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Gaumont Palace History

Gaumont Palace History

A Taunton Venue Since 1932

The second cinema in Taunton to bear the name Odeon was initially opened as the Gaumont Palace Theatre on 11th July 1932 with Renate Muller in “Sunshine Susie”. It was built for Albany Ward, a division of Gaumont British Theatres. It featured a restaurant at first floor level above the main foyer, which had decorative freizes of birds and flowers painted by artist Frank Barnes. In the auditorium, the decoration was elaborate with shell-like wall sconces and a highly decorated ceiling panel. The proscenium was 50 feet wide and the stage was 74 feet wide, and 21 feet deep. There were eight dressing rooms.

It was renamed Odeon in 1969, and was closed by the Rank Organisation on 5th September 1981.

From November 1981 it was converted into a Top Rank Bingo Club, which later became a Mecca Bingo Club. The former projection box has been converted into offices, but the auditorium and foyers remains pretty well intact. It also retains many of it’s external features, the canopy has been enclosed in light blue metal cladding.

The former Gaumont Palace is a Grade II Listed building.

Gaumont Palace Enters the 'Talkies' Era

The film shown at its opening was Sunshine Susie, a 1931 British musical comedy starring Renate Muller, Jack Hulbert, and Owen Nares. It was voted the best British film of 1932. This was the ‘talkies’ coming to Taunton! The cinema capacity was built for 1476 people.

It was the early days for film with sound – hence why it was called the ‘talkies’ era.

Take a look at the video on this page to see the actual film audiences saw on that day. Or click the programme print for a larger view of the official opening of Gaumont Palace Taunton.

An Icon Celebrating Why The Gaumont Palace was Made

Take a look at at the sculptured panel above the centre window and you will discover ‘Love and Life Entangled in Film’ by Newbury Abbot Trent. Homage to the picture house that the Gaumont Palace was made for.

Newbury Abbot Trent was an English sculptor and medallist. Trent studied at the Royal College of Art and Royal Academy Schools, where he became an associate. His works include reliefs, statues and other forms of sculpture. Many of his most notable works are war memorials in England, Scotland and Wales.

Famous Bands & People Who Performed at Gaumont Palace

The Beatles’ had two appearances in Taunton, Somerset. The first had also been at the Gaumont Cinema, on 26 February 1963, as part of the Helen Shapiro tour. For each of the concerts The Beatles earned £250 (equivalent to 176 days (skilled tradesman)). Today about £5,240.25.

Other bands and artists include:

Jun 26th 1981 – Diamond Head
June 12th 1981 – The Undertones
Apr 25th 1981 – The Cure
Feb 28th 1981 – Iron Maiden
Dec 20th 1980 – Hawkwind
Dec 5th 1980 – Adam and the Ants
Nov 21st 1980 – Saxon
Oct 10th 1980 – Ozzy Osbourne
Feb 21st 1980 – Peter Gabriel
Sep 29th 1979 – Hot Chocolate
Sep 21st 1979 – The Stranglers
Sep 14th 1979 – Darts
Jan 25th 1979 – Elvis Costello & the Attractions
Oct 11th 1978 – Buzzcocks
Sept 24th 1978 – Dr. Feelgood
Nov 27th 1963 – Billy Fury
Oct 25th 1963 – Bo Diddly
Oct 25th 1963 – The Rolling Stones
Oct 25th 1963 – The Everly Brothers
Oct 25th 1963 – Little Richard
Sept 5th 1963 – The Beatles
Feb 21st 1962 – Cliff Richard & the Shadows
Oct 11th 1961 – Adam Faith
May 20th 1961 – Tommy Steel
Feb 14th 1960 – Eddie Cochran
Feb 14th 1960 – Gene Vincent
16th Apr 1957 – The Platters
May 30th 1976 – Elton John
Nov 21st 1975 – Queen
Oct 2nd 1975 – Roy Orbison
Dec 3-4th 1974 – Faces (Rod Stewart)
Jun 15th 1973 – David Bowie
Oct 20th 1966 – The Hollies
Oct 20 1966 – Small Faces
May 18th 1965 – The Kinks
May 18th 1965 – The Yardbrids
Apr 9th 1965 – The Searchers
Apr 9th 1965 – The Zoombies
Mar 17th 1965 – Herman’s Hermits
Mar 17th 1965 – Del Shannan
Sept 22nd 1964 – Freddy & the Dreamers

If you know any more then why not drop us a message with your story or email us images of the event you attended.