Wolverhampton's Locally Listed Buildings

Former Wood's Palace Cinema

Lichfield Street, Bilston

Listing: Locally listed in 2004.  Former Wood's Palace, opened in 1921.  The architect was Mr. Hurley Robinson and the interior design was by Val Prince.  It presented Renaissance style facade and the front elevation was treated in white faience.  It later became the Odeon and then a bingo hall.  It is now under private ownership and is used for functions.  The front elevation of the building has been altered at ground floor level.  At first floor, including the parapet wall, the design and fabric is largely in tact.

Literature:  Ned Williams, Cinemas of the Black Country, Uralia Press, 1982, p82ff.

Comment:  There used to be a canopy across the entrance, the door on the far right is where a window used to be and a window to the right of that bay has disappeared.  Otherwise the exterior is pretty much as it was.  The building always did have a projecting bay to the left - and there always were shops in it.  Professor Wood's first cinema was on an upper floor of the Town Hall.  From that beginning he had this vast 1,400 seat theatre built.  Hurley Robinson was a Birmingham architect and the builders were Messrs Hickin of Willenhall.  The ECC of Wolverhampton supplied the generators for the projection room but the electric lighting throughout was by Gimble of Leicester. 

Originally Wood's Palace was built to be both a cinema and a theatre and was full equipped with stage and back stage facilities.  But in the event these were never much used.  

Wood's Palace was opened on the 17th November 1921 by Councillor S. Haddock of Bilston UDC.  Thomas Wood, Professor Wood's son, took over what had became a small chain of cinemas on his father's retirement.  He was active in their management though each had its own manager.  Thomas took an active part in civic affairs and became a councillor and Mayor of the Borough of Bilston. Thomas retired in 1936 and leased the whole chain to Cyril Joseph under whom this cinema officially dropped "Wood's" from its title and became The Palace.  But the local people continued to call it Wood's Palace.  Before the Second World War the lease was taken over by the Odeon group and officially the cinema was called the Odeon.  Unofficially it was still called Wood's Palace.  In 1964 film shows stopped and the building became a Top Rank Bingo Club.  It continued as a bingo hall under various ownerships until at some time, probably in the early 1990s, it became a function room.

Now (2005) there are plans, under the Townscape Heritage Initiative, to restore the facade to its original glory, including the font canopy.  This is an important project in the cluster of interesting historic buildings in the immediate area, not least because older residents remember it as an important part of the social life of the community.