Empress Cinema, Tuebrook, Liverpool.

EMPRESS CINEMA, West Derby Road, Tuebrook.

Empress Cinema, Tuebrook, Liverpool.

West Derby Road,
Liverpool, L13 


Date opened: Saturday 20th February 1915.

Date Closed:  Saturday 12th March 1960.

Owner: T Halliwell Hughes.

Contractors: Campbell and Fairhurst of Liverpool.

Capacity: Balcony- 910 seats.

First manager: Walter Bell.

Cost: £8000.

First film shown: “Kismet” starring Oscar Asche and Lily Brayton.

Final film shown: “House of the Seven Hawks” starring Robert Taylor.


The first film shown at the Empress Tuebrook ~ “Kismet”

The Empress cinema Tuebrook, Liverpool made its first appearance on 20th February 1915 with ‘Kismet’. The building was described as looking like an old English mansion, with the added attraction of tapestry. It was situated in Derby Road and the exterior was built with imitation stone, painted white. It was an imposing building having a classical elevation and Roman Iconic Pillars on the second story.

The Empress cost £8000 to build and was erected by Campbell and Fairhurst, Liverpool. The entrance hall had two quaint inglenooks with polished beams of oak and the walls had oak paneling. There were what was described as two old fashioned coal fire places in the entrance hall. The stairs to the entrance hall were in Sicilian marble, and the maple flooring was supplied by H. D. Dodd of Liverpool.

In a prominent position on the West Derby Road ~ the EMPRESS cinema.

A month before opening it was stated that the seating would be for 1200. Later it was stated that seating was 910. Shortly before opening the 6d seating was re-organised, which reduced seating, taking away sixty-eight seats.

The proscenium end of the hall was draped in rich purple velour, trimmed and embroidered with shades of gold. The door and window hangings were of blue, which matched the carpet. Seating was the tip-up type apart from a few rows of benches at the front.

The projection room was spacious, housing Gaumont’s latest projectors, which no doubt were the Chrono type. The picture throw was one hundred feet and the screen size back in 1915 eighteen feet by fourteen. There were two waiting rooms, each accommodating three hundred people. Outside there was a veranda, which provided additional cover. Illumination was by eight Superlux Hemisphere pilot lights, consisting of hand made Gothic type brass brackets with lanterns, which gave the hall a beautiful and warm appearance.

The popular Kinematograph Weekly said that the cinema was one of the most artistic in Liverpool The owner was a Mr T Halliwell Hughes. He was the managing director of others including the Magnet, Wavertree, Liverpool. The first manager was Walter Bell. There were at the time of opening two performances nightly and matinees took place on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. There was an orchestra under a Mr S. Gee. The orchestra pit was separated from the front gangway by a dark curtain on a brass rail.

In 1926 the cinema engaged a new orchestra under the leadership of Eunice Kyle, who with pianist Tony Hargreaves proved a popular attraction. Manager at the time a Mr Geo A Jones installed radio in the foyer to entertain waiting patrons. In 1927 former projectionist of the Beresford, Mr N.D. Doddy became manager.  From March 1928 the cinema was run by Denman Picture Houses Ltd.

Talkies arrive at the Empress

Talkies arrived on 31st March 1930 with ‘The Great Cabbo’. Though some sources say It was equipped with with British Acoustic, the Bioscope dated November 26 1929 says Power Cinephone was installed. CinemaScope made an appearance on 20th March 1955 with ‘Sign of the Pagan’. Also in August 1955 a fifteen year old boy with another age sixteen, set fire to the building causing around £2000 worth of damage to the stage and screen. Closure came on 12th March 1960 with ‘House of the Seven Hawks’.

The building was another victim of so called progress, demolished to make way for a dual carriageway.

David A Elliscopyright whitechestercinemas.co.uk