Kingston Empire Theatre

153-157 Clarence Street,
Kingston upon Thames, KT1 1QT

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Kingston Empire Theatre

The Empire Music Hall Theatre opened on 20th October 1910. It was operated by independent theatre owner Clarence Sounes. It was built with a projection box, so that films could be shown as part of the variety programme. The exterior of the building is in an English Renaissance style, with a trim of Portland stone on its edges. The decoration of the auditorium was in a Grecian Renaissance style. The auditorium was severely damaged in a fire in June 1919, and it took a while to rebuild and renovate the auditorium.

In 1930, under new owners Kingshott Theatres, the Empire Theatre was redecorated, and refurbished. Over the years, it hosted many top name acts on its stage, including; Gracie Fields, Jack Hylton, Max Miller, Florrie Forde, Flanagan & Allen, Marie Lloyd, Harry Champion, George Formby, Louis Armstrong, The Western Brothers, George Robey and many others.

The Kingston Empire Theatre was closed on 27th March 1955 with Sonny Jenks in “La Vie Parisienne”. The interior of the theatre was gutted, and a supermarket opened inside the building in November 1956. On 10th July 1997, it opened as a pub in the JD Wetherspoon chain, known as the Kings Tun.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on October 31, 2009 at 10:19 am

Historic photographs, memorabilia and more history here:

Ian on November 1, 2009 at 11:38 am

The remains of the Empire as seen in 2009 here:=

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 2, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Another view of the former Empire Theatre in December 2008:

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 2, 2010 at 4:10 pm

A ‘full-on’ view of the former Empire Theatre:

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on December 2, 2010 at 9:29 pm

What a theatre! Thanks KenRoe.I do enjoy looking at all you get on.I don’t know if folks thank you enough.Have a Merry Christmas.

AdoraKiaOra on December 2, 2010 at 9:30 pm

The building looks very ‘complete’, what is left inside. The foyer areas still very much resemble the foyers areas of a once great theatre.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on December 5, 2010 at 6:07 pm

And it seems to me all the great Theatres are in Europe.

PictureShow on June 3, 2011 at 4:41 am

Let’s not forget Phyllis Dixey and ‘Daily Mirror’s Jane on stage at Kingston in the late 1940s. Eye candy for us war weary chaps in post war Britain. Thanks Empire,you done us proud.

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