Entertaining South Wales – An Encyclopaedia
The idea of compiling an Encyclopaedia of South Wales theatres derived from the publication of Ian Parson’s “Swansea’s Grand” – a comprehensive study of live performances in Swansea and District. Ian’s book uncovered so much fascinating information for just this one area of South Wales, that it raised the thought: what about the rest of South Wales?
In its heyday the industrial South Wales valleys offered rich pickings for touring theatre shows and entertainers. As well as the “proper” theatres in the big centres like Cardiff, Swansea, Merthyr and the like, there was money to be made and employment to be obtained in a large number of portable, fit-up and temporary buildings as well as the growing number of workmen’s halls throughout the region. And so the idea was born: why not make a list of ALL the entertainment venues, past and present,
in the South Wales area?
Originally the idea was to restrict the listing to theatres, but the vast number of early cine-variety houses – where early films were shown in between variety acts – and the popularity of live shows at the workmen’s halls suggested a wider range of venues should be included.
So, what follows is a listing of over 600 separate buildings: theatres, cinemas, halls and the like. There are many missing dates, many requests for further information, and doubtless a number of serious mistakes – but this is a start, no more than a work in progress.
Hopefully enthusiasts and knowledgeable experts will send corrections, updates and comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org so that the errors can be corrected, and a more accurate encyclopaedia can be created before we all get too old to remember!
Much of the information has been collated from individual recollections recorded in person or via the internet, with especial thanks to
Principal websites consulted
Welsh Cinema Photo History (Facebook)
John Miles Pontardulais Photo collection
John Earl & Michael Sell – “Guide to British Theatres 1750-1950”
Rob Firman – “Theatres & Performance Buildings of South Wales”
Paul Howells – “The Rink – Pontycymmer”
A.J. Marriot – Chaplin Stage by Stage
Ian Parsons – “Swansea’s Grand”
Cecil Price – “The English Theatre in Wales”
Cecil Price – “The Professional Theatre in Wales”
Beth Thomas – “Fleapits & Picture Palaces”
The Stage Newspaper