Newark Palace Theatre 
 
Newark Palace Theatre
By NICOLA LONG
Newark's premier theatrical facility comes in the form of the Palace Theatre in Appletongate.
 
This impressive building has recently undergone external improvements including a new colour scheme and roof repairs.

Its stage attracts local and national stars, and the building is also used as a cinema.

The Palace, built on part of what was the Chauntry site, opened in July, 1920, with the film King Solomon's Mines, under the newly formed company, Palace Appletongate (Newark) Ltd.

Mrs Emily Blagg, who was involved with another cinema in the town, had drawn up the plans for The Palace the year before. It seated 1,500 people and had a large stage.

There was a cafe and a lounge which were open daily. Later in 1920 the company, Newark Cinemas Ltd, was formed and took control of The Palace.

High class pictures were shown and an orchestra played in the cafe during afternoons. In 1924, the cafe became known as The Cafe Billiards Room after the management obtained a billiards licence.

Four years later they were granted a stage play licence and The Palace, with ten dressing rooms, began to stage plays.

The first film with sound shown at the theatre was Broadway Melody in April, 1930. Five years later the interior was redecorated. In 1952, it became part of the Star group, along with other cinemas in the town, and began to run with an annual pantomime.

The stage was opened to amateur use and on the film front, in 1954, a new Panoramic Wide Screen was installed.

The Savoy cinema, however, not The Palace was the number one cinema in the town and in the Sixties it became licenced for bingo.

For a time one feature film was followed by a 14-game bingo session. This soon changed as bingo took over every night and by 1970 there were no films being shown at The Palace.

Then, two years later, when Star Cinemas closed their Newark cinemas to concentrate on bingo elsewhere, The Palace closed.

Public outcry and council interest saved the building, however, and it reopened as an arts and leisure centre with a mixture of amateur and professional shows as well as films.

It continues to host an annual pantomime and to attract well-known entertainers such as Ken Dodd and Jo Brand.

 

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