Harton, South Shields
The Palladium, Harton
12 Jan 2024
Harton, South Shields
This is a
Current status is
Designer (if known):
JH Morton & Son
Now a supermarket
I LOVE repurposed old cinemas. They’re always so ugly, with their bare facades screaming for someone to realise their true purpose. Luckily on this one, we can still see its sculpted sides which give an inkling to its former glory.
This is the Palladium at Harton, opened in 1930 and designed by J H Morton & Son who were more known for their Poor Law work and churches. They also did a lot of the housing round Tyne Dock and a few pubs dotted around.
Upon opening, it had seats for 1018 people and was twinned with cinemas at Redcar and Lowestoft. It was built for “talkies” (ie films with sound), and had room for orchestras and stage performances. The proprietor's upon opening were Thompson's Enterprises, who owned a great number of cinemas across the North East - many of became Essoldo's. Empires, Gaumont's and Rex Cinemas. The cinema was designed with "intimacy and comfort" in mind, with the scheme "characterised by simplicity".
It was 104ft in length with a width of 64ft. There was a main vestibule 64ft long by 22ft wide, with a pay box featuring automated ticked machines. The interior was in the "modern continental style", with E Turner of Redcar responsible for the decoration - a firm local and regular contractor to Thompson's Electric fittings were supplied by Edison Swan
It only lasted 30 years though. Its last film was “The Blue Angel”, and was soon converted into a cinema. This happened a lot, with the interior gutted providing a warehouse-like cavernous space. It has been under the guise of various supermarkets since, and pet food shops!
Listing Description (if available)
Here, you can see Ordnance Survey maps after and before the construction of the Palladium. It stood on what was then the A19 to South Shields in the fast developing suburb of Harton. The area is pretty much identical to how it is now, bar the fact it was the main motorway from Middlesbrough.
The 1890s map provides a different perspective however. This was when South Shields was fast expanding its peripheries to accommodate the swathes of shipyard workers and pitmen moving in for work. The Palladium was one such amenity built to tap into this fast growing settlement. As you can see by this point, only some of the terraces were built, though the larger villas were mostly built on Sunderland Road.
We can go back even further to how it looked in the 1850s, when this map was surveyed. Harton Nook was named so because of the hook/bend in the road between fields. The whole road was a turnpike, ie a toll road from Sunderland to South Shields. It was entirely unpopulated between Harton and Cleadon bar a few farmhouses.
The exterior of the Palladium in 2023. The side elevations are still intact from the cinema days.
Undated shot of the Palladium looking south. Source: Cinema Treasures
The Palladium in 1935, unknown original source.