Theatre Royal, Merthyr Tydfil - May 2022
Found myself in glorious South Wales for a day and a night in May with MotionlessMike - much fun was had and quite a lot achieved.
We had a few places that we particularly wanted to look at, but much of the time was spent looking at random bits that happened to be nearby. This place was one the random bits, there is an old report on here from 2012 with seemingly no more recent updates, aside from news articles relating to the buildings sale at auction. Safe to say that time has not been kind to this place, in the decade since that report the building has taken a battering and it's surely only a matter of time before a major structural failure brings the whole place tumbling down.
Brief history pinched from Cinema Treasures:
Located in the town of Merthyr Tydfil, Mid-Glamorganshire, south Wales. The Theatre Royal and Opera House was opened in 1891 with 1,500 seats. It was designed by local Merthyr Tydfil architect T.C. Wakeling in a Neo-Classical style. It was screening films as part of its programme from the early-1900’s. It had a 28 feet wide proscenium and a 22 feet deep stage and six dressing rooms. It was taken over by the Associated British Cinemas (ABC) chain in 1932, and was given an Art Deco style makeover inside the auditorium. It was leased to the Regent Theatres chain (a subsidiary of ABC) in May 1933 until 1935, when it returned to ABC management. It was taken over by an independent operator in 1939. CinemaScope was fitted in 1955 and a new 38 feet wide proscenium was installed. The Theatre Royal was closed in the late-1960’s and was converted into a bingo club. This had closed by August 2009, and the building is currently unused. The Theatre Royal is a Grade II Listed building.
An extremely comprehensive and interesting history is available on the Arthur Lloyd website.
A classic case of the exterior being buggered about with to keep it looking "modern", removing most of the neo-classical featuring in the thirties has left the building looking rather odd to say the least. Of course the less said about the more modern reworking of the left hand doorway the better.
The rear of the stalls, with plasterwork fanciness on the underside of the circle. Various parts of the upper floors are gradually making their way down stairs as can be seen here. Upstairs there are many doorways that lead you to the abyss.
The proscenium in it's final form, with assorted bingo related bits. The coat of arms is off centre, just to be incredibly annoying. The green, blue and yellow paint scheme and the pine panelling up the stage access ramp are particularly horrible. Thankfully plenty of the green has peeled revealing a more normal looking gold type colour that seems better suited to the architectural stylings of the place.
The solid concrete floor of the projection and electrical rooms made for a pleasant change compared to the nastiness of the rest of the building. No holy grail mercury arc rectifier unfortunately, but it was nice and dated at least.
Hard not to enjoy visiting a cinema.