Sad yet fascinating photos reveal slow death of Palace Theatre in High Street, Swansea
YOU can almost hear the ghostly echoes of laughter and applause in these amazing pictures from inside the Palace Theatre in Swansea.
They reveal for the first time the devastation years of looking the other way have wreaked on this fantastic building.
For a long time the deteriorating state of the building has been seen from the outside.
It has looked like one of those fictional documentary programmes on television where they show how human civilization would be quickly grown over by nature if we were no longer around.
We are still around, however, yet as far as the Palace Theatre is concerned, we may as well not be.
And yet, there are still glimpses of past glories behind the decaying facade.
There is not much here which has escaped the ravages of time, but the paintings on the walls still shine brightly in the artificial light of the camera flash bulb.
Their vivid blue and green colours are a stark contrast to the mouldy ceiling and dusty brown seating.
Light fittings which once illuminated packed audiences and the familiar pre-show chatter, before dimming for curtain rise, are now permanently extinguished. But even they look ready to come alive once more with some love and attention.
The stage still screams for performance to take place there. You wonder, spookily, whether it still does late in the evening, when there is no-one there to see it.
What a majestic venue this could be is obvious.
In another photo ropes and cables to lift curtains and sets now stay taught but idle, tied by someone, and never untied.
And in the parts of a theatre no-one but the stage crews see, switches, from the small flick on-flick off style to larger wheels with handles, now lie dormant, waiting to bring life and magic to the stage once more.
This week the Theatres' Trust joined calls to save the theatre
The national advisory body called on the Kent-based owner of the High Street building to take action to halt further decay.
It came just weeks after people wanting to breath new life into the building held a public meeting to mobilise support for a campaign.
The derelict building has been empty since 2006, but once hosted stars such as Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy and Morecambe and Wise.
Mhora Samuel, director of the Theatres' Trust, which aims to save buildings at risk, said unless action was taken, it could not be left much longer.
She said: "Each year it's become increasingly more derelict, more abandoned, more neglected and this year in particular you can see that the buddleia has been allowed to let rip across the building and it's now getting into a very, very seriously neglected condition.
"You can see that buddleia is growing right the way around the parapet top of the building and that's basically dislodging the stonework, water's coming in and that's weakening the structure of the stonework of the building.
"The longer it's left in that condition, the weaker the building becomes and eventually it will fall down.
"It's been a building that has played an important role in the cultural life of Swansea for many a year."
The grade two listed building was built in 1888, and has also been used as a bingo hall and a nightclub.
Swansea Council has powers to make a compulsory purchase on the building, but does not have the money which would be needed for its restoration. Nick Bradley, Swansea Council’s cabinet member for regeneration, said a compulsory purchase order for the building would be the last resort and the council would also need financial help from the Welsh Government to carry out such an order.
"£1 million wouldn't even touch it," he said. "It was bought a few years ago but the owner hasn't done anything with it.
"We are trying to work with the owner to see if he is willing to do something with it as it is a special building. It's not a case of him being obstructive or difficult.”