From palace to pitiful: How a Victorian music hall that hosted Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy has become a crumbling a wreck
These pictures show how a historic Victorian music hall which once played host to Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy has dwindled – into a crumbling wreck.
The Palace Theatre in Plymouth, Devon, drew some of greatest names in showbusiness in its heyday.
After opening in 1898, the Flemish Renaissance-style theatre hosted the likes of Chaplin and Gracie Fields – but its ornate splendour is long gone.
The plaster friezes and ornamental cherubs are now coated in a thick layer of dust and the floor is covered with debris and broken glass.
Laurel and Hardy can still be seen smiling down from a battered painting on the tiered auditorium which originally seated 1,440 theatre-goers.
The legendary duo performed at the Palace in 1954 but their week-long run was cut short after one night when Oliver Hardy had a severe bout of flu and a mild heart attack.
The Grade II listed building was turned into a nightclub in the 1990s but has remained empty since 2006 when police targeted it in a massive drugs sting.
Former club boss Manoucehr Bahmanzadeh, who bought the property for £550,000, was jailed for permitting the premises to be used for the supply of Class A drugs.
He was also ordered to hand over £1million under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Bahmanzadeh, who has since been released from prison, has previously offered to give the venue away to an Islamic charity so it can be turned into a mosque.
The Palace features on the ‘at risk’ building lists published by English Heritage and the Victorian Society.
A spokesman for Bahmanzadeh said: “We are speaking to English Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Plymouth City Council about raising funds to put it right.”