Arthur Lloyd.co.uk
The Music Hall and Theatre History Site
Dedicated to Arthur Lloyd, 1839 - 1904.

 

Theatres in Salisbury, Wiltshire

The Salisbury Playhouse and Salberg - The City Hall / New Picture House / Odeon - The Gaumont Palace Theatre / Odeon Cinema

See also in this area - Winchester - Southampton - Bournemouth Theatres

The Salisbury Playhouse and The Salberg, Malthouse Lane, Salisbury

The Salisbury Playhouse in September 2018 - Courtesy Tim Speechley.

Above - The Salisbury Playhouse in September 2018 - Courtesy Tim Speechley.

The Salisbury Playhouse is situated on Malthouse Lane and was first opened 1976. The Theatre consists of the main Theatre with seating for 517, and a studio Theatre called the Salberg with seating for 149. The Playhouse forms part of part of Wiltshire Creativ which also comprises the Salisbury Arts Centre on Bedwin Street, a former Church building.

  • Playhouse1.jpg
  • Playhouse3.jpg
  • Playhouse4.jpg
  • Playhouse2_banner.jpg

Above - Photographs of the Auditorium and Stage of the Salisbury Playhouse in September 2018 - Courtesy Tim Speechley.

A Google StreetView Image of the Salisbury Playhouse - Click to Interact.The Playhouse Theatre has a fan shaped auditorium with an hexagonal shaped stage, which has a width of 12.5 metres, a depth of 10.5 metres, and a grid height of 13 metres, with 18 double purchase counterweight sets for flying scenery and lighting. The Theatre is equipped with 4 main dressing rooms and 2 smaller ones, and a green room for artists, and also has a large foyer and bar for its patrons.

Right - A Google StreetView Image of the Salisbury Playhouse - Click to Interact.

Virtual Tours of both the Playhouse Theatre and Salisbury Arts Centre, inside and out, can be found here.

You may like to visit the Playhouse Theatre's own Website here.

If you have any more information or Images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me.

The City Hall, Fisherton Street and Malthouse Lane, Salisbury

Formerly - The New Picture House / Odeon

A Google StreetView Image of the City Hall, Salisbury, formerly the New Picture House / Odeon - Click to Interact.

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the City Hall, Salisbury, formerly the New Picture House / Odeon - Click to Interact.

The City Hall, Salisbury was originally built as a replacement for the Picture House which was situated next door to the current building. Originally opening as the New Picture House on the 27th of September 1937, the City Hall was constructed for Gaumont British Theatres to the designs of William Edward Trent, W. Sydney Trent, and R. C. H. Golding. It first opened with a showing of the 1937 film 'King Solomon's Mines'

The Cinema, which could originally seat some 1,313 people, was renamed Odeon in February 1950 when the Rank Organisation took it over. They would close the Cinema however, in 1961, and it was then bought by the City Council who converted into their City Hall.

The Theatres Trust says that the original Cinema had a 'long spacious vestibule [which] led to a roomy foyer. The striking auditorium was of the stadium type, with seats behind the stalls entrances rising in a steep rake, rather than having the conventional balcony. Slender silver columns framed the stage with its curtains of cream and peach trimmed with gold and green.' - The Theatres Trust.

When the Cinema was converted into the City Hall the auditorium's 'Stadium Design' was retained but a new retractable raked floor was installed for seating. The original foyers were reconfigured for banqueting and conference use. The City Hall is today in use for theatrical productions and concerts and can be reached from either Fisherton Street or Malthouse Lane.

You may like to visit the City Hall's own Website here.

If you have any more information or Images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me.

The Gaumont Palace Theatre, 15 New Canal, Salisbury

Formerly - Ye Halle of John Halle - Later - The Odeon Cinema

A Google StreetView Image showing the Tudor Entrance to the Gaumont Palace Theatre / Odeon Cinema, Salisbury - Click to Interact.

Above - A Google StreetView Image showing the Tudor Entrance to the Gaumont Palace Theatre / Odeon Cinema, Salisbury - Click to Interact.

The Gaumont Palace Theatre opened on September the 7th 1931 with a showing of the film 'Chance of a Night Time'. The Cinema was designed by W. E. Trent and was a conversion of a former Tudor Gothic building called 'Ye Halle of John Halle', which was first constructed in 1470 as wool merchant John Halle's home, which was situated directly opposite the town's Wool Market. The facade and outer foyer of the Cinema today is still that of the original building, which was altered by Pugin in 1834 with a Mock Tudor Facade.

The interior of the new Gaumont Palace Theatre retained the original Tudor look of the former building with fibrous plaster recreations of its oak beams in the auditorium ceiling, and 50 framed canvas murals were hung on its walls by Frank Barnes who hoped to suggest the tapestries of the 15th century period. Even the Theatre's restaurant was designed in the Tudor style with oak tables and inglenook fireplaces etc.

The Bioscope reported on the conversion of the building into the Gaumont Palace Theatre in their September 16th 1931 edition saying:- 'When John Halle, a wool merchant, of Salisbury, built his house opposite the Wool Market in 1470, he may have wondered what would happen to his refectory or halle after he had passed on, but he certainly could never have imagined that after nearly five centuries his beautiful room would form the entrance vestibule for a picture theatre! Yet such is the case. The theatre is the Gaumont Palace, Salisbury, which opened on September 7th, and John Halle's coat of arms and his merchant's mark are still clearly seen on the window and chimney-piece the finely worked open timber roof and the walls remain as he knew them.

When the site was purchased at the beginning of 1930, the Gaumont British architect, W. E. Trent, F.S.I., and his assistant, E. F. Tulley, were faced with a novel and difficult problem. A picture theatre is essentially a modern building, and under ordinary conditions requires modem treatment, but here was a site contained in an old early Tudor hall, which, apart from its great historical value, would of necessity form part of the theatre approach.

Neon the Only Modern Touch

It was finally decided that as far as possible the old atmosphere should be preserved and that the new theatre should be redolent of its Tudor approach. How extraordinarily well the architect has achieved his object is abundantly apparent.

The appearance of the timbered, panelled, and plastered ceiling, mullioned windows and the stone walls hung with tapestries are a striking tribute to the accuracy and care which has been taken.

The front of the original building facing the canal remains unaltered, except that the oaken beams and general woodwork have been cleaned right down and dressed with oil. A bright note is struck by including the original bright hues of the shields and armorial bearings which are incorporated in the frontage. The only modern touch is that the name of the theatre has been carried out in Neon.

Fifty Hand-Painted Tapestries

The interior has been untouched except for necessary repairs and is a very interesting example of an old oak-timbered building. From the entrance hall glazed swing doors lead into the halle of John Halle. For those interested patrons and visitors a short history of the halle has been framed and hung on the walls. From this point the old building is left behind.

Passing up the two broad flights of steps one enters the Crush Hall proper. This lounge is panelled in oak and has a plastered ceiling, finished and decorated in the Tudor manner. From the Crush Hall entrance is gained to the auditorium, while staircases lead to the cafe and circle.

The theatre has a total seating capacity of 1,675, of which number 550 are accommodated in the circle. The decorative treatment of the auditorium is essentially on the lines of a large hall of the Tudor period.

A striking feature are the fifty beautifully painted tapestry panels which were executed by Frank Baines. The wall panels, besides being a strikingly decorative feature, act as sound absorbers and, it is claimed, materially help the acoustics.

The lighting of the auditorium has been very carefully considered and the old character has been preserved by the use of wrought-iron pendants. A modern note has been introduced by the use of concealed lighting in the ceiling panels, and by the glass valance around the lower side of the circle front. On either side of the wide proscenium opening are two decorative iron grilles, which by the deft use of concealed lighting add a pleasing old world touch to the stage. The whole of the electrical installation was carried out by E. C. C. Nicholls, A.M.I.E.E., chief engineer for Gaumont-British.

The theatre has been provided with a spacious stage, fire-proof curtain, grid flies, and all the equipment necessary for presenting practically any stage programme.'

The above text in quotes was first published in The Bioscope, 16th September 1931.

The Gaumont Palace Theatre opened on September the 7th 1931 with a showing of the film 'Chance of a Night Time' and would carry on under this name until it was renamed Gaumont in 1937. Then, after the Rank Organisation had taken it over, it was renamed Odeon in August 1964.

In November 1972 the Cinema was tripled by creating two small screens in the rear of the stalls under the circle, and one large one in the former circle. In 1993 another screen was created in the Theatre's former restaurant space. And in 1995 yet another screen was added, this time in the Theatre's former front stalls area.

Although the Cinema has been altered many times since 1931 it does still retain some of its original decoration and was designated a Grade II Listed building in 1984, with the entrance and exterior being designated Grade I. The Theatre was threatened with closure in 1986 but local opposition led to it being saved, and it is still in use as an Odeon multi screen cinema to this day.

You may like to visit the Cinema's own Website here.

Some of the above information was gleaned from the excellent Cinema Treasures Website which has many interesting photographs of the building here.

If you have any more information or Images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me.

Arthur Lloyd is known to have performed in Salisbury in 1871 and 1879.

Other Pages that may be of Interest