Empire Picture Playhouse

Marine Parade and Marlborough Terrace,
Great Yarmouth, NR30 2EJ

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Ben Jay's Circuit

Architects: Arthur S. Hewitt

Functions: Bar

Styles: Renaissance Revival

Previous Names: Empire Theatre

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Empire Picture Playhouse

Opened on 1st July 1911, the Empire Theatre was designed by architect Arthur S. Hewitt as a purpose-built cinema and the exterior was clad in a vitreous terra-cotta material in a ‘free Renaissance’ style.

Operated as a cinema until the late-1960’s when it switched to bingo. Continued to screen late night shows after the evening bingo session finished and morning cartoon shows between 10am and 1pm during the summer season May to September. Had a short period during the late-1980’s early-1990’s as a full-time cinema again when the ABC Regent closed to become bingo club.

By 2006, it was in use as a nightclub known as Zen, but this closed in September 2008. The building remain mothballed & shuttered until 2021 when it was renovated and reopened as a bar. Most of the original decorative details remain. The Empire Picture Playhouse is a Grade II* Listed building.

Contributed by Russell

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 9, 2006 at 11:28 pm

Another view of the building that I took in 2003:

Ian on August 9, 2007 at 4:49 am

A couple of interior pictures of the Empire here:–

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Ian on October 31, 2012 at 2:11 am

Two more interior photos from 2003:–



Seems there is a chance that the Empire might be restored in the near future, use uncertain.

Ian on October 23, 2018 at 1:24 am

Two exterior photos from September 2018 here – closed but seemingly in OK condition:–



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