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15-17 Friars Gate, Warrington, WA1 2RR.
Opened Sep 1907. Closed 1964. Building still in use.
1 screen. 1,100 seats.
The New Palace Theatre & Hippodrome opened on 23 September 1907, and was part of the MacNaghten Vaudeville Circuit. The opening production featured John Tiller’s High Jinks Company. Films were shown as part of the programme during the early years.
Designed by architect George F. Ward, there were two balconies, a box on each side of the proscenium and Baroque style plasterwork. A proscenium, for those not in the know, is the part of a theatre stage in front of the curtain. It was converted into the Palace Cinema in early 1931, opening with Ben Lyon in “Hell’s Angels”. The upper balcony wasn’t used when it was a cinema. Entrance to the small projection room was through a door at the side of the building. It was a long climb to the box; you got to it via the upper balcony. A fire in 1954 damaged the circle and upper balcony levels, but repairs were made and it reopened as the New Palace Cinema. The author of these notes worked there as a young projectionist in 1964. The projectors were by Fedi, the sound by RCA and the carbon arcs were supplied by Peerless Magnarc. Chief projectionist was a Mr Joe Slevin. Closed in 1957 when the MacNaghten Vaudeville Circuit ceased operation, it remained closed for three years.
It was purchased by the Hutchinson circuit in 1960 and re-opened with Shirley Jones in Rogers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma” on 25 March 1961. The Palace Cinema closed on 7 November 1964 with the film “The Camp on Blood Island” starring Andre Morell.
It then became a Surewin bingo hall, operated by Hutchinson’s. Admission price of three shillings included the playing of ten games with no limit to winnings. And for only three shillings and fivepence you could enjoy a pack of 20 Park Drive cigarettes. From 1977 it was known as the Apollo Bingo and Social Club until it closed in 1997. After a few years of lying empty, it became Brannigans nightclub and then Showbar in 2009. In 2021, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Showbar closed down, but later in the year new management took over and it was relaunched as Trilogy.
Contributed by DAVID A ELLIS, Ken Roe. Additional information by Gordon Gandy.