20 High Street,
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Previously operated by: County Cinemas, Odeon Theatres Ltd., Rank Organisation
Architects: Harold Seymour Scott
Functions: Banquet Hall, Live Music Venue, Movies
Previous Names: Empire Theatre, Odeon
Located in Aldershot, Hampshire. A classic example of early-1930’s super cinema, built as a cine-variety theatre called the Empire Theatre. It opened on 1st August 1930 with “Alf’s Button”. The proscenium is 40 feet wide. It has a horseshoe shaped balcony, huge stage and once had a Compton 2Manual/6Ranks organ which was opened by organist Percy Fryer. There was a also a restaurant over the main entrance.
It was taken over by the County Cinemas chain in 1930. They were taken over by the Oscar Deutsch chain of Odeon Theatres Ltd. in September 1939. Operated by Circuit Management Association(CMA) in the 1950’s, it was then part of the Rank Organisation and was renamed Odeon on 18th January 1964. The Compton organ was removed in the early-1960’s. The Odeon was closed on 17th October 1981, and it was used as a church, known as the Kings Centre. In the late-2000’s it was threatened with demolition. However, the church moved out in August 2015, and new owners reopened the building as the Aldershot Empire, a mixed use venue which will have wedding facilities, live music and occasional film shows.
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Recent comments (view all 23 comments)
The Empire has been sold by the church who currently own & occupy the building. Read the story here: http://www.gethampshire.co.uk/news/local-news/iconic-kings-centre-sold-property-9716600#ICID=FB-Hamps-main
4 new photos added of the newly reopened & renovated Empire. With new auditorium chandelier in place and testing of the newly installed digital projection system. Great to see new life being breathed into a fantastic early Art Deco cinema. Well-done to the new owners! This beautiful cinema could have been lost to the wreckers ball if the local council had got it’s way.
New photo added showing the early stages of construction with the steel frame being erected.
3 new photos added 1. Original stage with decorative tabs and Compton organ in situ.Original decorative proscenium was altered to accommodate cinemascope in the mid 1950’s 2. Cafe/restaurant with original rattan furniture 3. Newly installed Victoria 8 projector 1971
Further photo uploaded of Picture goer magazine featuring the Empire Aldershot
New photo uploaded of new facia signage. A Korean restaurant is now open in the original cafe/restaurant space on the first floor above the foyer. Excellent to see the Empire thriving in its new role.
The Empire is 86 today! Happy Birthday so glad you are still with us!
There are hopes that a Compton organ can be re installed at the Empire. Sadly not the original Compton from this cinema. An organ has been identified and its owner is keen to get the project up and running as are the owners of the Empire. The pipework will be installed in the original pipe chambers above the stage. If you are interested in helping to achieve this, please contact me on here & I will respond accordingly. If you have carpentry and electrical skills and knowledge that would be an advantage. Hopefully a team of volunteers can be assembled. Many thanks in anticipation.
New photo added – a young Empire usher taking a break
The rear half of the former circle has ben partioned off and incorporated into a new function space.