Aldershot Empire

20 High Street,
Aldershot, GU11 1DJ

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Inside front

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Located in Aldershot, Hampshire. A classic example of early-1930’s super cinema, built as a cine-variety theatre called the Empire Theatre. It opened on 1st August 1930 with “Alf’s Button”. The proscenium is 40 feet wide. It has a horseshoe shaped balcony, huge stage and once had a Compton 2Manual/6Ranks organ which was opened by organist Percy Fryer. There was a also a restaurant over the main entrance.

It was taken over by the County Cinemas chain in 1930. They were taken over by the Oscar Deutsch chain of Odeon Theatres Ltd. in September 1939. Operated by Circuit Management Association(CMA) in the 1950’s, it was then part of the Rank Organisation and was renamed Odeon on 18th January 1964. The Compton organ was removed in the early-1960’s. The Odeon was closed on 17th October 1981, and it was used as a church, known as the Kings Centre. In the late-2000’s it was threatened with demolition. However, the church moved out in August 2015, and new owners reopened the building as the Aldershot Empire, a mixed use venue which will have wedding facilities, live music and occasional film shows.

Contributed by Mike Luck, Justin Coll

Recent comments (view all 15 comments)

Ian on March 4, 2011 at 12:55 am

Another shot of the stage from the rear stalls here:–

ritzman on January 18, 2014 at 9:04 pm

Looks like the photo was taken soon after closure by Rank in 1983 as all the Odeon signage has been removed from the canopy and frontage. The auditorium side wall also had a red neon Odeon sign above the 4 large windows which was repeated on the other side that faced the Ritz/ABC/Cannon/ABC/Odeon next door. Thanks for posting it Len Gazzard :–)

curmudgeon on January 19, 2014 at 6:42 pm

Strange that a purpose built theatre would be designed with so many side wall windows. How on earth did they darken the auditorium for film presentation?

ritzman on June 1, 2014 at 12:13 pm

The Windows in the side wall were never used. They were always totally blocked in and never had curtains.From inside the auditorium you would never have known there were large Windows.
The Windows only became used when taken over by the Kings Church.

ritzman on June 1, 2014 at 2:52 pm

New photo added taken in 1931 1 year after opening

ritzman on June 19, 2014 at 2:42 am

Newspaper advert for the Empire added in photo section

ritzman on November 1, 2014 at 9:11 am

New photo added 01/08/1930

ritzman on May 19, 2015 at 9:35 am

New photo added:original view all of the auditorium upon opening August 1930

ritzman on July 23, 2015 at 2:53 pm

The Empire has been sold by the church who currently own & occupy the building. Read the story here:

ritzman on November 30, 2015 at 3:40 pm

4 new photos added of the newly reopened & renovated Empire. With new auditorium chandelier in place and testing of the newly installed digital projection system. Great to see new life being breathed into a fantastic early Art Deco cinema. Well-done to the new owners! This beautiful cinema could have been lost to the wreckers ball if the local council had got it’s way.

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