Curtain up on the early years of Hartlepool’s ‘Empire’

Published Thursday, 16th January 2020

The early years of Hartlepool’s Empire Theatre will be remembered at a talk in the town next month.

Local historian Tony Hey will be focusing on the venue’s first decade in his talk at Community Hub Central (Central Library) in York Road on Wednesday 5 February from 2pm to 3.30pm in part one of a two-part presentation.

The event is part of the Hub’s regular ‘CHAT Group’ – an adult social group which meets to chat about various topics.

Empire Theatre

The Empire Theatre opened in Lynn Street in 1909 with 2,000 seats and for a number of years proved very popular.

However, by the early 1950s audience numbers were dwindling rapidly and in 1956 the gallery and balcony were closed.

The building closed as a cinema in August 1959 and its last theatre production was in November 1959 – the West Hartlepool Operatic and Dramatic Society’s production of ‘Carousel’.

Proving economically unviable, in 1961 the building was turned into a bingo hall, but a combination of its location and increased competition led to its closure in 1964 and it was finally demolished in 1975.

Tony Hey says: “I’ll be turning the spotlight on the Empire’s first ten years – a period which is rarely covered – including a mixture of acts and facts, quotes and anecdotes and details of some of the great and unusual performers who appeared there.”  

Admission to the talk is £1 per person and places must be booked in advance by contacting Community Hub Central on 01429 272905 or emailing