Empire Theatre

Waterloo Street,
Oldham, OL1

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Empire Theatre 1950

The Empire Theatre was opened on 19th October 1897. Originally presenting stage plays with actor’s such as Sir Henry Irving appearing, and opera by the Carl Rosa Opera Company. It became a variety theatre from 28th December 1908. Top names in music hall then appeared here, including Ellen Terry, Albert Chevalier, George Robey, Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel. From 1911 it operated as a silent cinema. In August 1920 an organ was installed to accompany the silent films, which was played by organist William Lawton. Big films over the years were “Ben Hur”, “Disraeli”, “Grand Hotel” and “All Quiet on the Western Front”. A British Thomson Houston(BTH) sound system was installed in August 1930 and the Empire Theatre was taken over by the H.D. Moorhouse Circuit.

It continued for many years with cine-variety programmes. The Empire Theatre was closed on 31st August 1969 with the 1962 film “Tender is the Night” starring Jennifer Jones. The building then lay empty and unused and gradually rotting away. It was purchased in the late-1970’s by a property developer who had plans to build shops and offices and a car park on the site. The Empire Theatre was demolished in February 1981, with just the lower sections of the outer walls surving. Around 200, the site was redeveloped and a Liquid/Envy nightclub now stands on the site.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 1 comments)

000Mark000
000Mark000 on November 27, 2016 at 6:08 pm

To correct your write-up slightly Ken…

The empire was almost completely demolished in 1981, however the lower 1 metre of the perimeter wall remained and it was possible to look over it into what where the stalls of the theatre which were substantially below ground level. It was possible to make out features of the layout, such as stairwells, stage area and internal walls. The remains of the theatre stayed this way until circa 2000, when the site was redeveloped as the Liquid & Envy nightclub.

It was never paved over and used as a parking lot!

Google Maps, location: https://www.google.com/maps/Proctor’s Theatre.54179,-2.1088915,134m/data=!3m1!1e3

Google Maps, streetview: https://www.google.com/maps/Proctor’s Theatre.5419146,-2.1086768,3a,75y,238.98h,78.09t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sxYQCqVClo-rnFDpxDm63Jg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

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