Author Topic: Empire Theatre, Chatham  (Read 172 times)

Smiffy

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Re: Empire Theatre, Chatham
« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2019, 11:00:34 PM »
Nice photo CAT. Who were they and where are they now I wonder?

CAT

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Re: Empire Theatre, Chatham
« Reply #12 on: October 23, 2019, 09:44:14 PM »
The Empire theatre dancers, Chatham c.1952

johnfilmer

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Re: Empire Theatre, Chatham
« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2019, 11:32:21 AM »
I'm pretty certain that I was taken there, probably 1957ish to see Oklahoma. My memory is of a fairly run down place.
However it also reinforces memories of talking to my Grandfather in the 1960s. I now know that he lived above his bakers shop on the High Street, by the junction with Bingley Road at the time of the 1911 Census, and he frequently referred to the Gaiety and its similarity to "The Good Old Days" style of presentation. He also mentioned seeing many famous acts of the day at the Empire. That one became the other makes sense of those conversations.

Smiffy

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Re: Empire Theatre, Chatham
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2019, 08:29:01 PM »
Advertisement for the Christmas 1953 Pantomime. I'm familiar with Arthur English and "Monsewer" Eddie Gray, but not with the leading lady Stella Hartley and can't seem to find any information about her.
 


castle261

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Re: Empire Theatre, Chatham
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2019, 06:37:07 PM »
` Where are the 39 steps `.


I went more to the other Theatre, up Manor Road, then into the `gods`

smiler

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Re: Empire Theatre, Chatham
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2019, 06:17:44 PM »
 I remember seeing the Memory Man here cant remember his name now but sure he had people in the audience asking he questions cos he sure picked the ones he wanted to answer  :)

DaveTheTrain

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Re: Empire Theatre, Chatham
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2019, 10:05:37 PM »
A good point smiffy.  I wonder if the are showing minutes to end of the interval, and thus only showed minutes.  I guess we will not find out.

Smiffy

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Re: Empire Theatre, Chatham
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2019, 09:27:18 PM »
Now you mention the clocks, there seems something odd about them, namely that they only appear to have one hand. Unless the photo was taken at about five to eleven?

DaveTheTrain

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Re: Empire Theatre, Chatham
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2019, 09:24:48 PM »
I like the two clocks built into the proscenium arch.  I wonder if watches were not as commonplace as now, but you still needed to know the time to be able to catch your bus or tram.

stuartwaters

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Re: Empire Theatre, Chatham
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2019, 06:37:08 PM »
Stunning photos Smiffy, thank you so much for posting them..
"I did not say the French would not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Admiral Sir John Jervis, 1st Earl St Vincent.

Smiffy

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Re: Empire Theatre, Chatham
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2019, 04:56:46 PM »
Not quite the same - I wonder what happened to it?


MartinR

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Re: Empire Theatre, Chatham
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2019, 02:20:51 PM »
Is that the "ornamental sailing ship" that's now atop the National Westminster Bank (IIRC)?

Smiffy

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Empire Theatre, Chatham
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2019, 01:52:25 PM »


The Empire cinema has been discussed in another thread so I thought it might be worthwhile starting one about the Empire theatre.
 
Originally the Gaiety Music Hall, it was opened in 1890, had a seating capacity of over 1000, stretched back some 156 ft and was fitted with electric lighting which at the time must have been quite a novelty for many people. There were three bars, a dress circle and a gallery as well as a room where people could retire for a tea or coffee. The total cost was said to have been £15,000. The decor was mainly laid out in blue and gold in the Italian style, everything being superior in quality and much plusher than most people at the time were used to. There was a chairman in front of the orchestra that introduced each act, so the atmosphere was probably similar to that portrayed on the much later "Good Old Days" tv show. The theatre was a great success, lasting for twenty one years until a decision was made by its proprietor, Captain H. E. Davis (former mayor of Gravesend), that a hall built on an even grander scale was needed. So, in 1912 and in partnership with the famous Sir Oswald Stoll, founder of the Royal Variety Performance and proprietor of the London Coliseum, the Empire Theatre was born.
 
The facade of the old Gaiety was retained, but with a large extension to one side and a more splendid and ornate entrance. The building was crowned by a dome with an ornamental sailing ship that would become a well known landmark for many years. Everything was on a much larger scale than the Gaiety, with seating for up to 2,500 people and the decor this time built around a nautical theme. The theatre was frequently filled to capacity and in 1929 even had a sound system installed enabling the showing of the new talking pictures, which helped to boost trade when there were no acts being shown. During the 1940's and into the 1950's it was packed out with nearly all of the major stars of the time appearing, but like so many other theatres of this time audiences were beginning to dwindle. Under a new management other attractions were tried, including a continental style cabaret venue, but it was all to no avail. Eventually, the electricity was cut off for unpaid bills and closure followed on March 31st 1960. The venerable old Empire was sold for redevelopment in 1962 and demolished. The site is now occupied by Anchorage House, an office building so utterly indifferent that most people will pass by without giving it a second glance.
 
Gaiety Theatre 1906


Empire Theatre


Empire Auditorium