Virtual Museum coverage of archaeological excavations and chance discoveries in and around the old Palace Theatre site in the Saw Close has brought memories flooding back for follower Sam Farr.
This is an area that will be regenerated to house a casino, hotel and restaurants but – in the meantime -the old theatre building – which housed Gala Bingo when it closed a couple of years ago – had originally been built to house music hall entertainment and was known as the Palace for many years.
Sam sent me an email with his thoughts on the subject.
With your piece on the old Palace Theatre, thought I would add a few memories, My family lived over our newsagents in the Abbey Church Yard and in the days before TV were keen theatre-goers
We went regularly to the Theatre Royal to see Clarkson Rose and his Twinkle variety shows and the Pavilion for Music for the Millions, we saw A young Julie Andrews, Spike Milligan, Rob Wilton, Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler, Peter Brough and Archie Andrews, Max Wall, Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe to name a few.
My first memory of the Palace Theatre was being taken down to the Chronicle aged between 5 and 7 by my Dad and shown the old Lion living in a cage in the machine room as there was no room for it in the theatre, I often wondered how they got it across Bridewell Lane to the theatre.
Gerald Walker who was the chief sub was I think the last staff member to leave and remember the lion.
The show that sticks in my young mind was an Egyptian fakir act where he laid on a bed of nails and bent metal bars.
The drummer in the orchestra I seem to remember as being a very stout chap called Tommy Rod.
When I was at school in my early teens a school friend had a birthday and his mother gave him the money to take his friends to the Palace, it turned out to be a sort of Fan dancing Phyllis Dixie show and nobody even queried our age.”