Swansea Palace

Occupying a triangular site with a 4-storey tower at the apex this attractive and charming theatre was in public use for over 100 years and now lies vacant.

Swansea palace detail
Address
156 High Street, Swansea, SA1 1NE
Risk Rating
7 (risk rating: 3, star rating: 2, community rating: 2)
Owner
Private owner
Architect
Bucknall & Jennings
Date of Construction
1888
Listing
Grade II

Significance

The charming Swansea Palace Theatre opened in 1888 as a music hall, Swansea Pavilion Theatre of Varieties. It is often compared, architecturally, for its similarity to the Flatiron building in New York, with its dramatic exterior on a triangular site. Despite later use as a cinema, bingo hall and nightclub the early form of the first floor auditorium is apparent. It is very intimate with two steeply raked balconies which curve round to the proscenium, now without boxes, and retains its original gallery seating.

Why is this theatre at risk?

Swansea Palace theatre closed as a nightclub in 2006 and had been in a dangerous state of disrepair both internally and externally, becoming increasingly water and plant growth-damaged. In 2015 Swansea Council made £75,000 available to the owner to carry out emergency repair work to the building, which was reportedly match-funded by the owner. Work is now complete and the building weathertight and vegetation free. The interior however remains damp from years of water ingress, and at risk.

Current situation

With the urgent works now complete and the building now weathertight, the owner has been in discussions with the council and Cadw regarding a business plan for the building. It is understood that this has concluded that re-opening the building for theatre use is unviable, but that any regeneration will provide an element of community use. It is thought that the main usage will be commercial. Theatres Trust is yet to see the report. The owner is currently in the process of setting up a Building Preservation Trust for the regeneration of the building. There is a desire to fully restore the external fabric to its former glory. Plans for the interior remain unknown and as such the theatre fabric still remains at risk. Local group Save The Palace Theatre continues to campaign to save the building.

Image: Swansea Palace, Rob Firman