IT was Huddersfield’s famous music hall.
The Palace Theatre attracted some of the country’s top performers and thousands of families would flock to its popular sell-out variety shows.
But now the final curtain could be set to come down on the Kirkgate building as the owners have served a demolition notice.
Hallco 1127, a development company based in London, hope to clear the site as part of plans for an expansion of the nearby Kingsgate shopping centre.
The Kingsgate Phase 2 scheme has been on hold for more than 18 months because of the recession.
Huddersfield Civic Society has described the possible loss of the iconic building as sad, while members of the local theatre community have said it is an important part of the town’s theatrical heritage.
Chris Marsden, the society’s listing and conservation officer, said: “We will be greatly disappointed to lose the facade. We always thought it would have been stunning if it had been restored as a theatre.
“It’s an important part of our townscape and is one of the architect’s last surviving theatres.”
The imposing theatre was originally built as a music hall by Horsfall and Sons in 1909 with ornate decorative plasterwork and an auditorium capacity of 1,614 people.
The building was badly destroyed when a fire broke out during a production in January 1936.
It was substantially rebuilt with an Art Deco finish by Ronald Satchwell and today is one of the last surviving examples of his work.
Its programme of live variety shows continued to prove popular withfamilies.
John Lockwood, vice-chairman of Huddersfield Civic Society, said: “I went to see the shows in the 1940s when I was about eight. It was a bit of a family tradition and my grandparents would take me on a Saturday.
“I remember thinking it was a very grand building and that there was always a very good illusionist.
“It had all the well-known performers and was always busy, there was no TV and that was the entertainment.”
But as audience figures started to dwindle the theatre closed. It was then reopened in 1959 as a cabaret theatre.
In 1969 it became a bingo hall which ran for many years, being converted into a Chicago Rock Cafe nightclub in 1997 and later Club Society.
Inside the dress circle and upper circle still remain and despite the changes of use and painting over the tall windows, the exterior remains little altered.
A return to use as a theatre was ruled out with the development of the Lawrence Batley Theatre and in 2008 the building was included in plans for the Kingsgate 2 project.
Mr Marsden described the loss of the venue as a sign of the times, but said it would be sadly missed by those who still have fond memories of the music hall.
He said: “I know it has been neglected and in its current state is not very appealing, but I do regard it as an asset to the streetscape, particularly in its relation to buildings like the parish church with its gothic tower.
“When the building was new it would have been incredibly novel and glamorous and such an exciting place for people to go and see these variety acts.
“It will still be a fond memory in many peoples’ minds, but they would have to be in their 70s or 80s to remember it in its heyday.
“It is a sign of the times that the building has had to change its use over the years to fit in with modern social habits, but I do think it is a shame that it could not have been restored as a theatre.”
A spokesman for Hallco confirmed a notice had been served but stressed that no timetable had been drawn up.
He said the site was an integral part of the plans for any Kingsgate expansion.