Trust joins bid to save iconic venue
THE Theatres' Trust has joined calls to save Swansea's crumbling Palace Theatre.
The national advisory body has called on the Kent-based owner of the former theatre on High Street to take action to halt further decay of the building, which is fenced off and overgrown.
It comes 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.
It was also the venue where Sir Anthony Hopkins made his first professional appearance.
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 is it a special building. It's not a case of him being obstructive or difficult.