The history of the building started in 1845 when the Corn Exchange was erected in Yorkersgate by Earl Fitzwilliam. It was a neat stone building, with a cut stone front, four pilasters, Corinthian capitals and a supporting pediment (and if you look closely enough today, some of this original structure is just visible). Although it was erected to be a Corn Exchange, it never really functioned as such and was, believed to be used more as public meeting rooms and as a recruitment/hiring hall.
In 1914 the Corn Exchange became a cinema for the first time and was known as “Exchange Hall”. It was jointly managed along with the Majestic cinema in Norton and, as these were the days of Silent Movies, both had their own Orchestra.
During the 1930’s the cinema enjoyed great success and was further enlarged. Exchange Hall became known as “The Palace Theatre” and talking pictures became available for the first time. Parts of these works are still evident today - including the beautiful terrazzo flooring (the floor of the main café area!) and stained glass windows. The Art Deco style of this period is reflected in the striking design of the stained glass you can still see in the café depicting the Greek god Pan. The other surviving stained glass windows front out onto Yorkersgate as part of the existing Corn Exchange facade although these were not part of the original building.
The 19c Yorkersgate entrance was the main foyer to the cinema, with the box office located just inside the doors and patrons far and wide were led up through the left and right of the foyer into the auditorium also to the right was a sweet and confectionary shop (now a fast food outlet). The stage was built just behind the entrance foyer to take advantage of the already sloping site. The auditorium had a large “stalls” seating area and a “circle” seating area. It too was decorated in a lavish Art Deco style and for many years the cinema entertained the folk of Malton. Queues it is understood for the more popular films and occasions formed all the way down Yorkersgate and all the way up Saville Street.
The cinema was also built as a theatre and it did have limited actor facilities both at the first floor level and under the stage with an actors lounge above the foyer.
As the popularity of the traditional cinema declined, a decision was taken in 1987 to close the doors. With a short period as a bingo hall the original cinema was then divided into two, with the new smaller cinema being developed from the existing circle seating area, and the other part being converted into a ‘street scene’ shopping mall called “The Lanes”. A successful period of 10 years use was enjoyed before both ventures closed during the mid 1990’s…..
That was until 2002 when the cinema was totally refurbished and its doors are now open once more. Next time you visit the cinema – look out for all of those original features!
2003 was also a year of great change with World Wide Shopping Mall deciding to resurrect the shopping mall, the original shopping mall had eighteen individual shops three of which were combined to form the café area. Efforts have been made to preserve as much as possible of the original cinema where circumstances permitted taking it back to its glory, however much was lost during its conversion in the 1980’s. Work is still continuing along the rest of the Shopping Mall with just one or two shops left. Whilst carrying out the refurbishment the workmen had a real glimpse into the past, as the original Art Deco auditorium and the screen is still up there in-situ.