Garston Empire Theatre

James Street,
Liverpool, L19 2LS

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Garston Empire Theatre

The Garston Empire Theatre in the Garston suburb of Liverpool, opened on 5th June 1915, three years after the scheme was first proposed. It appears that the plans, there were several, were adaptations of the initial design, and were collectively the work of several architects. It was constructed by R. Costain and Son at a cost of £7,500 which included the site!

The Garston Empire Theatre seated 1,040. Of these almost 700 were in the stalls and pit, 336 in the single balcony and the remainder were in the two private boxes, one either side of the stage at balcony level. The stage had a high arched proscenium of approximately 30 feet width, behind which was a fully equipped stage of approx 35 feet depth. There was an orchestra pit and 8 dressing rooms. The auditorium was embellished with deep Edwardian plasterwork and the foyers were dressed in marble.

From the start films formed part of the variety entertainment. These were dropped in 1916 when live entertainment in the form of plays began a season. This was followed by revues until the end of August 1918 when the Garston Empire Theatre was turned over to films only.

Western Electric sound was installed and the first talkie was “Gold Diggers of Broadway” on 16th June 1930. On 8th December 1962 the projectors rolled for the final time with “Jailhouse Rock”, supported by “The Fasted Gun Alive”.

The Garston Empire Theatre then began a 46 year period as a bingo hall which ceased in 2009. The building is likely to be demolished in the near future.

Contributed by Ian Grundy

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

Philip Picturedrome
Philip Picturedrome on July 28, 2010 at 2:20 am

The first plans were drawn up by Cecil Masey (of Granada cinemas fame).
When built it was credited to Joseph Pearce, but still looks substantially like Masey’s design.
A pity it’s so ugly on the outside.

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