The show must go on - how a family rescued theatre rarities
It was a rather bittersweet task to write my article last month about Leicester's Palace Theatre, which stood in Belgrave Gate. I say bittersweet, because although I enjoyed telling the Palace's tale, I never had the pleasure of going to this venue, which sounds like it provided some lively entertainment.
I had ended the article by asking if anyone knew what had happened to the distinctive revolving metal sign that topped the theatre.
Reader Derrick Pearce knows for definite – his family bought it when the theatre was demolished and he still has part of it, as well as some other rare souvenirs of this long-gone city theatre!
"What a wonderful write up on the Palace Theatre. It almost breaks my heart to be taken back, but what happy days," says Derrick, of Aylestone.
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"My late father, George, would take me and my elder brother, Barry, to see the shows there. We'd be seated in Box B: that's auditorium stage right.
"Then, when the theatre shut in 1959, we attended the viewings prior to the sale day of all the fittings.
"Unfortunately, during a viewing, I managed to step on a four-inch nail on the stage – I might add, the only time I got on the Palace's stage – which meant a trip to the royal infirmary for an anti-tetanus jab.
"My father bought the Palace sign for £11 – but we had to get it off the roof.
"Somehow, we lowered it with ropes down the front of the building. I suspect some of the lads from Collington's demolition helped us.
"I still have the sign's letters. Originally, they were mounted on a large crown wheel and pinion assembly – long gone.
"There was a star on top of the sign, too. We mounted it on our shop, George's, at 211 Fosse Road North, in the roof above my bedroom.
"The plan had been to mount the whole sign on the roof, but the council said the sign was 'not conducive to the surrounding area'.
"I think we took down two chandeliers in the theatre's auditorium – it reminds me of Del Boy's similar escapade in Only Fools and Horses!
"We had to break them up at the back of our shop.
"We had the shell uplighters from the stairway to the theatre's balconies, on our lounge wall for many a year, and I still use some of the half pint beer mugs from the bar. I often dream of who might have drunk from them.
"Oh happy days, indeed!"