The Palace Theatre of Varieties, Percy Street and Haymarket, Newcastle
Formerly - The People's Palace
Also see Donald Auty's 'Reminiscences of working Newcastle's Palace Theatre in the 1950s'
Above - The Palace Theatre, Newcastle which was built in 1895 - Courtesy Gareth Price.
The Palace Theatre opened on Monday the 23rd of December 1895 with Thomas Barrasford as its Manager. The Theatre, which was designed by the Newcastle architect J. W. Taylor, was a reconstruction of the former People's Palace which had been open since at least 1889 and run by Horace Livermore. The new palace Theatre had an auditorium built on three levels, stalls and pit, and two circles, along with four boxes and accommodation for what was stated in the ERA of the time to have been between 3,000 and 4,000 people.
Right - The Site of The Palace Theatre, Haymarket in 2003 - Courtesy Gareth Price.
The ERA carried a report on the new Theatre shortly after it opened in their 28th of December 1895 edition saying:- 'On Monday this theatre of varieties was opened to the public. The old People's Palace, situated in the Haymarket, was acquired by a commercial firm for an extension of their premises on the expiration of Messrs Livermore's lease; but a local syndicate having subsequently secured the property, the present commodious hall was built.
The changes that have taken place within the past eight weeks in the old barnlike hall say much for the activity of contractor and management. The interior was completely gutted, and the auditorium arranged on quite a new basis. The architect is Mr J. W. Taylor, F.R.I.R., of Newcastle. The floor is on a graduated slope, and provides ample accommodation for orchestra, stalls, and some eighteen benches in the pit. The stalls are fitted with " tip-up " seats, richly upholstered in dark crimson plush, with gold embellishments. Above, a couple of commodious circles have been built. The first of these has been divided into three parts. The centre portion is seated similarly to the stalls, and the side portions are comfortably upholstered with the same materials. The upper circle or gallery is reached by an easy ascent, provides accommodation for a large number of people, and is capable of further extension. There are four handsomely furnished private boxes alongside the proscenium. The decorations are chaste and neat in design, the prevailing tones being cream and gold, with slight touches of pale blue. A great point in the reconstruction is that there is not a single seat in front from which a full view of the stage cannot be had. The theatre is lighted 'with electricity, and accommodates between 3,000 and 4,000 persons.
The stage covers a large area, and is adequate to almost any production, and the dressing-rooms provide amply for the comfort of the artists. The scenery has been painted by Mr Chas. Wood. and Mr Thomas Barrasford has been appointed manager. At a private view which was given on Saturday, Alderman H. W. Newton, J.P., said "that they had assembled under circumstances extremely gratifying. They all liked old friends and old associations, and when their old friends could arise before them in such an agreeable manner as the Palace had done, they were immensely pleased and satisfied. Several members of the council and Bench had examined the building from floor to ceiling, and were extremely pleased with everything that they had seen. The transformation of the house, and the means of exit and entrance were everything that could be required." Mr Newton moved a hearty vote of thanks to the directors. Councillor J. C. Laird, J.P., also spoke. Mr Barrasford (manager) thanked those present on behalf of the company for their attendance and vote of thanks. The new company would do their best to provide excellent entertainment.'
The Palace Theatre opened on Monday the 23rd of December 1895 but by 1903 it was deemed to be in need of alteration and redecoration. The Building News and Engineering Journal reported on this in their 4th of September 1903 edition saying:- 'The Palace Theatre in the Haymarket was reopened on Monday after redecoration and extensive structural alterations. The scheme has been carried out from the designs of Mr. J. Walton Taylor, F.R.I.B.A., St. John-street, Newcastle, and it has been superintended by Mr. P. R. Donald, from the architect's office.
In the main entrance from the Haymarket the new stairs are of marble, the dadoes are of panelled mahogany, the embossed paper harmonises with the decorative fibrous plaster design on the ceiling, a feature of which is the finely-painted panel in the centre. Clusters of electric lights have been provided. In the spacious vestibule the same scheme of decoration is carried out heavy mahogany panelling, fibrous ceilings with painted panels, a decorated pay-office, mirrors, gold-inlaid cornices, and heavy carpets. The paintings in the ceiling panels represent the Muses, and have been carried out by Mr. Miller. The stairs and passages to the circle have been similarly treated.
The interior of the theatre has been entirely redecorated and refurnished. The general scheme of colours is cream and gold. Additional stalls have been provided. The gallery has been rearranged and furnished with another exit. Ventilation has been improved by a new electric fan, and fresh fire hydrants have been fitted.
The constructional work and mahogany fittings have been done by Mr. F. J. Hepple, Dunn-street, Newcastle; the ornamental copper grill is by Messrs. Hardman, Powell, and Co., of Birmingham; the brass and copper handrail in entrance, marble stairs, and fire hydrants by Messrs. Emley and Sons, Ltd.'
The above text in quotes was first published in the Building News and Engineering Journal, 4th of September 1903.
The Theatre reopened after the alterations on Monday the 31st of August 1903 and had quite a long life in this form, although sadly its facade was radically altered in the 1940s. Donald Auty worked at the Palace Theatre many times in the 1950s and has written an article for this site entitled Reminiscences of working Newcastle's Palace Theatre in the 1950s which you can read here.
The Palace Theatre closed in 1958 when the touring shows dried up and it was demolished in 1961. A row of unremarkable shops stand on the Theatre's site today (See image below).
If you have any more information or images for this Theatre you are willing to share please Contact me.
Above - A Google StreetView Image of the site of the former Palace Theatre, Percy Street and Haymarket, Newcastle - Click to Interact.
You may find the following pages from this site of interest: