The Savoy Theatre, Monmouth
Come and enjoy a weekend with us in this beautiful original picture house this July!
Monmouth’s Savoy Theatre stands on the oldest known theatre site in Wales and is also one of the oldest working Welsh theatres. The Bell Inn, which occupied the site from the eighteenth century, put on entertainment. In 1830 the Odd Fellows Society erected the “most commodious hall” in the area for dances, ceremonies, political rallies and their own meetings. In 1832 it was granted an entertainment license and was locally known as the Bell Inn Assembly Rooms.
The first extensive use as a theatre was in 1850/51 when the room was turned into The New Theatre by actor/manager J. F. Rogers. A new building called The Corn Exchange was built on the site in 1865 and, due to the tighter entertainment regulations, the Inn turned into a Temperance Hotel in 1871. Early in the twentieth century it was turned into a roller skating rink and became known as The Rinkeries. By 1910 skating sessions were mixed with short films as cinema became the new vogue. By 1912 Monmouth had several cinemas to cater for the new film craze. By 1914 the Picture Palace, as it was then known, ran a mixture of one reel films and variety acts. In 1926, the building went up for auction, was bought by a major cinema chain, demolished and completely re-built, reopening on March 5th 1928 as the New Picture House. In April 1930 talking pictures arrived and variety succumbed to the golden age of cinema going. The New Picture House became part of the Gaumont British chain in 1929. In 1958 it was bought by B. T. Davis, a cinema chain owner from Birmingham, whose family still own it today.
Re-christened the Regal in 1971, it suffered from declining audiences and closed in the early 80s. In 1995 the theatre re-opened as The Savoy and in 2004, a Trust was formed and £750,000 was obtained to completely refurbish the building. The auditorium was completely returned to its 1928 glory. In 2009 volunteers took over, formed a new Trust and with the intention of restoring high quality live performance alongside new cinema releases. The theatre is now viable, and received a Theatre of the Year award in 2019, a fitting tribute to the many volunteers and small cohort of staff who have helped the wonderful art deco building stay in business.