Old Empress Cinema Burns Down

posted by Stephen Lynch on June 19, 2006 at 5:13 am

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND — According to a report from the Manchester Evening News, the Old Empress Cinema on Oldham Road has burned down:

An investigation is underway into a huge fire that caused the front of an old cinema building in Miles Platting to collapse.

Up to 30 firefighters tackled the blaze at the old Empress Building, Oldham Road.

The first crews from Manchester Central and Philips Park discovered the two-storey building well alight with flames shooting through the roof.

They immediately called for back up and were clear of the building when the front collapsed.

Debris was scattered across two lanes of Oldham Road, which was closed in the direction of Manchester to Oldham.

Note this Cinema was spotlisted as a grade 2 listed building a few years back and the authorities did nothing what-so-ever to secure this small piece of social history. Manchester City Council, Northwest film society, and English hertage all should hang their heads in shame.

So what’s new? Giving a building a listed status in the UK means nothing anymore.

Comments (9)

Ian on June 19, 2006 at 5:58 am

Photo -pre fire here:–

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and here :–

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woody on June 19, 2006 at 6:19 am

another photo here from around 1986, when it was a bingo and social club

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the interior was remarkable intact and had very ornate organ grills

manchester council really doesnt give a toss about its cinema heritage, recent demolitions include the capitol didsbury, rialto salford, ambasador salford and very likely soon the former paramount/odeon in the city centre, all swept away so that really ugly cheap sheds could go up, its my home town and i hate going back there now its lost so much character

Ian on June 19, 2006 at 8:17 am

Agree in principal Woody – but Manchester and Salford are two different authorities. But Manchester undoubtedly does not care about heritage. Nor does Salford!

NativeForestHiller on June 19, 2006 at 9:59 pm

I am from NY. What superb photos & a cherishable theater! The theater should be rebuilt. If this is arson, it is even more devestating. The developers should by no means get their wish!!! Long live the Empress!

Ian on June 20, 2006 at 1:53 am

Found a few more details of the cinema.

From manchestercivic.org.uk:-
A less certain future faces the Empress Electric Theatre on Oldham Road, Miles Platting, which opened in 1912 in the very early days of purpose-built cinemas. Its now somewhat forlorn facade of red Accrington brick harks back to the 19th century, giving it an industrial appearance but with almost castle-like cornice adornments.
Inside the walls are adorned with luxurious French Rococo-style plaster panels. The proscenium and flanking twin organ cases are in a more serious classical vein with paired columns, niches and medallions symbolising music and the performing arts. The organ case embraces dummy organ pipes, as in a church, and vestiges of early cinema organs of this type are now extremely rare. Some years ago the Empress, too, became a bingo hall, and it is now a paint store.

Vikki on June 21, 2006 at 9:59 pm

I’m sorry that the Empress had such a sad end. I’ve just started a Phd on the family that built it and their theatre circuit, and had been looking forward to seeing inside the building. Looks like it’s just going to be photographs and charred rubble for me now…

Jabba1310 on June 21, 2006 at 11:04 pm

We have the same problem in America. As they say…follow the money. That leads toward the “why” of almost any sad situation. At age 35, I hold some more dear some of the buildings in the town where I grew up.
We had an old theatre burn yesterday. The Arcadia, in Dallas Texas. For so many people, all that’s left is a shell of a building, pictures, and memories. Is it true that Holland tries really hard to preserve old buildings? Wish that spirit would drift this way. Hope we all find solutions for common tragedy. Larry Harris, Dallas Texas

sdoerr on July 24, 2006 at 5:43 am

Join the party, here in US listing doesnt do much either

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