Empire Cinema

10-12 Grainger Street West,
Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 5RE

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Associated British Cinemas Ltd., Moss Empires Ltd.

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Empire Cinema

In Newcastle upon Tyne city centre, the Empire Cinema was a converted shop, formerly the premises of Dunn and Dick, jewellers. It was built by Moss Empires Ltd., who owned the adjacent Empire Palace Theatre (1890-1963). Special tickets were available to those who wished to move between the cinema and the theatre, and there were “sumptuous” tea rooms, run by Tilley’s. There was also a smokers' lounge.

The Empire Cinema opened on Wednesday 2nd April 1913 with “A Strong Man’s Love”, five other films and Gaumont Graphic News. After the opening night, performances were continuous, from 2pm to 10pm. Seating was provided for 614 (456 stalls, 158 circle and 15 standing).

In 1927 the Empire Cinema was taken over by Favourite Cinemas Ltd. (later part of Associated British Cinemas(ABC) chain and one of the cafés became a ‘dance room’ for a brief period. Talkies arrived on 3rd February 1930 with “The Informer”, starring Lya de Putti.

In October 1931 the Empire Cinema was re-seated, re-carpeted and redecorated, but at the beginning of November 1933 its closure was announced. The lease was due to expire and ABC was not interested in renewing it. The final show was “The Keyhole”, starring Kay Francis and George Brent, on 11th November 1933.

The building became a furniture shop. In 1969, its site became the entrance to the Newgate Shopping Centre. (Which, in 2017-18, was itself replaced, by a £100m hotel, student accommodation and shopping complex).

Contributed by David Simpson
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