35 High Street,
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The Empire Theatre was opened on 22nd December 1910. Presenting a mixture of films and variety it had 800 seats, all on a single floor. It had stage facilities and two dressing rooms. It was owned by Frederick’s Electric Theatres Ltd, a local chain who operated all the cinemas in Grays.
The Empire Theatre and Cinema was closed in July 1941 for re-furbishment, re-opening as a live theatre in September 1941. It was closed in 1942 and was requisitioned by the Ministry of Food as a store for the remainder of World War II.
After the war, it became a greengrocers store, then later a Tesco supermarket. Demolished in the 1960’s, its precise location is where Boots Chemists have their present store. I never saw this theater but heard much about it during the short time I lived in Grays around 1974. I’m told that there is now a marble plaque outside of Boots store which commemorates the theatre.
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