13 thoughts on “The Empire Theatre

  1. Just a word about tunnels to the old Empire Cinema, for what it’s worth. When I was a lad in Thornaby (late 40s and early 50s) and regularly went to the Empire cinema, there were stories that a tunnel led from Thornaby Green to the Empire. I may have it wrong but I thought the stories referred to a tunnel from the church in the middle of Thornaby Green (?) – one that Oliver Cromwell allegedly fired cannon balls at?

    Also I’ve been searching for any word on 2nd Thornaby Scout Troop in the early 5os. Anybody in the know?


  2. Oh Boy! Does this stir up some memories. Sloanes snooker Hall on the 2nd and 3rd floor. I remember going up those stairs as a young 15 year old teenager and taking my first step into the adult world! It was considered a “tough, rough, dangerous place” , but it became a definite part of my life and “maturity” over the next 4-5 years. The snooker games that took place there were ‘historical’. The fights too!!
    Downstairs was the Castle Cafe, where on the jukebox on the walls I first heard the Shirelles sing “Will you still love me tomorrow” … Changed my life! I became a soul fan and have been an avid one until this day. This picture brings back so many “formative ” memories about street life as a “Stockton Townie” that I could write a book…


    • Yes – the Empire! My brother’s girlfriend, later his fiancee and his wife worked in the pay-box there. Mary Thompson (nee Murdoch). As an employee she had a free pass, admit two persons once a week. I got that, early 50s, I was 15/16. The pass made me very popular with school friends! Was a frequent visitor too later to Sloane’s billiards. The Mary of whom I spoke has just died, 20th. March 2013, aged 85.


    • Ah yes the snooker hall, I remember, the only woman in the place being the woman behind the screen giving out cues etc.

      A real old ‘mans’ world it was.

      Some good gems and harsh criticism at times from the old boys watching.


  3. The shop at front of the empire was a great little tobacanist shop were you could buy all different exotic fags like Pasha Peter Styvestan long Russian blacks and all other kinds it was great for a 16/17 year old who would buy these fags on the way to the Maisen de dance on Saturday night.


  4. My Dad told me there were tunnels underneath, which led to the water, he said he and his mates would go through them and watch the shows, for free…


    • I don’t want to be cruel – but I think your Dad lied! There were those rumours but the way my friends and I explored the water’s edge I’m sure any tunnels would have been found – unless they started underwater!


  5. Gosh! Bee-Line buses. I was in a room with a pop group in the early 60s thinking of a name. I suggested the Bee Liners and it was adopted. I wonder were those bright young hopefuls are now.


  6. I can remember waiting outside this cinema with my mother many times indeed, to purchase tickets to watch whatever film that was showing. And nearby in the High Street was Marks and Spencer’s, Burton the Tailor?, Peter Pell tailors, Ray Alan men’s fashions and Levey’s Wallpaper shop, who were all Leeds companies who had shops in Stockton, there was also Woolworth’s, Upton’s, Bin’s, Doggart’s, Blackett’s, Army & Navy Stores, Pacito’s. Leslie Brown’s, Maxwell’s, Rawcliffe’s, Robinson’s, Stewart’s, Maynard’s, Winpenny, Stockton Modeller, Bill Tillson, Grabham’s, Timothy White’s, and many others including the Evening Gazette and the Northern Echo paper offices.

    ADVERTISING SIGNS: The metal sign saying ‘Players Please’ fixed to the newsagents shop shown was advertising John Players Medium Navy Cut cigarettes who used the slogan “It’s The Tobacco That Counts”. Players owned another cigarette company called W. D. and H. O. Wills of Newcastle, who made Teesside’s favourite brand of cigarette “Wild Woodbines”., the 2nd shop sign shown is advertising Bee-Line Coaches, owned by the Ellerman Shipping line – who owned the Bee-Line Coach services company. Sir John Ellerman who owned this company is still considered to be Britain richest ever man, when he died in 1933, his estate was assessed for probate at £33 million pounds, the equivalent of £10 billion pounds in 1933 purchasing power.


  7. Remember one of our drivers at Head Wrightons having a crash into the Empire. He was driving down Yarm Lane towards it and I think his steering locked and finished half way up the srairs at the front of the building, nearly into the foyer.


  8. I seem to remember a record shop to the right of the bingo sign. This woukd be about 1955/6,
    anyone else remember it or is my memory playing games.


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