BBC Ten O’Clock News anchorman, Huw Edwards, fondly remembers the Palace cinema, Market Street, Llanelli
«I have wonderful memories of the Palace cinema, or ‘Vints’, as it was known locally – Huw Edwards says. – It wasn’t Llanelli’s main cinema however – that was called the Classic, and was a rather classier joint!»
The Palace was a particular favourite with schoolkids. I saw several brilliant films there, including The Battle of Britain, The Sound of Music and The Jungle Book when they all first appeared. But by 1971 the Palace had become rather down at heel, which is when I started going there regularly with friends. We would catch the bus from our village in Llangennech for the four mile ride to Llanelli. The bus ticket cost 5p, and the cinema ticket not much more!
Some memories at the Palace
Before that, I’d only been there with my parents, sister and grandmother. But it was also the place of my first ‘independent’ visit to the pictures – no adults in tow. And I remember going with a gang of lads to see an unspeakably bad Carry On film… you know the sort, but great fun and very daring for an 11-year-old. We also saw an On the Buses special, as well as a ‘Til Death Us Do Part special with Warren Mitchell, Una Stubbs etc.
The Palace had a very ‘20s feel, indeed it had also served as an old music hall, and had a grand lobby, old-fashioned box office. There was an unmistakable aroma of cigarettes – smoking being allowed in cinemas at that time of course. And there was a hint of damp too.
But I’d say my overriding memory of this once-great 1,000-seat theatre was of soggy, sagging velvet-covered chairs. And I suppose a sad atmosphere of faded grandeur throughout. There was a grand ceiling and ornate decorations. But the plaster on the walls had already started to crack, the paper was peeling. Even the carpets were very nearly threadbare. But we loved it!
For a time the Palace shared its cinema with bingo until it was destroyed by fire in 1973 upon which the place closed. For years it was boarded up before eventually being demolished. Now it is the site of a giant ASDA store and carpark. No comparison. With its demise, a special part of the town’s character is now erased forever. But I still carry a fondness for the Palace/Vints as do many of Llanelli’s people today.