Travelled from Dover despite of weather. Easy to find and plenty of relatively cheap parking in the... read more
Hi, Patricia. I had to look this up, as I didn't know the history of the Central Theatre, but it turns out the Empire Theatre in Chatham was a different place altogether and is now, sadly, demolished. I attach the notes I... More
Hi, Patricia. I had to look this up, as I didn't know the history of the Central Theatre, but it turns out the Empire Theatre in Chatham was a different place altogether and is now, sadly, demolished. I attach the notes I found which might interest you. Best wishes, Michael The Empire Theatre, 49 High Street, Chatham, Kent (Formerly - The Gaiety Music Hall / Gaiety Theatre) The Empire Theatre was built on the site of the former Gaiety Music Hall on the High Street, Chatham. The Theatre was designed for Oswald Stoll as a variety house by the renowned Theatre Architect, Frank Matcham, and opened on the 18th of March 1912. The exterior was designed in a nautical style and even had a copper pinnacle resembling a sailing ship. The Empire's auditorium, also in a nautical style, was built on three levels, stalls and pit, dress circle, and gallery, and boxes. The Theatre also had a projection box fitted into the rear of the gallery and films were shown as part of the variety shows from its opening. The Theatre was equipped with Vitaphone and Fox Movietone sound equipment in 1929 and a Western Electric sound system was later installed in the early 1930s. Although the Theatre continued as a variety house it began showing films when no shows were booked in. When Oswald Stoll died in 1942 the Theatre closed for a few months until it was reopened with Prince Littler at the helm in April 1942. Littler ran the Theatre as a live Theatre with no films and all the major stars appeared there during this period. In the 1950s under new management the Empire was converted into a cabaret style venue which saw the stalls seating removed and replaced by tables and chairs but this was not very successful and it was closed in March 1960 after having its electricity supply cut off due to unpaid bills. The Theatre never reopened and it was subsequently demolished, along with the adjoining Empire Cinema and the site is nowadays a car park for an office building called Anchorage House. Some of the above information on the Empire Theatre was gleaned from the excellent Cinema Treasures Website.