Date opened: 29th November 1937.
Date closed: 20th March 1971.
Owners: Gaumont-British Picture Corporation, Ltd.
Architect: William Edward Trent.
Opened by: The Right Honourable Countess of Radnor.
Seating Capacity: 1250.
First film shown: “King Solomon’s Mines” starring Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Paul Robeson, and Anna Lee.
The Gaumont Palace cinema Trowbridge, Wiltshire opened on the 29th November 1937 with ‘King Solomon’s Mines’ plus Oh! Doctor and Gaumont British News. It was built on the site of the Palace Theatre Trowbridge, which opened in December 1914 and closed in February 1937, a victim of the wrecking ball.
The 1250 seat hall which was opened by the Right Honourable Countess of Radnor with a personal appearance by film star Margaret Lockwood.
She presented a cheque to the matron of the local hospital. There was a guard of honour comprising Trowbridge Hospital nurses and a fanfare by the trumpeters of the royal Wiltshire Yeomanry, who paraded in the foyer.
The building, which was designed by William Edward Trent had a facade that was faced in local Bath stone and was a well-balanced colour scheme of blue and white. It was designed so it would line up with the architectural features of adjoining buildings. It was said that this has the effect of preserving an orderly and harmonious elevation to the main street of the town. Over the main entrance there was a wide projecting canopy of illuminated publicity announcements.
Various architectural features were picked out with neon illumination and The whole of the upper portion of the facade was floodlights from lamps concealed within the canopy.
The entrance hall was apricot with walnut panelling and a stepped ceiling, enriched with three laylights, each containing three spherical shaped electric light pendants. The stalls foyer was a pleasant little apartment, the walls lined with leather, headed in colour from a rich brown to a light peach.
The auditorium was decorated in dark blue and silver with a soft peach ceiling. The back walls were covered with a special absorbent material to soften the sound and cancel echoes.
On the lower portion of the walls a rich blue dado merged successfully into the blue of the general seating upholstery. A series of suspended electric light fittings produces a warm and intimate atmosphere.
On each side of the proscenium opening were two elaborately enriched and coloured grilles. They ran the full height between the floor and the ceiling and were enclosed by wide blue and silver columns. Each section of the grilles were illuminated separately from a lamp fixed behind the central feature and in addition does of concealed lighting were placed behind the columns on each side of the grilles.
The curtains (tabs) were in varying tones of blue with silver cross and tassels and a rich gold fringe at the bottom.
There was a free car park for patrons. Adente deaf aid equipment fitted to some seats were provided at no extra charge.
The first manager was Mr George Bigwood. He had joined the company in 1925 as an operator, moving into management in 1937. He was the last manager of the demolished Palace. While the Gaumont was being constructed he was sent to other houses, including Barnstaple.
Up in the operating box there was a Duosonic sound system by British Acoustic. The projectors were Gaumont Magnus with Brenkert arc lamps and Westinghouse rectifiers. No doubt later, Kalee 21 machines with either President or Lightmaster arcs would have been in use.
On the 11th November 1962 it became the Odeon. This closed on the 20th March 1971. The once popular Gaumont come Odeon became another victim of the wrecking ball. Retail was built on the site.
David A Ellischestercinemas.co.uk