Chorley Empire Cinema at Chorley Theatre
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Chorley Theatre (Official)
Previously operated by: Snape & Ward
Previous Names: Empire Electric Theatre, Empire Cinema, Chorley Little Theatre, Chorley Theatre
Located in Chorley, Lancashire, now part of north Greater Manchester and south of Preston. The Empire Electric Theatre opened, as the town’s first purpose-built cinema, on 3rd September 1910. It had a 26ft wide proscenium. In 1912 Archie Hooley began his connection with the cinema business at the Empire Electric Theatre. By 1927 it had been re-named Empire Cinema and by 1930 it was equipped with a Western Electric(WE) sound system and was operated by the Perfecto Filmograph Co. Ltd. By 1939 it was operated by the Snape & Ward chain. According to the Kine Year Books, in 1940 the seating was for 800, while by 1952 it had been reduced to 679 (still a far cry from today’s 236 seats!). 3D films were shown in the early-1950’s. Archie had died in 1944; his son Selwyn closed the cinema in 1957, apparently “because of the taxes” [presumably Entertainments Tax, charged on ticket sales].
Wrestling took over for a while before Chorley Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society (CADOS) acquired the building and renamed it the Chorley Little Theatre. Since 1960 CADOS have been putting on high-quality productions, presenting at least six productions per season (from September to July). It is also the home of the award-winning Chorley Youth Theatre who meet every Saturday, putting on shows throughout the year; and Chorley Empire Community Cinema who present the cinema experience on their 21ft wide screen with 8-Speaker Surround Sound. Run entirely by volunteers the theatre has state-of-the-art sound systems and a full range of lighting equipment. There are two spacious dressing rooms, space for costumes and props and the Empire Bar. The building has disabled access throughout the public area, including a toilet, and the auditorium is fitted with a hearing loop. There are three spaces for wheelchairs in the auditorium. It was re-named Chorley Empire Cinema at Chorley Theatre in October 2019 and films are still part of the programming.
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