BaR News Round-up - October 2022

Our update of entries in Wales has produced a huge range of fresh information, with a number of promising projects in train, news of a huge and historic site for sale and several other buildings looking for new owners and new uses.  In this article, we highlight some of these new stories. 

Palace Theatre, Prince of Wales Road, Swansea SA1 2EY 

Stopping traffic is not always a good thing to be known for as a historic building, but some time ago, the grade II listed Palace Theatre was in such a vulnerable state that there was concern for public safety in the streets around it.  That was before the Council acquired this much-loved and well-known Swansea landmark and before the scheme for a tech and creative hub. 

The Swansea Pavilion (now known as the Palace Theatre) was built in 1888 on a prominent triangular site in central Swansea. It was designed by Bucknall and Jennings. Originally a music hall and variety theatre, it was converted to cinema use in 1953, then to bingo in 1961 and finally used as a nightclub from 1992 until its closure in 1997.

The impressive façade is made up of a rusticated ground floor and two upper floors with giant Doric pilasters with panels featuring busts. It is topped by a circular tower at the apex and a square tower at each of the other two corners with a curved pavilion roof.  Some original internal features remain and earlier this year, Wales Online reported that, during strip-out work, an orchestra pit in front of the stage was discovered as were original fittings such as gas lamps and fire exit signs. 

The interesting proposals for the new scheme were designed by GWP Architecture.  They include retaining a small performance space and creating mezzanine floors on the balcony levels housing office space that look down towards the stage.  This progress has been achieved with the participation of the Friends of Palace Theatre Group, Cadw, the Theatres Trust and the Victorian Society in addition to the Council. The Friends of The Palace Theatre Swansea Facebook page has updates on ongoing work.

Also in Swansea: 

Albert Hall, Craddock Street, Swansea SA1 3EP

The Albert Hall opened in 1864 as a music hall which was visited by some of the big names in Victorian society including Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde and David Lloyd George.  After it ceased use as a music hall, it served as a cinema and a bingo hall but had been standing empty since 2007. 

After making Albert Hall our Building of the Month in 2021, we were delighted to hear that work had started to restore it and bring it back into use as mixed-use development, with an 800-capacity music and entertainment venue, lifestyle and business offices, and a roof terrace. The developers behind the £8m restoration are LoftCo, who are responsible for creating two other large entertainment venues in Wales, The Tramshed in Cardiff and J-Shed in Swansea. The tenants of the music venue will be The Depot, an entertainment brand who have had success in Cardiff in recent years. You can see the plans on Wales Online and get regular updates on the Save Swansea’s Albert Hall Facebook page.

Pembroke Defensible Barracks - FOR SALE

The grade II* Pembroke Defensible Barracks are on the market through Strutt & Parker for offers over £500,000.  The barracks are situated in a prominent location on the crest of Treowen Hill, overlooking the Royal Dockyard.  They are regarded as one of the most unusual barracks in Britain and possibly the last example of a square bastion trace fortification in Europe, a type that was developed in 16th century Italy. 

They were built between 1841 - 1861 to house officers and men of the Royal Marines, and, to a limited extent, to provide land-ward defence for the Royal Dockyard. At the heart of the site is a 140 feet square parade ground enclosed by barrack blocks. The buildings surrounding this resemble a fine Georgian-style square with their pedimented centrepieces on three sides and 12-pane sash windows.  Unlike a Georgian square however, this one is protected by arrow-shaped bastions and surrounded by a dry moat. 

The site has had permission in the past for conversion to a hotel and part of it has already been restored to use as apartments.   It represents, as the marketing material says, a very interesting opportunity to develop and restore a historic building of national importance. 

Other buildings for sale on the register in Wales

There are at least three other buildings on the register in Wales which appear to be formally for sale, Lydstep Palace, Lydstep, Pembrokeshire SA70 7SG (click here for details), Kidwelly Town Hall, 13 Causeway Street, Kidwelly, Carmartheshire SA17 4UD (click here for details) and Marine Buildings, Penarth Dock, Vale of Glamorgan CF64 1TT (click here for particualrs). 

In addition, there are many other remote and rural buildings on our register which appear to have been abandoned and which would merit further investigation.  We welcome any news about any of the buildings we have on the register and any recent photographs showing their condition.  Please contact Liz Fuller, Buildings at Risk Officer,