10 New Road,
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The Empire Theatre opened on 26th December 1908 as a 1,300 seat music hall theatre with some film use. It was designed by noted theatre architect Bertie Crewe. The facade had a red brick with white stone facings and the auditorium ran parallel to New Road, with the entrance on the right, southernmost end of the building. Initially it was not one of the major music halls, not being part of the mighty Stoll/Moss circuit, but it attracted many star turns to this north London district. It’s main claim to fame during these early days is the collapse on-stage of famous music hall star Marie Lloyd in 1922. She died a few days later.
It was also in 1922 (September) that the Empire Theatre was leased to Sydney L. Bernstein, who at that time was begining to build up his chain of cinemas, which later became the Granada Theatres chain. At the end of March 1927, the Empire Theatre was closed for a re-decoration carried out by the noted set designer Theodore Komisarjevsky. The building was now owned by Denman Cinemas Ltd, who were a subsidairy of Gaumont British Theatres Ltd. It re-opened on 18th April 1927 as a full time cinema, still named Empire Theatre. It was equipped with a Christie 2Manual theatre organ which was opened by Bruce Wendell. The Empire Theatre closed in January 1933 for a total modernisation of the interior.
Architect Cecil Masey was put in charge of the planning and again Theodore Komisarjevsky did the interior design, this time in an Art Moderne style which was based on the Dutch cubism style known as ‘Die Stijl’. The exterior remained in its Neo-Classical style, with the addition of a new entrance and new stage house with additional dressing rooms. Seating was now provided for 1,165 in the stalls 677 in the circle. The Christie organ had been removed and it was replaced by a Wurlitzer 3Manual/10Rank organ which had a Grand Piano attached. This instument was opened by American organist Don Baker. The Empire Theatre re-opened on 28th August 1933 with film stars Jessie Mathews and Sony Hale attending in person.
Still under the ownership of Denham/Gaumont, but leased to Granada Theatres it was re-named Granada from 11th December 1950 and was fully acquired by Granada Theatres Ltd. from April 1965. Live stage shows were still occasionally held here especially on Friday evenings which was ‘Amateur Night’, but film performances became the mainstay of the programming. The Granada closed on 13th July 1968 with Christopher Lee in “The Devil Rides Out” and Martine Beswick in “Slave Girls”. The building was converted into a Granada Bingo Club, but this was only moderately successful and lasted one year, closing on 27th July 1969.
The building was taken over by the local authority for re-developement and was demolished in February 1970. The re-developement never happened and the land lays unused today. Laying close to the Edmonton Shopping Centre at Edmonton Green, Lower Edmonton (if you know where to look) there were still a few bricks in situ along the edge of the pavement which were the lower part of the front wall of the Empire Theatre. The Wurlitzer organ is now installed in the St Albans Organ Theatre, St Albans, Hertfordshire, where it is played regularly.
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