Friday, 25 May 2012

Manor Theatre, Exmouth

The Manor Theatre, in the seaside town of Exmouth, Devon, was built in the 1920s or 1930s (the decade varies according to the source) by C. H. Palmer. Originally this was an entertainment venue with a programme of dances, lectures and other kinds of social events. However the venture did not make enough money and the building was later converted into Exmouth's fourth cinema. Was it then that the name changed to Regal Cinema?
In the 1950s the cinema closed down and one part the building was transformed into a dance hall while another one later became a ten pin bowling alley. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the ballroom was taken over by Deneys, who in 1973, transformed the whole building into a nightclub. In 1978 Alan Clarke joined the club as DJ before becoming manager and rebranding it as Samantha's. Under his leadership the nightclub became a popular venue in South West England. However in late 2008 Samantha's closed down and plans were drawn to convert the building into 14 flats. Although these plans were supported in principle, they were put on hold in 2009 because of lack of adequate parking provisions. Three years later the situation has not changed. This means the ghost signs found on the walls of the building, which may well disappear when work gets underway, are still with us for a bit longer.

Half of the original name of the venue still appears on the façade


'Theatre' would have been painted under the arch shown on the picture below but that has completely disappeared. At least two ghost signs appear on the side wall though.

One sign, largely obstructed, was painted horizontally. It reads

Another sign was painted vertically but the letter 'R' is the only one that can be seen properly.

In order to find complete ghost signs, it is necessary to go to Manor Gardens and to look at the back of the building.

Manor Theatre


This last ghost sign must be the most recent one, certainly dating from the 1950s, when the cinema was converted into a ballroom.

Location: St Andrews Road, Exmouth, Devon / Pictures taken in April 2012

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