Empire Picture Palace Cinema, Wrexham.


Empire Picture Palace

Lambpit Street,

Wrexham, LL13 8BG


Original owner:  John Scott.

Architect:  Thomas Price of Liverpool.

First General Manager:  William Gregory.

Capacity:  582 seats.

Opened as a variety theatre/cinema:  Tuesday 1st April 1902.

Opened as a full-time sound cinema:  Friday 13th May 1932.

First sound film shown:  “Let’s Go Native” starring Jennette McDonald and Jack Oakie.

Closed:  Saturday 26th August 1956.



John Scott of the Seven Stars was the man behind the building of the Empire Music Hall. Preparations started during 1898. The Liverpool architect, Thomas Price was engaged to design the building that was to be on Lambpit Street, Wrexham.

From the Lambpit Street entrance, access to the theatre was via a double staircase that was complemented with a stout encrusted dado rail. The auditorium held 582 seats with tickets ranging from a shilling (5p)for the tip up seats in the Orchestra Stalls, sixpence for the Pit Chairs and four pence on benches in the Gallery. The interior was well fit out and decorated.  A warm air system heated the moderately sized hall and mains electricity was installed throughout. Attention was given to all aspects of safety including adequate provision of fire extinguishers and the number of exits with outward opening doors. The small stage was without flying facilities, but had a 21′ scenery dock door situated at the rear of the building.

The theatre was opened on Tuesday 1st April 1902 and was managed by William Gregory, a general manger with previous experience in Midland and London theatres. On the Gala Opening Evening artists appearing on stage included Almer Heath, Eva Nelson, Mat Venus, George Heath and Mike Scott. Silent newsreel films were shown as part of the variety programme that included a re-run of the 1901 Queen Victoria’s funeral. The new King opening Parliament and the Boar War.

A new lease was arranged during 1914 under the control of the People’s Popular Picture Company.  The building was then known as the Empire Picture Palace. However, this venture was short lived and the building returned to live variety theatre use the following year. Films were still shown occasionally, intermittently.

With the advent of sound films, the management were now enticed to look at turning the building into a full-time cinema. On 7th February 1932, the Royal Magnets Variety Show closed the building as a theatre for the final time.  A major refurbishment took place that included the installation of new projectors and sound equipment.

With a new name, the Empire Picture Palace opened on Friday 13th May 1932 with it’s first sound movie- “Let’s Go Native” starring Jennette McDonald and Jack Oakie.

The new cinema enjoyed healthy business until the outbreak of WWII, when along with all UK theatres and cinemas it was ordered to close because of safety concerns. This was short lived and after two weeks closure the cinema re-opened to take it forward into the heyday of cinema exhibition. The manager at this hectic time was Miss. K. Nutter.

Although the business was good during this period, little money was spent on the up keep of the building.  As the 1950s dawned the building was beginning to look run down. This, along with competition from the bigger local cinemas and television brought about the closure of the Empire on 26th August 1956.

The building was incorporated into the adjacent Seven Stars pub (Saith Seren), a Grade II Listed building. The former Empire Picture House remained unused.

This battered building was once the Empire Picture Palace, Wrexham.

In 2013 the cinema’s doors where reinstated to provide entry to the upstairs of the pub.

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