Empire Cinema

116 Bury Park Road,
Luton, LU1 1HE

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Associated British Cinemas Ltd., Union Cinema Co. Ltd.

Functions: Mosque

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Empire Cinema

In Luton, Bedfordshire, the Empire Cinema opened on 29th November 1921, with “Three Men in a Boat” starring Lionelle Howard and H. Manning Haynes. The cinema had been adapted from E. L. Barber’s aeroplane propeller factory and had 780 seats. The ceiling was packed with tin foil insulation and the foyer had panelled walls decorated with busts of a King and Queen, Charlie Chaplin, John Bull, Punch and other busts representing comedy and tragedy. The proscenium was decorated with Japanese designs and included concealed lighting behind tinted glass. In 1926 the cinema got into trouble with the authorities when “The Two Little Vagabonds” made in 1903 but still only suitable for adults, was shown during a Saturday children’s matinee.

In 1927 the cinema was enlarged and in 1928 it was sold to the Southan Morris circuit. In 1933 it was taken over by Union Cinemas chain, and in October 1937 it was taken over by Associated British Cinemas(ABC), but then closed on 15th October 1938. It was re-acquired by Southan Morris, but never re-opened. At some stage it became a synagogue, and is now the Masjid Al-Ghurabaa mosque.

Contributed by David Simpson
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