The Scala, situated at John's Street, is a historic gem that has been transformed into a cutting-edge music venue.
With its rich history, The Scala promises an intimate and enchanting setting for performances of the best of contemporary music.
The Scala boasts state-of-the-art sound systems and a captivating ambience that guarantees an immersive and unforgettable experience.
The Scala in Merthyr Tydfil, formerly known as the Temperance Hall, boasts a storied history deeply intertwined with the cultural and social fabric of the town. Its origins trace back to the mid-19th century when it was constructed as Merthyr's first purpose-built public meeting place. The Merthyr Temperance Society, aiming to provide "instruction and amusement for the masses of the people," erected the hall in September 1852. This marked the era of the Temperance Movement, which initially began as a commitment to abstain from spirits and later evolved into teetotalism, advocating total abstinence from all alcoholic beverages.
The original Temperance Hall was relatively modest, with dimensions of approximately 80 feet by 40 feet, featuring a 12-foot-wide platform and a capacity for 100-150 people. However, in 1873, the hall underwent significant enlargement, expanding to accommodate up to 4,000 attendees. It soon became the primary theatre in Merthyr, hosting a wide array of performances, including musicals, Shakespearean plays, and marionette spectacles. Beyond entertainment, the Temperance Hall served as a venue for lectures, religious gatherings, and political meetings, including a pivotal meeting in 1872 led by Rose Mary Crawshay, a prominent figure in the Women's Suffrage Movement and the wife of Robert Thompson Crawshay - the last of the great Merthyr Tydfil ironmasters.
Over time, the Temperance Hall transitioned into a music hall and variety theatre, and by 1914, it had embraced cinema, becoming an early cinema conversion. In 1927, it proudly declared itself as "the only live theatre in the town." Renovations in 1930 enhanced its comfort, and in 1939, Israel Price, a legendary theatre manager in South Wales, took over its management. During World War II, the hall primarily functioned as a cinema, but in the post-war years, it reverted to hosting live theatre performances, including a repertory season in 1948.
By 1980, the theatre had evolved into the Scala Cinema, with a seating capacity of 480 under the ownership of Dene Cinema Enterprises Ltd. However, the cinema eventually closed in the early 1980s. In 1985, the building found new life as a bar and snooker club, evolving to meet the changing needs and preferences of Merthyr Tydfil's residents.
The Scala's history as the Temperance Hall showcases its resilience and adaptability over the years, reflecting the evolving tastes and interests of the community it has served for generations.
Photos courtesy of http://www.alangeorge.co.uk/index.htm