upper Market Street and Hill Street was built in the 1850s as The Corn Market. It is another example of architect William Owen’s properties, and demonstrates the importance of agriculture in the county.
By the early twentieth century, the building became used for other purposes and Sidney White, a businessman originally from Swansea with his partner James Lowe, purchased and altered the Corn Market, renaming it The Palace Cinema. The Palace opened in 1913 the first film being, ‘Zuma, Queen of the Gipsies.’
In March 1930 the first ‘talkies’ were shown in the Palace and to herald this momentous event a full page advert in the Western Telegraph was taken out announcing the ‘Grand Opening’ on the 24th March with two films; ‘On Trial’ starring Pauline Frederick and ‘The Singing Fool’ with Al Johnson. Prices were listed as 9 pence (that’s old pence of course, equivalent to 3 New Pence) and 1 shilling, with the balcony a bit more expensive at 1 shilling and 6 pence, or 2 shillings and 4 pence.
The automatic ticket machine used then is the same one that produces your ticket now and is (unsurprisingly) the oldest piece of machinery in the cinema.
Until 1957, when it relocated to Merlin’s Hill, the Fire Station was also located here, with the fire engines being squeezed into the several separate tiny quarters under the arches along Hill Street. With coal fires still being the predominant method of heating homes, the Brigade was often called out and if the sirens and bells sounded a call-out whilst a packed cinema was enjoying a film, (don’t forget that this was before mass television ownership), the entire audience would rush outside to watch the departure of the fire engines before filing back in to continue watching the film.
In February 2013, in time for the blockbuster film, ‘Lincoln’, the Palace Cinema went over to digital.
Continue to the end of Upper Market Street. Church Lane is on your left which would give you a further view of St Thomas Church if you wished, but on your right is...