Scunthorpe’s Palace Theatre

Abygayle Janik, Placement Student

The Palace Theatre as a ‘third place’ through time.

Third places are spaces that encourage a sense of belonging and community. They are places people visit for entertainment and to spend time with friends and family. These can include cafes, parks, youth clubs, shopping centres, and theatres.

Cole Street, Scunthorpe, looking north in the 1920’s, with the ‘Palace’ theatre on the right.

Throughout the 20th century Scunthorpe’s Palace Theatre was an important third place. Over time the building’s name and use have both changed.

The Palace Theatre stood on Cole Street in Scunthorpe town centre. It opened in 1912 as a live theatre that hosted operas and other performances. One of the first was a Scunthorpe Choral Society performance on 30 April 1912. They performed the next year on the 30 January 1913, at the same location.

The Scunthorpe Choral Society Annual Concert programme from 1912.

The theatre continued to thrive after the First World War. It hosted performances from the Scunthorpe Amateur Operatic Society. They held a weeklong production of Merrie England, which commenced on the 4 April 1921.

Programme for Merrie England production by Scunthorpe Amateur Operatic Society in 1921.

The Palace Theatre’s name changed several times over the years. In the 1930s, it became the Savoy Theatre. Audiences could watch films, as well as live performances. The Savoy Theatre hosted live shows throughout the Second World War. One of these being the 8-Day Pianoforte Festival held on 25 April 1943. The Choral Society also performed there in 1945 with the musical work Acis and Galatea.

In the 1950s, the Savoy became the Essoldo Theatre. The theatre hosted performances from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, amongst others.

After a brief period as the Classic Cinema, the theatre closed for good in the late 1970s. It became a different type of third place as the Pennywise discount shop. It would later become a Poundstretcher. The building was demolished just before the turn of the 21st century. Where the Palace Theatre once stood is now home to F. Hinds in The Parishes Shopping Centre.

Throughout Scunthorpe’s history, third places represent a central part of community building. The Palace Theatre presented opportunities to connect with local arts and culture. Third places remain prevalent and are used by local clubs and societies. These include Scunthorpe Choral Society, art clubs at 20-21, Baysgarth Community Hub, and activities at North Lincolnshire Museum. 

Guest writer Abygayle Janik explored the collections and conducted research on the Palace Theatre, Scunthorpe. Abygayle undertook this work as part of the National Lottery Heritage Fund project: Documenting Northern Lincolnshire’s Local History.

Made possible with Heritage Fund stamp
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