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Leisureworks (Official), Derwentside District Council (Official)
Architects: Jos W. Wardle
Functions: Live Performances, Movies (First Run)
Previous Names: Empire Palace
The Empire Palace was built as a live theatre in 1885 to the designs of architect Jos W. Wardle. It became a cine-variety theatre in 1912. The original seating capacity was for 1,160, the proscenium is 26 feet wide, the stage 20 feet deep and there are nine dressing rooms.
In 1920 a new circle was installed to the designs of architect Howard Hill and in 1929 a new projection box was installed when it began use as a full time cinema.
In 1966 it was closed and became a bingo club. Later the local council purchased the building and re-opened it as the Empire Theatre, with a mixed programme of live performances and cinema use. The Empire was fully re-furbished in 2003/2004 and now has a seating capacity of 503.
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Recent comments (view all 3 comments)
An older photo (1998), before the foyer was extended can be seen here:–
The introduction of bingo in May 1966 was part-time and it continued to show films on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays into the 70s. Unfortunately, I have been unable to look at newspaper beyond 1970, so I don’t know how long this continued for.