Woolwich Empire Theatre

Beresford Street,
London, SE18

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Additional Info

Architects: Edward Clark, Frank Matcham

Firms: Frank Matcham & Company

Styles: French Renaissance

Previous Names: West Kent Theatre, Theatre Royal, Barnard's Theatre

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Woolwich Empire Theatre

Located in the southeast London district of Woolwich. The West Kent Theatre was opened in 1835. It was re-named Duchess of Kent’s Theatre in 1837, and was altered in 1880. Altered again in 1882 to the plans of architect Edward Clark it was briefly known as the Theatre Royal. It was re-named Barnard’s Theatre in 1892. In 1900, it was rebuilt to the plans of noted theatre architect Frank Matcham.

Seating was provided for 750 in the orchestra stalls, 300 in the balcony and 400 in the gallery. There were two boxes on each side of the proscenium at balcony level. The proscenium was 26 feet wide and there were five dressing rooms. As a variety theatre, films were screened as part of the programme.

It was re-named Empire Theatre in the late-1920’s. It was closed for a period during the early-1940’s, when World War II was underway. Into the 1950’s, it gradually went over to staging nude shows, and was closed in 1958. The Empire Theatre was demolished in 1960.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on May 26, 2010 at 12:44 pm

More history and details, plus vintage photographs and memorabilia here:
View link

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on May 26, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Ah yes, those WERE the days! Thanks Ken. This brought back many happy memories of English “Music Hall Variety” at the Grand Theatre in my childhood hometown of Southampton.

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