Quebec Street and Crown Street,
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Firms: Clarke & Mossop
Previous Names: Empire Picture Palace
In the centre of Darlington, County Durham, at the junction of Quebec Street and Crown Street, the Empire Picture Theatre opened on 23rd June 1911. The owners were Standard Electric Theatres, but it was leased to Picton Cinema Company, of Cardiff, prior to opening. Some variety acts were presented. There were 1,200 seats.
In 1913 the cinema was acquired by Darlington Cinematograph Company Ltd.
The ‘talkies’ arrived in August 1929, with a Western Electric(WE) sound system and “The Singing Fool”, starring Al Jolson.
By the late-1930’s, presumably due to fairly major refurbishment, the seating capacity had reduced to 890.
The Empire Cinema was further acquired by Odeon Theatres Ltd. on 7th February 1944, licensed at that time for a total of 970: 765 in the stalls and 205 in the balcony. By 1957 this had reduced to a total of 720.
The Empire Cinema closed on 5th November 1960 by Circuits Management Association(CMA) soon renamed Rank Organisation. The final programme was Jack Hawkins in “League of Gentlemen” & Ruth Dunning in “And Women Shall Weep”. It was demolished in 1973. A Wilko store stands on the site.
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