Empire Theatre

Foxoak Street,
Cradley Heath, B64 5DF

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Additional Info

Previous Names: New Theatre Royal, Cradley Opera House

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Located on the High Street in Cradley Heath in the West Midlands. The New Theatre Royal opened on the 11th September, 1893 with “Follies of the Day”. The building was a corrugated iron structure which had a small brick fa├žade. Inside the auditorium stone angels, held the lights each side of the proscenium. In April 1900 it was renamed Cradley Opera House. In January 1902 the first films to be screened in Cradley Heath were presented on the ‘Biograph’. It was given a major refurbishment in the Summer of 1902.

In 1905 it was operating as the Empire Theatre. The Empire Theatre held a Kinematograph Licence from 12th April 1913. Douglas Phelps of Stourbridge, had his films shown there. During World War I, the Empire Theatre was acquired by Walter Williams and in 1916, before the arrival of ‘talkies’, sound was created by a man seated under the screen with a gramophone. The Empire Theatre continued to show films throughout the 1920’s and was equipped with a Celebritone sound system. It was closed on 30th January, 1937, with a screening of “Strike Me Pink” starring Eddie Cantor. The main factor of the closure was the popularity of the nearby Royal Theatre. The building stood disused into World War II, and it is thought it was demolished then. The site where the Empire Theatre was, is now a giant Tesco Supermarket.

Contributed by Brad Law
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