Empire Picture Playhouse
Marine Parade and Marlborough Terrace,
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Previously operated by: Ben Jay's Circuit
Architects: Arthur S. Hewitt
Styles: Renaissance Revival
Previous Names: Empire Theatre
Opened on 1st July 1911, the Empire Theatre was designed by architect Arthur S. Hewitt as a purpose-built cinema and the exterior was clad in a vitreous terra-cotta material in a ‘free Renaissance’ style.
Operated as a cinema until the late-1960’s when it switched to bingo. Continued to screen late night shows after the evening bingo session finished and morning cartoon shows between 10am and 1pm during the summer season May to September. Had a short period during the late-1980’s early-1990’s as a full-time cinema again when the ABC Regent closed to become bingo club.
By 2006, it was in use as a nightclub known as Zen, but this closed in September 2008. The building remain mothballed & shuttered until 2021 when it was renovated and reopened as a bar. Most of the original decorative details remain. The Empire Picture Playhouse is a Grade II* Listed building.
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