Empire Cinema

37 Esplanade,
Whitley Bay, NE26 2AL

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Empire Cinema

Located in Whitley Bay, a seaside town to the north of Newcastle upon Tyne, at the corner of Esplanade and Promenade. The Empire Cinema was opened 30th June 1910, and was part of the North of England Cinemas chain. It was designed by architect Henry Gibson (and possibly his partner Pascal Joseph Steinlet).

In 1923, the Empire Cinema was rebuilt to the plans of architectural firm Percy L. Browne & Glover of Newcastle upon Tyne. In 1927 it was taken over by Thomas Thompson. In March 1928, it was taken over by the Gaumont British Theatres chain. Re-named Gaumont from 28th August 1950, it was taken over by an independent operator on 27th November 1960, reverting back to the Empire name. The cinema was closed in 1962.

It was converted into a bingo club which opened in August 1962, and closed in October 1963. It was later a ballroom then Sylvester’s nightclub. In November 2008, the building stood empty and unused, but was demolished in 2009.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

Ian on May 11, 2012 at 11:39 am

The former Gaumont was demolished several years ago, and in June 2009 the site was still vacant.


JohnGn on February 19, 2013 at 11:20 pm

I would query the statement that it was taken over by an independent. Looking through the local newspaper from that time, I can find no evidence that it saw any further use as a cinema after Rank closed it. Latterly, it showed the National release, but subsequently, National releases were spread among the other three cinemas in the town. As a child, I recall seeing the Hammer version of “The Hound of the Baskervilles” at this cinema.

Ian on March 16, 2013 at 1:48 am

Another view of the former Empire here (c1994)


nic1946 on August 6, 2014 at 4:51 am

I used to go to this cinema when I lived in the town, it was the first projection box I was shown, amazing!. Memories of this Gaumont are the house lights, no dimmers just switched on or off, the same with the dressing on the tabs, side spotlights on or off. The stage was more of a shelf, very small, scope was as wide as the proscenium and the tabs had wires on the bottom to clear the screen, on some shows the doorman would appear with a long stick and poke them back into the small space provided. Later a festoon was added which I think came from the Gaumont, Newcastle. Top Rank records were played in the intermission and timed to perfection when the feature started. What ever happened to presentation!.

terry on November 12, 2019 at 1:16 pm

Photo uploaded of FOH prior to change of name to Gaumont circa 1950.

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