The Castle Theatre c1908

This is one of those posts that was lost when we moved to the new site.

The Castle Theatre on Stockton High Street, later became the Empire. It was originally called the Castle Theatre as it was on the site of Stockton Castle. This area is now occupied by the former Swallow Hotel.

We have tried to recreate as many of the original comments as possible…

4 thoughts on “The Castle Theatre c1908

  1. I can hardly bare to look at the photographs of the river side of stockton High Street as it used to be before it was all demolished in order to build that monstrosity, known as The Castlegate Centre. Not forgetting the now empty and decaying Swallow Hotel which replaced the magnificent, historic theatre in this photograph. If all these beautiful buildings had been kept and cared for, Stockton would still be attracting visitors, shoppers and tourists. No one I’ve ever met wanted those buildings demolished, it was a disgrace. The market was successful for hundreds of years, attracted many shoppers, including bus trips! If it’s not broken don’t fix it.


    • You have my vote Tina. What a fantastic tourist center we would have if people in charge had sought some EU cash to retain and improve some of the oldest building in Europe. Imagine the Green Dragon Yard all along the side of the river from the Empire to the Town Square?


    • In the past few years I have been as vocal as most complaining about the wanton dismantling of Stockton on Tees very fine High Street and market but, in all fairness, if the fronts could have been saved….. well fine, but the rear of most of these premises were dangerous and very unhygenic places of dilapadated outbuildings. I mourn the buildings that stood there and dispair at the monstrosities that have replaced them. It will take more than a 5 million pound refurb to make this town a strong commercial centre again…. if ever.


  2. The Castle Theatre was renamed the Empire Theatre in 1911. Having started life as a theatre it became a music hall a palace of varieties a cinema and then a bingo hall before finally being demolished in 1969. The deep cellars of the building presented the demolition team with a bit of problem which they solved by crushing the stones from the walls of the building and using this material to fill them in.
    Donald Stott

    The shop in the centre of the Theatre frontage is possibly Meeson’s – where I used my sweet coupons to get chocolates.
    Mary Smith

    Sloan’s Billiard Hall was in this building in the 1930s & gaining entrance from Castlegate.
    Robert Dicken

    I remember the building as the Empire Cinema. The mother of one of my pals was a cleaner there and using her pass, my pal and myself saw almost every film shown there in the early fifties. Access to the Upper Circle was reached from stairs leading from the entrance on Bridge Road (clearly visible on this photo). The Lower Stalls were reached by a long passage which was gas-lit and very unwelcoming. As we didn’t have to pay we always sat in the posh upper circle. Years later I frequently used the Snooker Hall located on the first floor of the Empire Cinema buildings.
    Ged Hutchinson

    Entering from Castlegate you were comfronted with a sign on support joist “NO LOITERING”. As a child I often wondered what that meant now I know I do it all the time! Another request for a memory prod but in that arcade entrance was there not a variety of shops?
    Mike Renwick

    Empire Arcade – The United Bus Company had a parcel office to the left as you entered. Parcels for outlying villages could be left or picked up and for a small charge be sent on appropriate buses (this moved to a small shop next to Les Browns toyshop ). There was also a wallpaper shop pottery and a fruit shop in this arcade. In the photo in the entrance of the tobacconist Iredales is one of the two “Scottish Gentlemen” advertising snuff the second was outside a shop Mowbrays near the Royal Oak which was “nicked by the Canadian Air Force at Goosepool and flew as a good luck charm on “Ops” being returned in 1944 via the landlady a Miss Jackson of the Vane-Arms the unofficial H.Q of the R.C.A.F
    Bob Harbron

    Bob Harbron – Bob the back of my memory had retained only the fruit shop for one reason and that was the smell in a closed concentrated space which was similar was the covered market in Hartlepool. As to the others you’ve mentioned I don’t remember them as going concerns. However the United office on the west of the High Street was were you picked up the overnight coach to London.
    Mike Renwick

    My grand dad Alf Robinson was a commissionaire at the Empire theatre for a while and my mam and me used to get in free. I think I remember him telling me that in the cellars were still traces of the old Stockton castle.
    Arthur Oakley

    The wallpaper shop was owned by the Levey family and was part of the castle arcade but faced onto Bridge Road just before the brewery one of the staff in the mid sixties would have been a young lady by the name of Joyce (I think )and lived in the Windermere Road area. In the shops heyday Levey’s owned about 20 shops Jack Levey the senior owner retired to Florida USA many years ago and left his son Nigel to run the company. This business has been sold to the Fads group and trades under the name of LEVEY’S/Fads
    No Name


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