430 London Road,
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Firms: Ward & Ward
Previous Names: Raymond's Palace Theatre, New Palace of Varieties, Palace Cinema
Located in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex (close to Southend-on-Sea). Opened on 21st October 1912 as Raymond’s Palace Theatre. It was built for and operated by Mr Raymond of the Raymond Picture Company, who operated 14 other cinemas and theatres. It was designed by architectural firm Ward & Ward of the Strand, London, and originally had a seating capacity for 1,500, in orchestra stalls, dress circle and balcony levels. There are also pairs of boxes at dress circle level which have onion-dome plasterwork canopies. The proscenium is 26 feet wide, and there are four dressing rooms.
On November 14, 1912 it was re-named New Palace of Varieties. In 1919 it was taken over by new owners with the view of converting it into a cinema, but the rake of the circle prevented a projection box being built at the rear. Instead, a projection box was built at the rear of the stage, enabling rear projection, and the Palace Theatre began screening films as the Palace Cinema. It operated as a full-time cinema from 1930 to 1932, and had some cinema use again in the late-1930’s.
Over the years has mainly been used as a live theatre, for repertory companies and ballet, as well as know name stars such as Ivor Novello, Sir Henry Irving and Sybil Thorndike appearing.
The Palace Theatre was renovated in the 1960’s, and in 1982 a 100-seat Dixon Studio Theatre was built adjacent to the main theatre. In 1987 the original theatre auditorium was refurbished to its original Edwardian splendour.
In 2010 the Palace Theatre began presenting films every month on Sundays. For these occasions, a temporary screen, projection and sound equipment is installed by volunteers. The Palace Theatre is operated by the Local Authority:Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and is a Grade II Listed building.
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