The theatre was originally built for the Watford Hippodrome Co., Ltd. The foundation stone of what was to become the Palace Theatre was laid on 3 June 1908. Five days later Mr H.M. Theobald, the architect, lodged the notification of his intention to build the theatre. Construction was undertaken by Barker Brothers of Maidenhead, and took six months, opening on 14 December 1908. The opening proprietors were the Watford Palace of Varieties Co., the Managing Director: Mr. T.M. Sylvester.
In early days it put on variety shows and plays, mostly imported from other theatres. Variety artists who appeared at the Palace included Marie Lloyd, Evie Greene and Lottie Lennox. The theatre also puts on regular Christmas pantomimes.
In September 2004 the theatre re-opened after a two year £8.8million Lottery funded refurbishment, which included more public space, two bars, a daytime café, air cooling and new seating. Access to the building was improved by the introduction of a lift to all levels, ramps and automated front doors.
In October 2015, the theatre won the Promotion of Diversity Award (joint winners with Leicester Curve) at the UK Theatre Awards 2015.
The Harry Potter film series made Leavesden its home for more than ten years. As the books were still being released while the films were being made, the production crew saved many of the iconic sets, props and costumes that were created especially for the films - just in case they were ever needed later on in the series.
Once filming wrapped on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 in 2010, the production crew were left with a treasure trove of thousands of intricate and beautifully-made artefacts, many of which wouldn't have been saved on a typical production.
The team behind Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter wanted to preserve and showcase these iconic props, costumes and sets so that Harry Potter fans could experience the magic of filmmaking first-hand. Many of the original cast and crew returned to reassemble the sets and record their memories from filming, and on 31st March 2012, the Studio Tour opened its doors.
Set adjacent to the working film studios where all eight Harry Potter films were made, the Studio Tour offers visitors the unique opportunity to explore two soundstages and a backlot filled with original sets, animatronic creatures and breathtaking special effects.
Cassiobury Park is the principal public park in Watford, Hertfordshire, in England. It was created in 1909 from the purchase by Watford Borough Council of part of the estate of the Earls of Essex around Cassiobury House which was subsequently demolished in 1927. It comprises over 190 acres (0.77 km2) and extends from the A412 Rickmansworth Road in the east to the Grand Union Canal in the west, and lies to the south of the Watford suburb of Cassiobury, which was also created from the estate. The western part is a 25.1 hectare Local Nature Reserve managed by the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust.
Watford Colosseum is a 1,309 seat venue in the heart of Watford and is home to the best live music and entertainment outside London.
Watford Colosseum was built in 1938 as the Watford Town Hall Assembly Rooms to the design of architect Charles Cowles-Voysey and acoustician Hope Bagenal. Bagenal’s other acoustic projects include the refurbishment of the Royal Albert Hall and the construction of the Royal Festival Hall.
Watford’s premier concert venue is world renowned for its acoustic qualities. Julian Lloyd Webberdescribed Watford Colosseum as “the finest recording venue in the world” and it has been used to record the soundtracks of Lord of the Rings, The Sound of Music and Star Wars. In 1995, Pavarotti came to Watford Colosseum to record Verdi’s Inno delle Nazioni with the Philharmonia Chorus. More recently, recordings from BBC Concert Orchestra have taken place in the auditorium.
The acoustics were analysed by an acoustics company in 2009, who reported that the size and "shoebox" shape of the hall, the flat floor, and the materials used in construction, allow for pleasant reverberation and good sound quality and clarity, such to make the hall among the best in Europe.
The stage at Watford Colosseum has seen performances from Elton John, The Faces (including Ronnie Wood and Rod Stewart), Genesis (with drummer Phil Collins), Marc Bolan, Jeff Lynne’s Electric Light Orchestra, One Direction, Robbie Williams, Jools Holland, Melanie C, Oasis and many, many more.
Watford Colosseum is also home to its famous Compton organ which was fully refurbished by Watford Borough Council during the refurbishment of the building.
Watford Colosseum is owned by Watford Borough Council and managed by HQ Theatres & Hospitality, the UK’s second largest theatre operator. HQ Theatres parent company is Qdos Entertainment one of the UK’s biggest, broad-based entertainment groups in the UK
Shop till you drop
Watford is a major regional centre for the northern home counties. It is the most westerly of these commercial centres and the only one in Hertfordshire. Hertfordshire County Council designates Watford and Stevenage to be its major sub-regional centres, heading its list of preferred sites for retail development. The High Street is the main focus of activity at night having a high concentration of the town's bars, clubs and restaurants. The primary shopping area is the Harlequin Shopping Centre, a large purpose-built indoor mall with over 140 shops, restaurants and cafes built during the 1990s, opened officially in June 1992. The owners of the shopping centre, Capital Shopping Centres, rebranded all their shopping centres, resulting in The Harlequin changing name to intu Watford Shopping Centre from May 2013.
The town contains the head offices of a number of national companies such as J D Wetherspoon, Camelot Group, Mothercare, Bathstore, and Caversham Finance (BrightHouse). Watford is also the UK base of various multi-nationals including Hilton Worldwide, Total Oil, TK Maxx, Costco, JJ Kavanagh and Sons, Vinci and Beko.
The town was home to the Scammell Lorries factory from 1922 until 1988. The site is now a residential area. Tandon Motorcycles, founded by Devdutt Tandon, were manufactured in Colne Way from 1947 until 1959.