J D Wetherspoon is a pub-chain which specialises in cheap food and drink in warm but often cavernous surroundings. Its pubs are open from early morning to late at night: you can get breakfast, lunch and dinner there, and it won’t cost an arm and a leg.
The company was founded by a New Zealand-educated entrepreneur called Tim Martin, who named it after a teacher who said he’d never be a success.
This highly successful enterprise has a fine record in rescuing buildings in distress, one of which is the Palladium Theatre, Llandudno, a 1920 cine-variety theatre by Arthur Hewitt of Great Yarmouth.
According to the Theatres Trust it was probably designed before the First World War soon after Hewitt’s surviving Great Yarmouth buildings, the Gem Cinema (1908, latterly the Windmill Cinema) and the Empire Theatre (1911).
The Llandudno Palladium has an imposing classical façade with twin domed towers and an elaborate thousand-seat interior with two balconies, four boxes beside the proscenium and a further three at the rear of the dress circle. The stage area covers a width of 55 feet and a depth of 32 feet behind a 31-foot-wide proscenium. There were eight dressing rooms for artistes and a café with a 25-foot-diameter circular foyer for patrons.
Almost all of this survived conversion to cinema use, twinning to accommodate bingo in the stalls in 1972, several subsequent changes of ownership and eventual closure in 1999.
In 2001 J D Wetherspoon took it over and converted it into a sumptuous pub venue, restoring the auditorium and filling the commodious stage area with a viewing gallery, from where you can admire the theatricality of it all on your way to the loo.