New Palace Theatre / Dance Academy, Plymouth

New Palace Theatre / Dance Academy, Plymouth

Opening in the late 1890s the Palace Theatre in Plymouth was lavishly decorated. It was last used as the popular Dance Academy nightclub before being closed in 2006.

Visited April 2019  UK Plymouth, Devon, UK Closed, Abandoned, Derelict

History of the Palace Theatre, Plymouth

The original Palace Theatre opened in 1898, featuring a grand interior. The foyer which featured grand marble columns was described as “beyond question one of the handsomest out of London”. After only 3 months of operation, most of the interior was destroyed by a fire, thought to be caused by heat from a stage cannon used during a performance.

The theatre was rebuilt and opened in 1899 as the New Palace Theatre, however the interior decoration was much less ornate. The present interior, as described by Historic England, “represents the theatre as a place for lavish entertainment as reflected in the rich and exciting decoration and architectural detail, with particular attention to nautical themes”. The entrance staircase opens up into a saloon bar decorated in the Cinquecento style.

Other than a brief period in 1961, the building remained in use a theatre under various ownerships, until 1965 when it became a club showing striptease, wrestling and bingo. The building was returned to use as a theatre for sporadic periods of time from then on.

In 1997 the building was purchased by Manoucehr Bahmanzadeh and renamed the “Dance Academy”. It became on the of UKs most popular nightclubs attracting all the big-name DJs of the time. In May 2006 following a five-month-long police operation, the club was raided and subsequently closed down. Owner Bahmanzadeh and manager Tom Costelloe received prison sentences for allowing the sale of a class A drugs. A great deal of scandal surrounds the case, and there’s an interesting Vice article that’s worth a read if you’re interested.

As seen during it's time as the Dance Academy
As seen during it’s time as the Dance Academy.​

To be fair, they did a pretty decent job of retaining much of the original interior, and it looks like the kind of place I’d have enjoyed going to back in the day!

The theatre is Grade II listed, is on the Heritage at Risk register and remains unused. The adjoining Great Western Hotel has fallen into a severe state of disrepair.

Exterior

New Palace Theatre, Plymouth - The grand exterior in all its glory
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth – The grand exterior in all its glory
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth - Exterior upper level detail (Source: Vice)
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth – Exterior upper level detail (Source: Vice)
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth - Depiction of the Spanish Armada leaving Ferrol (Source: Vice)
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth – Depiction of the Spanish Armada leaving Ferrol (Source: Vice)
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth - Front doors and tiled lettering detail
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth – Front doors and tiled lettering detail

Entrance Lobby

The lobby had been given a very nightclubby paint job

New Palace Theatre, Plymouth - Staircase in the entrance lobby
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth – Staircase in the entrance lobby
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth - View on the staircase
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth – View on the staircase
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth - Central view of staircase
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth – Central view of staircase

Saloon Bar

New Palace Theatre, Plymouth - The lavishly decorates saloon bar
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth – The lavishly decorates saloon bar
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth - Columns in the saloon bar
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth – Columns in the saloon bar
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth - Saloon bar archway detail
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth – Saloon bar archway detail

The Auditorium

New Palace Theatre, Plymouth - Central view towards the stage
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth – Central view towards the stage
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth - View from the top level of the auditorium
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth – View from the top level of the auditorium
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth - Side view across auditorium
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth – Side view across auditorium
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth - Angle view towards the stage
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth – Angle view towards the stage
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth - Note the nautical themed decor
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth – Note the nautical themed decor
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth - View towards the balconies
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth – View towards the balconies
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth - Another view towards the stage
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth – Another view towards the stage
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth - Detail of the nautical theming used throughout the decor
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth – Detail of the nautical theming used throughout the decor
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth - Looking back from the stage
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth – Looking back from the stage
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth - A bar in the auditorium circle level
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth – A bar in the auditorium circle level
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth - Nice tiles in the fire exits
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth – Nice tiles in the fire exits
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth - Part of the Dance Academy ironwork railings
New Palace Theatre, Plymouth – Part of the Dance Academy ironwork railings
Author: Andy Kay | Facebook | Flickr | Instagram

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