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
Ian on March 3, 2011 at 10:55 pm

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

http://www.flickr.com/photos/stagedoor/5496589512/

ritzman
ritzman on January 18, 2014 at 7:04 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
curmudgeon on January 19, 2014 at 4:42 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
ritzman on June 1, 2014 at 9:13 am

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
ritzman on June 1, 2014 at 11:52 am

New photo added taken in 1931 1 year after opening

ritzman
ritzman on June 18, 2014 at 11:42 pm

Newspaper advert for the Empire added in photo section

ritzman
ritzman on November 1, 2014 at 6:11 am

New photo added 01/08/1930

ritzman
ritzman on May 19, 2015 at 6:35 am

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

ritzman
ritzman on July 23, 2015 at 11:53 am

The Empire has been sold by the church who currently own & occupy the building. Read the story here: http://www.gethampshire.co.uk/news/local-news/iconic-kings-centre-sold-property-9716600#ICID=FB-Hamps-main

ritzman
ritzman on July 31, 2015 at 12:29 pm

I would just like to say that I wrote the original entry for this cinema and also uploaded all the photographs-however, I am not responsible for the ‘update’ made today in the main text concerning the future of the Empire. Perhaps who ever made the changes could verify the scource of that information?

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