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 12 comments)

KEITHSELBY
KEITHSELBY on October 10, 2011 at 11:56 pm

This was my favourite cinema in the sixties. I thought it held 1,500 or so, but I may be wrong.It was the first full-time cinema in the town, having shown films part of the time since 1908; the towns first purpose-built cinema was the Palace ( oringinally Electric Picture Palace ) in the square.

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on October 11, 2011 at 12:51 am

The Imperial Seated 1021… May have lost 20 seats when the new act came out regarding the distance from the screen. Top of the screen cannot be more then 30% degrees higher the normal vision in the front row.. Being the first full-time built Cinema could be the Classic in Stafford street, Which Pat Collins had for a time. then passed to Clifton. I am looking at family papers to check…

KEITHSELBY
KEITHSELBY on January 23, 2012 at 2:26 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 3:32 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 12:05 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 10:12 am

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 4:56 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 2:51 am

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

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on November 28, 2013 at 5:51 am

Hmm SNAP!! Stuart So am I

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on November 28, 2013 at 10:20 am

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..

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