The existing building was built in 1895 as The Queens market (accessed from Back Crescent Street) and The Albert Hall (accessed from Victoria Street) although a timber-built market stood on this site, circa 1870 (known as The Prince of Wales Bazaar). It subsequently burnt down and was replaced with the building there today. This building was possibly designed by the same architect as The Winter Gardens.
The ironwork of the Market Hall came from a renowned ironworks in Derby (A.Handyside, who has work all over the world). The market ran from 1895 to 1919, when it became Palladium Cinema. The 1000 seat cinema was in operation until the late 1970’s. This cinema was much loved by the people of Morecambe and its visitors for many reasons – and we hope to tell this story in a stand-alone exhibition as there are still living memories of it as a cinema and its history can be built upon as more things are discovered. It is believed to have been the first cinema to have double ‘love seats’ in the country. It had the most state of the art extraction system of any cinema in 1933. The Blackman fan ring from the extraction system has been kept and will be on display as a huge clock in the main upstairs hall. Also found in the renovations is a painted glass panel of what look like World War Two bombers that we believe were illuminated around the auditorium during the intervals. Eric Morecambe is believed to have described it as “The Flea Pit” in an interview with Michael Parkinson. Although, the majority of people form Morecambe knew it as “The Ranch House” as it only played Westerns and had holes in the ceiling that looked like bullet holes!
The front of the building – Albert Hall has had many uses. It was built as a music hall and from the small fragments that have been found in the renovations, this room would have been highly decorated with plaster mouldings and an elaborate gold-leafed patterned ceiling. Unfortunately, due to the condition of the building this was beyond repair. It was said to be used as the Town Hall, before the existing 1930’s building was built. After this, it became a flotation swimming costume manufacturer called New Trend Wear Ltd (apparently the costumes were tested at the end of the stone jetty!). It was then a children’s cinema, an 8mm cinema in the 1960’s and most recently, Crystal T’s nightclub late 70’s to early 2000. A history of the nightclub will be displayed up the original nightclub stairs.
The main body of the building was turned into Concorde squash club in the late 70’s, where there was provision of 5 squash courts, 2 of which were glass backed match courts. These glass backs have been retained within the building to keep this part of its history. The squash club also closed, early 2000’s. The building was then left to deteriorate with the lead being stolen, until we purchased it, saving it from demolition in January 2015.
The building was in such a terrible state that it was almost beyond repair, and we have spent the time since we bought it – repairing the damage and clearing out the rubbish.Sponsor Us