Swansea’s Palace Theatre has suffered a suspected arson attack, leaving a question mark over its future viability as a performance venue.
Firefighters were called to the derelict grade II-listed building on September 8 after smoke was sighted emitting from the ground and fourth-floor windows.
Wales Online reported the firefighters had extinguished four small fires in Wales’ oldest theatre.
The theatre is one of many to have experienced arson attacks in recent years, including the Derby Hippodrome and the Broadway Theatre in Peterborough.
The Palace Theatre is currently on the Theatres Trust Theatres at Risk Register and the fire raises concerns over its potential as a venue.
Theatres Trust architecture adviser Claire Appleby said: “We were saddened to hear of suspected arson at the grade II Swansea Palace Theatre, currently on our Theatres at Risk register. The former music hall and Blitz survivor has lain vacant since 2006. It is in a poor state of repair and extremely vulnerable.”
She added: “In the past few years its future has started to look more positive, with early-stage plans for a mixed-use redevelopment emerging. This had provided hope that a viable solution, which includes community use and preserves the main body of the auditorium, could be found. We wait to see the full extent of the fire damage at the Palace and can only hope the historic theatre remains structurally sound.”
News of the fire comes as it was announced this month that courts in England and Wales will now consider the full impact of criminal damage on heritage buildings, including theatres, when sentencing offenders.