Dome Buildings, The Square, Richmond

From Historic England entry:

“1. 5028 THE SQUARE

Nos 1 to 6 (consec) including Nos 5A and 6A Dome Buildings TQ 1774 NE 20A/34


2. Mid C19 rectangular building. An advanced central semi-circular element roofed with a dome and lantern and set-back wings to either side. The dome contains an additional storey being lit by pedimented windows. The dome and the lantern are covered by diagonally set metal fish-scale tiles or slates. The Buildings are stuccoed with cornice. Second floor windows and entrance doors are moulded and corniced. Around the central element, and projecting for the width of the principal part, there is a curved modern shop-front. Makes an important contribution to the Richmond townscape.”

From Richmond Local Studies Library and Archive:

“…The lower classes had to wait until 1838 when a small library was opened to serve members of the Richmond Mechanics Institute which met at the Church Rooms, Church Walk. The Reading Room was open every evening between 6 and 10pm with a subscription of 10s per year, ladies and minors 6s a year. Concerts were held at various venues in Richmond. By 1840, it was decided that larger and more convenient premises were needed and a committee was set up to deal with the matter. Queen Victoria – who was the Lady of the Manor – gave a piece of land on an open space known as The Square and which had formerly been the site of the old town pond. The foundation stone at 2 The Square was laid on 26th August 1843. A description of the building was given in the Illustrated London News on 9th September – “The new building…is in the Italian style of architecture, and consists of a theatre, about 40 feet by 27 feet, and is capable of accommodating upwards of 300 persons. On each side of the theatre are rooms 20 feet by 16 feet, intended, the one for a museum, the other the library.” The new building was opened on 11th December 1843. In 1846 the committee issued a report that stated that although a large portion of the debt incurred for the building remained unpaid, they were hopeful that, through the generosity of the patrons, it would soon be cleared. Sadly it seems this did not happen and the Institute came to an end about the beginning of 1849. What happened to the books is not known – some were probably returned to their owners and others were given to the Richmond Young Men’s Society, established in 1851.

The freehold was bought by James Wade in 1851 and in 1854 the Richmond Public Baths and Lavatory Company became the lessees and in 1855 the building had been converted to the public baths – ‘The Baths’ – which remained there until 1867. An upper floor was added and, in 1908, a dome, giving the building its present name of Dome Buildings.”

From the website of Cinema Treasures:

“Located in Richmond upon Thames, Surrey to the southwest of today’s Greater London. Originally built in 1843 as the Mechanics Instutute. The Palais was opened as a cinema in October 1909. It was located in the Dome building on The Quadrant. In 1913, it was known as the Clock Cinema No. 1 (the former Queen’s Hall had become Clock Cinema No. 2). By 1915, it was known as the Empire Cinema. It was closed by 1919.

The Empire Cinema re-opened by 1921, but closed around 1923. It was converted into shop use on the ground floor, with offices above.”

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