Imperial Cinema

Darwall Street,
Walsall, WS1 1DA

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Imperial Cinema

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Originally built as the Agricultural Hall in 1868, it was given a new facade and opened as St. George’s Hall in 1887. It became the Imperial Theatre in 1899. The Imperial Picture House opened on 1st January 1910, the frontage was altered to the plans of architect Archibald Hurley Robinson.

The Imperial Picture House was taken over by Associated British Cinemas(ABC) in 1936. Apart from the installation of sound and later CinemaScope, the building was never altered. The Imperial Cinema closed on 4th May 1968 with a double-bill programme; Stephen Boyd in “Assignment K” and Lee Marvin in “Cat Ballou”.

It was converted into an Alpha Bingo Club which opened on 23rd May 1969. The bingo club closed in around 1996, by then operated by Gala Bingo. It re-opened in March 1997 as ‘The Imperial’, one of the J. D. Wetherspoon chain of pubs.

Contributed by Lost Memory, Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 14 comments)

KEITHSELBY
KEITHSELBY on January 23, 2012 at 4:26 am

Hello, Mike,The first purpose built cinema in Walsall was the (Electric) Palace in the Square which opened in April 1910. The Cinema de Luxe, later Classic, opened in 1912, I think. I can soon verify this, as I am researching the history of Walasll cinemas in my spare time.

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on January 23, 2012 at 5:32 am

Hi Keith You are correct… I live in Walsall and my family had interests in the Walsall Theatre Company known as WTC.. The Palace had a sign on the side of building “The Palace Electric Thatre” Home of Moving Talking Films… Hmm Giving my age away…

KEITHSELBY
KEITHSELBY on January 24, 2012 at 2:05 am

Mike, hello, the deLuxe opened in December 1912. There is an artists sketch of the Palace as originally built in the Wasall Advertiser of april !2 (I think) 1910 and a pretty building it was, with a single storey lobby surmounted by a dome and a statue of Electra! Apparently, in the first days, “singing pictures” were shown. Now, I know that various unsuccessful means of adding sound to pictures were around from long before 1927 and I wonder if this was one of them? During the switch over to sound, I have found an ad. in which the Palace boasts “real live people” will provide songe to accompany the fims. With your family connection to WTC, I wonder what other gems of information lie at your disposal? By the way, The Palace had closed before I came to live in Walsall and I only remember it as part of the Observer works. It closed when I was seven, so you can do the maths!

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on September 23, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Some pictures of the the theater in its current role as a pub can be seen here, here, and here.

harvey81
harvey81 on October 21, 2012 at 7:56 am

hi mike just a question for you im a manager for jd wetherspoons and i work in the imperial and im looking for some old pictures of inside of the imperial to put on display for the customers would you be able to help?? my email address is

WalsallLocalHistoryCentre
WalsallLocalHistoryCentre on November 28, 2013 at 4:51 am

I am doing a history of the Hall. I will post it when complete.

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on November 28, 2013 at 7:51 am

Hmm SNAP!! Stuart So am I

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on November 28, 2013 at 12:20 pm

The Theatre did open in 1868… I beleive there was a mix up in the date due to an earlier theatre in “The Square”. which was still standing when I was a child..

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on September 30, 2014 at 5:51 am

I think I have found an error.. Hmm using other sources It looks as though Archibald Hurley Robinson had no had if the Major change for Sound films or the current frontage. This was based theory was based on the “Rookery Cinema” Handsworth Birmingham which is credited as an Hurley Robinson design by the experts.. The Architect that should be credited should be the local firm of “Hickton and Falmer” That did other work for the Walsall Theatre Company.. At the same time calls into question the Rookery Cinema. which could have been one of the lost Hickton and Falmer designs..

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on September 30, 2014 at 5:59 am

In 1898 ish.. The Walsall Theatre Company had planned a brand new Theatre on the Imperial Site. which involved taking over extra land to the left. The Walsall Council it seems offered the land that was earmarked but never used for the new Walsall Townhall. So they Built the Spectacular “Her Majesties Theatre” on Townend Bank..

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