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Palace Cinema, including Theatre Bistro, Pearl of Conwy and Jensens hairdressers

A Grade II Listed Building in Conwy, Conwy

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.2816 / 53°16'53"N

Longitude: -3.829 / 3°49'44"W

OS Eastings: 278152

OS Northings: 377628

OS Grid: SH781776

Mapcode National: GBR 1ZPH.TC

Mapcode Global: WH654.4SX4

Entry Name: Palace Cinema, including Theatre Bistro, Pearl of Conwy and Jensens hairdressers

Listing Date: 30 December 2005

Last Amended: 22 September 2016

Grade: II

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 87450

Location: A prominent building fronting the street near the junction with Llewelyn Street.

County: Conwy

Town: Conwy

Community: Conwy

Community: Conwy

Locality: Walled town

Built-Up Area: Conwy

Traditional County: Caernarfonshire

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Conwy

History

Dated 1935 and by Sidney Colwyn Foulkes, architect of Colwyn Bay. When opened the cinema was declared as ‘Cinema of the Year’ for 1936 with a design award for S. Colwyn Foulkes.

Lighting installed by the Holophane Company utilising the architecture of the interior. Silver columns to each side of the proscenium and silver bands on the front of the auditorium reflected and maximised the colour and spread of the lighting. These have since been overpainted. The Holophane lighting equipment was housed in two compartments above the balcony, along the front edge of the balcony and to either side of the proscenium arch. It was controlled from switch panels and dimmer units located backstage. The equipment would have provided contrasting colourful lighting throughout the interior, reflecting from the various curved surfaces.

Foulkes also designed the Plaza (1931) and Regal cinemas in Rhyl (1937), the Plaza in Flint (1938) and the Regal in Birkenhead (1938) and both were also equipped with Holophane lighting systems. Both Regal cinemas have been demolished. Continued in cinema use until the 1980’s and in bingo hall use from then. Vacant at inspection October 2014.

Exterior

Art-Deco and modern-influenced cinema and shops, with medieval references such as arrow loops, crow-stepping and shouldered lintels that acknowledge its presence in an ancient walled town. It comprises 2½-storey entrance range, behind which is the main auditorium block. The entrance range is of snecked sandstone with tooled quoins and dressings, with a steep slate roof behind a freestone parapet and high crow-stepped gables, incorporating finial to the L and stone stack to the R. The main entrance and flanking shops are slightly recessed beneath a projecting fascia, and have pale ashlar walls. The deep recess to the main entrance has a terrazzo floor and 2 pairs of glazed double doors. The modernist-influenced shops form a reflected pair and have plate-glass windows in thin bronze frames, and doorways to the inner side which have small-pane glazing over lower fluted panels, all beneath plain repainted fascias. At the outer ends of the front are further doorways in moulded surrounds, both with terrazzo floors to recessed double-doors incorporating linenfold panelling and frosted-glass panels. The L-hand also has an iron gate, and on the R side of the recess are stone steps to the 1st floor. Above the L-hand doorway is a castle in relief (the Conwy borough seal) and above the R-hand window is a roundel framing a cast iron bearded head.

In the upper storey are 5 lights in the centre flanked by 3 lights, each narrow with flattened angular heads. Above them, below the parapet, are corresponding short loops. A very narrow tall round-headed window is on the L side. Hipped roof dormers are grouped 2 3 2 in line with 1st-floor windows, mainly with 2-light casements, although the L-hand is no longer glazed and is boarded up. A rainwater head on the R side, now part of No 6, is dated 1935.

The L gable end is rubble stone, with crow-stepping. It has a very tall and narrow window under a shouldered lintel, in a tooled stone surround. It has an exuberant cast-iron grille of a tree with squirrels and geese. On its R side is a re-set tablet inscribed 'RE 1749' but part defaced by adding the number 5 and 6 either side of the 9. Set back to the L is an added rubble-stone wall linking the entrance range with the large rear rectangular auditorium, which has a stepped roof line but roof concealed behind coped parapets.

Interior

Interior survives largely intact with entrance lobby and offices, leading to main auditorium with proscenium arch and balcony. Some alterations from conversion into bingo hall with seating removed in the auditorium and replaced with bingo tables.

Proscenium opening with rounded columns to the side with curved band above, decorated with applied bas relief: in the centre a clock and to either side film reels, stars such as Mickey Mouse and Shirley Temple and other characters. Balcony with original seating. Further bas relief showing cinematic genres from love stories to westerns to the rearward arch above the balcony, and to the sloping ceiling above.

Reasons for Listing

Listed for its special architectural interest as a prominent cinema of strong architectural character by one of the foremost N Wales architects of the mid C20, with a well-preserved and boldly detailed exterior. It is also important for retaining a largely unaltered interior which includes important original fittings and lighting system, one of the most complete examples of a Holophane installation known to survive from the 1930’s. As a large and conspicuous building it makes an important contribution to the historical townscape.

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