The Palace Theatre, situated on the Walthamstow High Street in London, was opened on Monday the 28th of December 1903 with a production of 'Jail Birds' by the Fred Karno Company. The Theatre was designed by the well known Theatre Architects Wylson and Long, and operated by the Chelsea Palace Syndicate, the same Company who built and ran the Palace Theatre, Tottenham, the Chelsea Palace, and the Palace Theatre in East Ham, all also designed by Wylson and Long.
The Building News and Engineering Journal reported briefly on the new Theatre in their 25th of December 1903 edition saying:- 'The Palace Theatre will be opened on Monday next. The architects are Messrs. Wylson and Long, who have designed a building in the English Renaissance style, the imposing elevation having at either end a bold tower finished with stone and metal turrets, supporting flag standards. Under an iron and glass awning the main entrance opens into a spacious vestibule, which has a high dado of Austrian oak, with plastic decorations above, and a panelled and decorated ceiling. In front is a handsome box-office in polished walnut wood, to the right an archway, giving admittance to the stalls corridor, and on the left a broad staircase, the steps formed in mosaic and the walls of marble, leading to the balcony circle. The ground floor is divided into stalls and pit. Over the balcony, in which there are eleven rows, is a spacious gallery. The theatre being constructed on the cantilever system, an uninterrupted view of the stage is secured from every part of the house.' - The Building News and Engineering Journal, 25th of December 1903.
The Stage Newspaper also reported on the imminent opening of the Walthamstow Palace, and in greater detail, in their 24th of December 1903 edition saying:- 'A large and representative company of ladies and gentlemen interested in the music-hall stage assembled at this latest addition to the numerous "palaces" of Greater London on Monday afternoon, in response to the invitation of Mr. G. Adney Payne and his follow-directors, the object being a private view of the new building.
The Walthamstow Palace has been erected in High Street, and is a decided architectural ornament to the town. The building has been designed by Messrs. Wylson and Long, of King William Street, E.C. The front is in the English Renaissance style, the materials being red brick and Bath stone. Terminating the building at either end are bold towers, finished with stone and metal turrets, supporting flag standards. An iron and glass awning is fitted over the main entrance doors, passing through which the vestibule is reached. The vestibule has a high dado of Austrian oak, with plastic decorations above, and a panelled and decorated ceiling. On the right-hand wall is a marble tablet fixed to commemorate the completion of the building. The inscription, in gold letters is as follows:-
In the centre of the vestibule and opposite the entrance-doors is a handsome box-office, in polished walnut wood, and on the right of this box-office is an archway leading to the stalls corridor, while on the left is a spacious staircase leading to the balcony circle. The steps are formed in mosaic (Diespeker's patent), with ornamental borders worked in the material. The balustrade is in Austrian oak, with bold newels and balusters, and the plinths, skirtings, and dado are of marble. Messrs: Warmsley and Co. are responsible for the oak work, while the marble has been executed by Messrs. Fenning and Co. At the top of this staircase is the entrance to the balcony. Here the appearance of roominess and comfort of the eleven rows of rich crimson velvet seats (by Mr. J. S. Lyon), the ample gang-ways, and the graceful curve of the balcony front, is very striking and effective. At the rear of the back gangway is a spacious foyer, where tea, coffee, and other light refreshments are obtained. The ground floor of the building is divided into stalls and pit; while above the balcony is a large gallery. On either side of the proscenium are two private boxes, one over the other, reached respectively from the Stalls and balcony levels. The Theatre is constructed on the principle known as the cantilever system, carried out by Messrs. Hawkins and Baxter, whereby all columns inside the auditorium are avoided, thus securing an uninterrupted view of the stage from every part of the house.
The scheme of decoration for the interior is English Renaissance, the colouring being cream and white, relieved with gold, executed by Messrs. Bookbinder and Son. The hangings and draperies by the well-known firm of James Schoolbred and Co., are in rich crimson velvet, forming a strong relief to the general, tone of the decorations.
A sun-burner is fixed in the centre of the ceiling and gracefully designed electric pendants, supplied by the General Electric Light Company, serve to illuminate the auditorium. Gas lighting is also provided throughout in every case as a duplicate service. Ample exits from every part of the house are provided, and in case of necessity the building could be emptied in the short space of two minutes.
Special attention has been given to the heating and ventilating of the auditorium, so that the temperature at all seasons of the year is equable and pleasant. The heating has been carried out by Messrs. Strode and Co., and the ventilation by Messrs. Wheeler and Sons. The Electrical Name and Numerical Sign Company have fixed one of their indicating signs to make the various turns.
The stage has received careful and thorough consideration. It is commodious, well proportioned, and fitted with all necessary details for expeditious working. Here is the electric light board, with its numerous switches and levers, whence is controlled the whole of the lighting of the auditorium and the scenic effects of this stage. The whole, of this work has been carried out by Messrs. Leo Sunderland and Co.
The stage is separated from the auditorium by a fire-resisting curtain worked both by hand and by an electric motor. It is also provided with a duplicate gear for lowering in case of need. This gear is fixed close to the stage door, so that it can be operated by any person off the stage. This curtain is also provided with a sprinkler installation, which, in case of fire, would discharge volumes of water on to the stage. The curtain and gearing have been executed by Messrs. E and E. Taylor. Separated from the stage by a fire-resisting door is the dressing-room block, fitted with all things necessary. The proscenium opening is fitted with a beautifully-designed and painted act-drop, by Cecil Hicks.
The entertainment at the Walthamstow Palace - which, by-the-way, opens on Monday next - will be given on the "two houses-a-night " system, which has already been found to work so satisfactorily at the other halls under the same directorate. The managing director is Mr. G. Adney Payne, and Mr. Arthur J. Barclay has been appointed total manager.
At the private view on Monday there was little attempt at the making of set speeches, the visitors being more anxious to examine the building. Mr. Longman, however, in declaring the memorial tablet above referred to well and truly laid, made a few spirited remarks in wishing the enterprise every success, and Mr. Payne replied in a few felicitous words of welcome and thanks. The company were afterwards entertained on the stage.
The acoustic properties of the building were agreeably tested by two gentlemen, who sang a few duets with great effect. It should be mentioned that the orchestra will be led by Mr. Peterson, and the stage-manager is Mr. J. Grant. Mr. Slater, late of the Canterbury, is the acting-manager. The entire scenery, which is extremely picturesque and effective, is from the brush of Mr. Francis H. Bull. A handsome act-drop has been supplied by Mr. Hicks. Under its experienced directorate the new Palace of Varieties should have a most prosperous future.'
The Walthamstow Palace opened on Monday the 28th of December 1903, and, fitted with a bioscope box, it was screening early films as part of its variety programing from the start.
In 1952 the Theatre was taken over by Countess de la Marr who then operated the Theatre as a Playhouse, opening with a production of Agatha Christies 'The Hollow' by the Savoy Players. The Theatre then continued as a Playhouse for a few years until its eventual closure on the 20th of February 1954.
Sadly the Theatre was then left vacant for many years, falling into a state of dereliction until it was finally demolished in 1960. A Parade of shops and flats called Palace Parade was then constructed on the site.
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