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Oldest car showroom in Wales gets new lease of life as a business centre

Credit: Powys Council

Work to restore a grade II* listed former bicycle and car showroom – the oldest in Wales – and bring it back into use as a business centre has been completed.

A total of £3.1 million has been spent on buying and refurbishing the Art Nouveau and Art Deco style Automobile Palace in the centre of Llandrindod Wells, after Powys County Council secured £1.585 million in funding from the Welsh Government and £550,000 from the UK Government.

The council is now ready to let nine business units which have been upgraded and made more energy efficient thanks to the work of its Property Design Services and Welshpool-based contractor SWG Group.

The Automobile Palace will also continue to be the home of the National Cycle Museum and of Llandrindod Wells Jobcentre.

Credit: Powys Council

Work on the building, which stands at the junction of Temple Street, Spa Road East and Princes Avenue, included:

  • Repairing the unusual white moulded and glazed tiles used for cladding, known as faience.
  • Repairing window and door frames.
  • Adding new roof finishes and insulation.
  • Repairing the 23 stone lion statues on the roof.
  • Repairing and repainting railings.
  • Repairing the stone plinth.
  • Installing new interior fire doors and glazed partitions.
  • Upgrading the fire alarms, heating, ventilation and lighting.
  • Improving and extending the toilet facilities on the ground and first floors.
  • Refitting all the office areas.
  • Adding an insulated brick skin to the gable wall.

“It’s brilliant to see this iconic building in the centre of Llandrindod Wells being brought back into use in a way that we hope will encourage entrepreneurship and innovation,” said Cllr David Selby, Powys County Council’s Cabinet Member for a More Prosperous Powys.

Credit: Powys Council

Cllr Jake Berriman, Cabinet Member for a Connected Powys added: “It’s an important building for the town and county and is of great historical significance. It is listed because of its pioneering use of reinforced concrete and is believed to be the oldest purpose-built car showroom in Wales.”

The Automobile Palace was built between 1906 and 1911 by transport pioneer Tom Norton, who then extended in 1919.

It was initially known as ‘The Palace of Sport’ but the business name was changed from Tom Norton Ltd to The Automobile Palace Ltd in 1925.

Julian Kirkham, director at SWG Group, said: “We were delighted to have the opportunity to help preserve and improve one of the most recognisable buildings in Powys and look forward to working on more projects like this with the county council in the future.”

The funding for the project was secured by the council’s Economic Development and Regeneration Team.