Webpage created: June 07, 2017.
Webpage updated: June 07, 2017
THEATRES AND CINEMAS IN OLD PLYMOUTH
PALACE THEATRE OF VARIETIES
The Saint James's Hall was erected by Mr Henry Reed, the musical director at the Theatre Royal, and Mr John Snawden, and was opened in Union Street, Plymouth, in November 1866. It had a seating capacity of around 2,500 people and started out by housing a continental circus.
During the 1890s the Livermore Brothers, Horace and Lechmere, took over the management and called it the Palace of Varieties. It was basically a music-hall.
When, seemingly without warning, Mr Robert Paul brought his Theatrograph to Plymouth it was at the Palace of Varieties that he set up the machine as one of the "turns" on the variety bill. The date was Monday November 9th 1896.
The following morning the Western Daily Mercury reported: 'There was a large attendance at this theatre of varieties last evening. Paul's "animated photography" --- which has been drawing very large houses at the Alhambra, London, for some considerable time --- being no doubt the attraction. It is the first of its kind seen in the district. The first act of slides shown represented the Gordon Highlanders route marching, whilst as a second series the "White Eyed Kaffir" was exhibited in all his war paint, his antics causing considerable amusement. The set of photographs which demanded most attention showed the winning of the last Derby by H. R. H. the Prince of Wales's horse Persimmon.'
Such was the 'Enormous Success' of the Theatrograph that it was retained for 'Six Nights Longer' as over 2,000 people had apparently been turned away during the previous week. And as if that was not enough, it returned again for two weeks from Monday November 30th when it was billed as 'Paul's Alhambra Theatrograph'.
For the Saint James's Hall the glory of showing Plymouth's first motion picture was short lived. When the Livermore Brothers became involved in a project to erect a brand new theatre in Union Street, to be called the New Palace Theatre of Varieties, they decided to close the Saint James's Hall in order to cut out some of the likely competition. The last show there took place on Saturday November 6th 1897 and the company moved to other premises off Union Street until the new theatre was completed.