The Palladium was built as a much needed Recreation Hall for the developing township with
money raised by public subscription, and opened in 1912. The ground floor was a
purpose-built theatre and cinema with stall and balcony seating and full stage facilities
built to the latest cinema/buildings regulations. Dressing rooms are on the lower floor
with one large room that housed billiard tables.
In the mid 1920s the shareholders sold the building to a cinema company, with the
arrangement that Millom Amateur Operatic Society should still present its annual musical
there. The Society had already installed the necessary staircases and fire curtain, and
made other minor alterations. This arrangement continued until 1968.
Millom was dependent on a single industry, mining for iron, and 1968 was the year when
the last mine closed. The cinema company decided to sell the Palladium and offered it to
the Society for £6000 pounds. This was an enormous sum for an entirely voluntary body
and all appeals to the council proved unsuccessful.
However the town was unwilling to lose its only home for entertainment, so a public
appeal was launched with a public meeting. Eventually, with financial support, the
Society purchased the Palladium and repaid the debt within the allotted time. In return,
the Society pledged itself to continue the original use of the building.
In 1977, the stall fixed seating was removed, a new floor put in and stackable seating
obtained. The billiard tables were removed and this became our rehearsal room in 1983/4.
A film club continued to show films until 1983, when demand died, however the Projection
equipment and screen are still with us and need little to update it for modern showings.
In 1986 the entire building was reroofed, at a cost of £19,000 pounds and with donations
from the local community the debt repaid by 1990. This unfortunately was not done with
roofing slates and repeated problems since mean a new roof will be required again within
the near future.
Millom Operatic Society became a charity in 1993, so we are an entirely voluntary body
that owns its own 370 seat theatre. There is believed to be only other such arrangement
in the country!
The Palladium ownership was passed to now defunct Millom & Haverigg Economic Development
Group to help ensure a long term future for theatre going in Millom. Once it became
apparent that this redevelopment was not going to happen and due to the increasingly
delapidated state of the building. An approach was made to Mr Barry Vernon to take on the
Chairman role of the society and try to regain control of the building for the benefit of
the town and the Society.
The Society took back ownership in late 2009. An immediate evaluation of the property and
societies plans for the building and finances were undertaken. This led to the
condemnation of the heating system as unsafe. This meant that with a Pantomime planned for
January 2010 that a new system was required urgently should the society wish to put on
the event in the Palladium. The decision was taken to accept an interest free loan over 3
years which would allow for an immediate replacement of the heating system. This was
carried and and completed the day before the final dress reharsal for the successful
Treasure Island pantomime in January 2010. Also completed by this date were a redesign
and to the layout of the Entrances and Main Lounge/Bar area now known as the "Theatre Bar"
. The Bar is available for hire individually for private/public functions (suitable for
upto around 40 persons) or along with the main hall, stage and balcony (suitable for
upto 500 though generally limited to 360.
The main hall can be used with no seating, upto 200 stalls seating or 120 cabaret /
banqueting style seating. The Balcony accommodates generally upto 160.
The hall has had some renovation and redocoration as has the back stage area. The next
phase is ongoing to add heating to down stairs and redesign the wardrobe areas and change
rooms. The building has taken a great effort to be made water tight - which with the
exception of the roof has been successful. With high winds roof tiles often need
replacing hence the need for a new roof. Recent improvements mean tile replacement is
less costly than previously, but our ideal is a replacement roof to negate the need.
Update: October 2013
The Wardrobe/Changeroom areas are midway through their redesign/reorganisation -
The Kitchen has been decorated and refurbished (downstairs).
We hope to restore Cinema to the theatre if we get enough support sometime over the next year -
sooner rather than later hopefully.
Update: June 2014
The new Projectors have been tested - we need to get the screen sorted so it can be raised/lowered at will.
The Studio is nearly finished as are the roof repairs following the February storms.
The next major refurbishment is planned to be the downstairs rehearsal room - this is due to start shortly.
You may also notice some refurbishment of the internal stairway to the Balcony.
Our thanks to Ken, Paul and Barry and the others who have helped.
Update: October 2014/April 2015
The Millom Cinema Club is up and running with its official launch in February.
The Sound Studio is finished, as is the refurbishment of the Rehearsal room.
By the Boxing on the 18th October 2014 the New Change room and Storage facility will be complete.
The New wardrobe area is stocked with freshly laundered Costumes ready to be used or hired out - with only a few costume left to complete.
Also a new Side Door towards Palladium gardens.
There are other developments/improvements in the pipeline - so watch out for the changes.
New floors and Toilets are now in place in the old dressing rooms with heating shortly to follow.
If you can help us fill in the blanks in the Palladium or MAOS history please get in touch.