Empire Cinema

Station Road,
Darton, S75 5HT

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Star Cinemas

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In Darton, a large village now in the Metropolitan Borough of Barnsley, on the border with West Yorkshire, it is not known when the Empire Cinema opened, but it is thought to be early 1915. It was owned by Provincial Empires Theatres Ltd., and had about 700 seats. There was one show nightly, with two on Saturday, and a midweek change of programme each Thursday.

There were stage facilities: In 1923 there was a week of variety and farce, although this appears to have been a one-off, as was a performance of “More Good Luck” by the Colliery Players, in March 1931, in aid of the Darton and District old people’s treat fund.

The first ‘talkie’ is not known, but a British Thomson Houston(BTH) sound system was installed in 1931.

The Empire Cinema was acquired by the Leeds based Star Cinemas circuit in January 1952. CinemaScope was installed, opening on 25th April 1955 (film not known).

It is known the Empire Cinema was operating in October 1960, under manager Dennis Hurst, but it is thought to have closed soon afterwards. The final film was a special screening of the 1939 version of “Wuthering Heights”, starring Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon.

The building went into use as an engineering works, then a box factory. It was demolished in 1981.

Contributed by David Simpson
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