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Empire Theatre


The first theatre on the site, the Queen's Theatre, opened on 10 September 1888 on the site of an old manufactory, at a cost of £18,000. The exterior was plain, without ornament, and three stories high. The façade in Commerce Street was of red sandstone in free Renaissance style. It was destroyed by fire in 1894.

Matcham's 1896 exterior was not much more demonstrative, but the auditorium was described by Christopher Brereton in 1982 as ' of the best and least-known examples of Frank Matcham's surviving works'. The gallery started behind and above the rear of the upper circle, in effect forming a separate tier. The balconies were built on the cantilever principle.

A projection box was constructed at the rear of the gallery in 1921, and cine-variety was presented. It later became a full-time cinema, and then a bingo hall from 1966 until 1991. On 31 December 1992 the building was destroyed by fire. Part of the front of house remained but in gutted condition, and although reconstruction behind the facade was considered, eventually in Spring 1997 the remains were removed.

The loss of the Longton Empire a 'three-star sleeping beauty' was one of the most tragic of recent years.

Built / Converted
Dates of use
  • 1888 - 1894: and 1896 until 1960s?
Current state
Current use
Demolished (closed as bingo 1991, destroyed by fire 31 Dec 1992)
Commerce Street/Chancery Lane, Stoke-on-Trent, Longton, Staffordshire, ST3, England
Further details
Other names
Queen's Theatre , Longton Empire
  • 1888 Design/Construction:
    Jackson & Sons (London)
    - Consultant
    proscenium plaster
    John Turner (stage carpenter of Leeds Grand)
    - Consultant
    stage and traps
    John Taylor
    - Architect
    T S Bromage
    - Contractor
  • 1888 Owner/Management: James Elphinstone Jr, lessee and manager; Longton & District Theatre Co Ltd, proprietors.
  • 1888 - 1894 Use: and 1896 until 1960s?
  • 1890 Owner/Management: Edmund Tearle, lessee and manager
  • 1890 Alteration: structural alterations (architect unknown).
    Smith & Co
    - Consultant
    Jackson & Sons
    - Consultant
    plaster work
  • 1894 Owner/Management: Longton & District Theatre Co Ltd, proprietor
  • 1894 Alteration:
    W T Hemsley
    - Consultant
    act drop
  • 1896 Owner/Management: The New Longton Theatre Co Ltd, proprietors
  • 1896 Design/Construction: reconstructed theatre after fire.
    Frank Matcham
    - Architect
    P H Bennion
    - Contractor
  • 1907 - 1912 Owner/Management: The Longton Theatre Ltd, proprietor
  • 1918 Owner/Management: The Longton Theatre Ltd, proprietor
  • 1921 Alteration: projection box built (architect unknown).
  • 1922 Owner/Management: W Hall, N Edwards, Harry Grice, owners
  • 1925 Owner/Management: bought by Derwent Circuit
  • 1931 Owner/Management: ABC
  • 1952 Alteration: refurbished (architect unknown).
  • 1966 Alteration: converted to bingo.
  • 1993 Demolition: destroyed by fire 31 Dec 1992 - facade only remained.
  • 1997 Demolition: Fragmental remains demolished.
  • Capacity
  • Capacity
    1912: 2670
    1957: 775
  • Listing
Stage type
Building dimensions: -
Stage dimensions: Depth: 48ft Width: 64ft
Proscenium width: 31ft 6in
Height to grid: 60ft
Inside proscenium: -
Orchestra pit: -