Confidential talks over landmark Art Deco building

Councillors held talks in private to discuss a report on a stunning art-deco building in Llandrindod Wells.

The Automobile Palace in Llandrindod Wells.
The Automobile Palace in Llandrindod Wells.

Members of Powys County Council's economy, residents, communities and governance scrutiny committee voted on Monday, July 27, to take the online meeting into confidential session.

There they would receive a report by the portfolio holder for economic development, housing and regulatory services, Councillor James Evans on the Automobile Palace in Llandrindod Wells.

According to Clive Pinney,, the council's monitoring officer and head of legal and democratic services, the item was exempt under category three of the Access to Information Procedure Rules.

Mr Pinney believed that the item should be held in secret as “information relating to the financial or business affairs,” of a person or authority, would be disclosed.

He said: “These factors outweigh the public interest in disclosing this information.”

Powys County Council is one of several occupiers of the building, including the National Cycle Museum, Mid Wales Trunk Road Agency, the Job Centre and a number of independent traders.

Units to rent there very between £3,000 and over £30,000 a year, depending on their size.

The visually stunning Automobile Palace stands out as a fine example of 20th century architecture in the town.

The name of its creator, Tom Norton, is still emblazoned on its frontage, facing out onto the modern-day Fiveways roundabout.


Mr Norton was born in Newtown in 1870, one of 14 children and was a pioneer of cycling and motor vehicles in the county.

He often cycled from Newtown to Llandrindod Wells and was impressed by the large buildings that were going up in the fashionable spa town.

He opened a bike shop in the Old Market Hall on the High Street in 1899, not far from the railway station.

At the turn of the 20th century he turned his attention to motorcycles and cars, becoming an agent for companies such as Singer, Swift, Sunbeam and Daimler.

He was appointed a Ford distributor and sold the first ‘Model T’ in Wales.

In 1911, Norton built but was then called The Palace of Sport at a cost of around £11,000.

The building was designed by architect Wellington Thomas and trading under the name of Tom Norton Ltd, it had a capacity for 80 cars over 11,056-square-feet.

The building has been enlarged to three times its previous size in the same style.

The two-storey building had nine bays, art deco fronting, 22 lions, shields and egg-and-dart moulded cornices.

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