The story so far
Predating all of the Art-Deco style super cinemas of the 1920’s – 1930’s, the Palace is one of the earliest existing examples of a purpose-built cinema in the country. Built on the original 'fair field', where the travelling theatre would make an annual visit, as well as the fair, a weekend market, and the cricket field, the site has been the centre of popular entertainment in the village of Ibstock for over one hundred years. In 1912, the Palace, designed by local architects Goddard & Wain of Coalville, was built by Baxter’s Builders; it opened its doors for the first time on Boxing Day that year. Unable to compete with the rise of televisions and large out of town cinemas, the last film to roll off the reel was Walt Disney’s “Jungle Book” in 1970. Still a provider of popular community entertainment, the Palace was used as a Bingo Hall, before finally closing for business in 1993. Bought by the Parish Council on 3 October 1995 the building was leased to the Palace Arts Centre Ltd in 2000.
During the years that the Management Committee worked on a strategy to secure the necessary funds to re-open The Palace doors through a complex mixture of funding bids, it was encouraging to receive reports such as the one from T.R. Projects (A local heritage group), who had these comments to make about The Palace;
This building is a rare survival of a truly significant type of building of great social importance. It is in sound major structural state and can be clearly used again. There is a high rate of survival traces of the earlier uses of the building which will enable detailed historic study to be undertaken. The austere exterior of the building does not automatically fit into the natural perception of entertainment architecture. The significance of its function was, however, the escapism of film. This building is too early to have the drama of the Art-Deco super cinemas. It is a truly economical, local expression of a facility for the whole community.”
In 1994/5, the Civic Trust Regeneration Unit undertook a Study of Ibstock, worked with the community to identify issues that they faced and projects that could be developed to help improve the economic prospects of the village. The following key areas of work (amongst others) were identified in the study:
- To improve the village centre;
- To strengthen existing community facilities;
- To make the best of the opportunities presented by the Palace.
The Ibstock Market Towns Healthcheck undertaken in 2003 reinforced these findings. This identified the following key actions:
- The need for a community venue
- Feasibility study for an occasional market
- Creation of a culture group
The redevelopment of the Palace has been designed to address these issues. It has brought the Palace back into Community use.
At the end of 2005 we secured enough funding to make our vision of the Palace Community Centre finally become a reality. The cost of the project was £220,000 of capital spend to achieve Phase 1. The Palace Community Centre received funding from Leicester Shire Economic Partnership; Ibstock Cory Environmental Trust; North West Leicestershire District Council's Housing Renewal Area Funding; Leicestershire County Council; Ibstock Parish Council and David Wilson. As the building has a historical and cultural value, a specialist Architect, DEK Architects, was employed to ensure that the significant elements of the building were not lost in the refurbishment.
Since re-opening in September 2006 the venue has hosted concerts, ranging from classical to brass bands and national and local bands plus solo artists, comedy nights, quiz nights, ceilidhs, theatre productions - including ’Live and Local’ professional touring theatre companies to local drama groups, private parties – birthdays, anniversaries, wedding receptions, seminars, business promotions, art valuations, car boots, auctions, regular event hire such as exercise classes for all ages, children’s dance classes, pilates, tai chi, toddler groups, older peoples groups, amateur dramatic group, private training hire, local government run training sessions, local authority ‘wellness’ clinics, regular bingo, community mornings, skittles nights, regular film nights and wine tasting evenings. The Palace also hosts an annual Christmas Festival and is the venue for the annual Ibstock Horticultural Show.
Phase 2 of the restoration took place shortly after Phase 1 and included the restoration of the stage and dressing room areas. And, finally, phase 3 of the restoration took place 100 years after the Palace was first built. Our ‘Centenary Room’ sits on the site of the former back-yard of the Palace. This room can be hired for small meetings or can be incorporated with the main hall, giving extra space. The Centenary Room is light and airy and offers a very useful additional facility.