Empress Theatre

Lowlands Road,
Runcorn, WA7

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The Empress Kinema was opened on 26th December 1913, and was the head office of the owners Cheshire County Cinemas. The company run by the Godfrey family had their head office at the rear of the cinema and ran a number of cinemas dotted around Cheshire and Lancashire.

The Empress Kinema had an exterior in the Chinese style. The foyer was small with a paybox on the right as you entered. Opposite was was the balcony staircase. Next to the paybox was a door leading to the small projection room. The equipment consisted of Westar projectors, Peerless lamp houses and Western Electric sound with four-track magnetic. There was also a slide lantern. The Empress Kinema originally had a seating capacity of 1,200, later reduced to 1,088. It had a fully equipped stage and stage house for variety shows, although it was primarily a cinema. A Mr John Forster was a relief projectionist for the circuit. For many years the manager was a Mr John Darlington. He was there at the time of silent films and in those days would stand behind the screen creating sound effects. Films were usually shown just in the evenings with the main feature being screened twice and the supporting film once. There was a children’s matinee on Saturday afternoons. A film showing Trooping the Colour with a soundtrack of the National Anthem was shown at the start of the performance, and for some reason the censor’s certificate was never screened when I was going to the cinema. In the early-1950’s, it was re-named Empress Theatre and with the arrival of Cinemascope, the seating capacity had been reduced to 1,023.

On the 23 June 1973 the Empress Theatre closed, its last feature was Malcolm McDowall in “A Clockwork Orange”. By this time, the seating capacity had been reduced to 923 seats. The Empress Theatre was demolished to make way for road development.

Contributed by David A Ellis, (Picturedrome) Phillip

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

Philip Picturedrome
Philip Picturedrome on July 30, 2010 at 1:59 am

It opened on 26 December 1913, and was closed for alterations on 11 June 1915. The floor was then raked, and a stage and balcony were inserted. It reopened on 16 August 1915.

Philip Picturedrome
Philip Picturedrome on July 30, 2010 at 5:09 am

You should say why you’ve changed the opening date from “about 1920” to “26 Dec 1913”.
A gap of 7 years is quite big.
It’s always best to cover yourself in case your source is wrong.
Regards from Philip.

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