28DL Regular User
(picture not my own)
(picture not my own)
The New Empire Theatre was built in 1896 by theatre impresario Frederick Marlow. He had owned the public hall previously on the site, and converted it to The Empire Theatre in 1892. A fire on Boxing Day 1895 destroyed the building. Marlow took it upon himself to rebuild a bigger, better theatre, with five floors and electric lighting.
The theatre was the first of its kind in Southend, and was called 'the prettiest theatre outside of London' by local press at its opening in 1896. Marlow presented a varied programme ofmusicals, opera, concerts, plays, variety and music hall. He remained at the theatre until 1905 when it was taken over by the Southend-on-Sea Theatre Company Ltd. The following fourteen years the theatre was run on a leasehold basis by various people, including Albert Marchinsky, an illusionist known as "The Great Rameses", a successful magician and music hall entertainer who spent some time pursuing theatre management as a career.
By 1919, the advent of moving pictures had brought about many changes in Southend, and the theatre closed its doors, making way for an enlarged and magnificent cinema, The Rivoli. From 1921 to 1962, the Rivoli thrived as a cinema, in 1929 installing sound equipment to facilitate the talking pictures. In 1962, the Rivoli was taken over by the ABC chain and underwent further refurbishment, including the addition of a Marine Bar underground, making use of the old Empire passageways. The cinema continued for another 20 years, and in 1982 was twinned to create a second, smaller cinema at the old Rivoli Mezzanine level.
By 1998, the popularity of cinema as a whole had diminished, and one of many casualties in Southend was the ABC. In February 1998, it showed its last film, and the venue was once again closed.
Explored with Robg172, Slayaaaa and Oakley, this was the third explore of a rather successful derpy day out in sunny Southend-on-Sea.
I had always wanted to take a wander around inside this place again due to fond memories of many a Saturday (and the odd bunked school day ) spent here as a kid. Probably the most fun access (and exit) I’ve had so far, I was chuffed to finally be back inside after so many years.
The site itself is bigger than it looks from the outside with a main theatre stage and cinema there is also an abundance of projection rooms, dressing rooms, storage areas, corridors and cellars. Sadly the old bar area was very much secured and was the only area we didn’t get to see.
Upon reaching the top floor we came across a ladder leading up to the roof which was nice. Not so nice was having to try and tiptoe through about two inches of liquid sludge and pigeon shit to get to it but after reaching the top it was worth the effort.
A personal highlight was finding the very seats I remember sitting in to watch such cinematic gems as Jurassic Park and The Fifth Element as a kid. Memories!
Overall it was a fun explore with plenty to see and a little bit of nostalgia thrown in to boot. Thanks to robg172, slayaaaa and Oakley for the good company, laughs and teamwork on what was an enjoyable day. Looking forward to seeing your shots
This was weird. Found a chair in one of the upstairs corridors in front of a peephole that looked down onto the main theatre auditorium...
And for a laugh...Live on Stage
Hope you enjoyed