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Opened in May 1915 as a purpose-built cinema with 450 seats, it added live entertainment to the bill early on. By 1927 it was operated by the Tozer & Linsell Circuit. It was rejuvenated in the 1930’s, scrapping live shows from the bill and concentrating purely on films.
At the start of the 1950’s, the Empire Cinema was bought by Ken and Harry Foulconbridge, and it received a make-over in 1951 that remains to this day. Again, the theatre closed in 1971 due to dwindling admissions.
On 27th November 1978, following the formation of the Halstead Empire Theatre Trust, the cinema re-opened once again with Robert Powell starring in “The Thirty Nine Steps”. It continued to regularly show movies (as well as live shows) through the 1980’s, 1990’s and the start of this decade.
Sadly, slumping admissions once again, plus the opening of a nearby multiplex, caused the cinema to cease screening films in July 2005. The Empire Theatre remains open as a live entertainment venue, but films were re-introduced on an occasional basis in April 2017.
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