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Sheffield History

The Empire Theatre

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Guest tsavo

tsavo, Have you any idea exactly what the date was when the Empire closed? I know it was either May or June of 1959, but is there any chance of being more precise --I am wondering if it was before or after the newspapers all went on strike. You say you were in the audience for the final show.

Sure can OCSK, The Empire closed on Sunday 2nd of May, 1959. This from Cinema Treasures. http://cinematreasures.org/theater/25498/

With the impact of television, Moss Empires decided to close the Empire Theatre and in 1959 it was sold to an Edinburgh Real Estate Company, closing on Saturday 2nd May with Albert Modley in a variety show sponsered by the Smedleys Food Company. It was demolished two months later in the July and replaced with shops, which still stand on the Empire Theatre site today.

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Guest abcman

:rolleyes:

And another thing...anybody see the legendary Scots comedian Chic Murray at the Empire?

"I went to this hotel, the sign outside said 'dogs must be carried'. I thought where the hell am I going to find a dog at this time o' night?"

If you go to the Local History Department in the Sheffield City Library they have a volume on all shows at the Lyceum Theatre from 1897 to 1969 and for the Empire Theatre 1895 to 1959 which they copied from my self typed lists which I did in the late 1960's early 1970's by looking back through all the old editions of the Sheffield Star.

Hope this will help you.

Richard Roper

Bournemouth

(formerly of Rotherham and an ex Manager of the Sheffield ABC Cinema which stood in Angel Street.

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Guest abcman

:rolleyes:

If you go to the Local History Department in the Sheffield City Library they have a volume on all shows at the Lyceum Theatre from 1897 to 1969 and for the Empire Theatre 1895 to 1959 which they copied from my self typed lists which I did in the late 1960's early 1970's by looking back through all the old editions of the Sheffield Star.

Hope this will help you.

Richard Roper

Bournemouth

(formerly of Rotherham and an ex Manager of the Sheffield ABC Cinema which stood in Angel Street.

(I also saw the last Panto at the Empire - 'Babes In The Wood' produced by Emile Littler who presented many shows & Pantos in Sheffield (both at the Empire & the Lyceum).The Flying Ballet was a wonder you don't see any more (health & safety regulations I suppose). The Empire, like the Lyceum was a beautiful theatre. try getting a copy of Bryen Hillerby's book 'The Lost Theatres Of Sheffield which is a great insite into all of Sheffield's old theatres.

Photo of Matcham's wonderful Sheffield Empire auditorium & Empire frontage after closure in 1959.

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Guest abcman

Another view of Matcham's beautiful Sheffield Empire auditorium & stage.

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Guest abcman

An original Music Hall Bill for the Sheffield Empire Palace Theatre W/c January 31st 1898

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Guest dendewsnap

I would be very interested to know if anyone has any detailed biographical info on John Spitzer, the old Empire manager. He was a great character, but I don't think he ever courted personal publicity, and when he died at the Grand Hotel (I have forgotten the year, but poss late 60s) I don't recall that his obits were very informative. I have a feeling that he came to Sheffield around 1952, and at the time was the youngest manager the theatre had ever had. He stayed until the theatre closed, then was Moss Empires rep in the region. There was not show biz personality who came to the area that John didn't know.

Incidentally, among the acts I saw at the Empire in the 1950s and really enjoyed were Chic Murray, the Scottish comedian, Jimmy Young, Jimmy Sacca & the Hilltoppers, and G.H. Elliot.

I also remember Leslie Welch, the memory man coming in about 1956. He failed to anwer a question I put to him on football, but he was so smooth tongued he whipped onto the next item and made it look as if I had got my question wrong!

I worked for The telegraph & Star during the late fifties - early sixties. I often saw Johnny Spitzer getting out of a taxi, backwards because of his enormous girth. He would come to lunch at Kemsley House for luncheon with the management, Michael Berry, Eric Gooseman, Frank Gardner. I have seen at The Empire many acts, including : Hutch, Old Mother Riley, Jewel & Warris, Dickie Valentine, David Whitefield, Dorothy Squires, Carol Levies discoveries, Shirley Bassey, but, the best act was to be seen outside Kemsley House and Cole's corner: 'Duke of Darnell' helping the policeman conduct the traffic. What a sight !

[email protected]

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S24

Do we have any photos of "The Duke of Darnall" ? I vaguely remember him as a kid, but I can't quite picture him any more.

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madannie77

Do we have any photos of "The Duke of Darnall" ? I vaguely remember him as a kid, but I can't quite picture him any more.

Here is a link to a photo on Picture Sheffield.

We have a topic about the as well.

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RichardB

Empire Palace December 25th 1900.

Pinstone Street and Charles Street.

The Messiah.

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RichardB

The Empire Palace. 1st February 1902.

Pinstone Street and Charles Street.

Tonight at 7.70,

John Tiller's Famous Company is

Jolly Jack.

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RichardB

The Empire Palace 23rd February 1901.

Pinstone Street and Charles Street.

Tonight at 7.30 George Lashwood (Comedian)

(Next Week J W Rowley)

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RichardB

The Empire Palace 4th October 1902.

Pinstone Street and Charles Street.

Tonight (Saturday) George Lashwood, Comedian.

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RichardB

Empire (12th Septeber 1903)

Palace of Varieties

Twice Nightly at 7 and 9

Always a Programme of the Greatest Brilliance

Cosiest in Winter Coolest in Summer

Popular Prices

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History dude

My Grandmother seems to have been a regular Theatre going nutcase! And she went to the Empire too!

These are all from a single booklet

She noted the year it closed down!

Actual scenes from a show being performed there!!!!

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southside

I was taken backstage at the Empire by my Grandfather to meet TOBOR the Robot some time in the early 1950s.

Can anyone come up with the year?

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DaveH

My Grandmother seems to have been a regular Theatre going nutcase!

The Globe theatre perhaps?

Stratford on Avon?

If so it may give away why you use Shakespeare as your avitar lol

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DaveH

I was taken backstage at the Empire by my Grandfather to meet TOBOR the Robot some time in the early 1950s.

Can anyone come up with the year?

No but I remember seeing the film TOBOR the robot.

As everyone familiar with this work will no TOBOR is so called because it is the word ROBOT spelt backwards.

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Athy

I only knowingly saw The Empire once, late in its life - indeed, in death. I was in the back of our Hillman Minx as Dad drove through Sheffield and he pointed and said to Mum and me "They're knocking the guts out of the old Empire, I see". I looked and saw cranes and craggy half-demolished walls. After reading this thread, how I wish I had seen it in its pomp.

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vox

Sheffield Empire

Programme. August 1948

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ukelele lady

Now there's a surprise at the beginning of the programme , Managing Director Val Parnell.

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Guest MickBrennan

I know this place well I was the page boy at sheffield empire theatre in 1947 . Happy memories , when I was there the manager was pierrepoint and Spitzer was the undermanger I sold programs at the front and I used to take people to the boxes and got good tips my wages was good it was £1.00 and 10 shillings which was good in them days. I was there when the tiger clawed the clowns Arm i was cleaning the seats at the time . A man called peter was the head doorman and three was another doorman called cody that had a fish shop up meresbrook . Happy memories 

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Heartshome

My Mum told me this story many times7th Dec 1940, at the family home, Mum was getting ready for her Fiance Arty, to call and take her to the EMPIRE to see Henry Hall's Band. But instead, his friend called with a message saying sorry! Arty's leg was playing up, ( he suffered from painful ulcerations ) and he needed to rest it. Mum was obviously dissapointed, but knew what it was like for him. Her brother Ray, home on leave from the Army, and had gone to town with his mates. A little after 7pm the sirens went, Mum, her 2 sisters and their Mother went down the cellar till the all clear. It was getting late, when Ray arrived home in a state. Very upset, and filthy from head to foot. He said after the all clear, he and his mates came out of the shelter, to find the EMPIRE, had taken a direct hit on the stage and dressing rooms, causing a fire at the rear of the building. They went to help the emergency services, clear rubble, and pull out anybody they could find. Sadly, some of Henry's band were killed. Mum said she had a good cry with the shock of it, knowing her and Arty would have been there. It was rumoured, that Henry Hall had been killed, but a few days later, he was on the Radio Music Programme, with the introduction " THIS IS HENRY HALL SPEAKING".

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Voldy

There is one very well known name I haven't seen mentioned yet in this thread, appearing with her parents Ted and Barbara Andrews when she was a teenager. It must have been before 30th September 1954 as she, Julie, debuted in "The Boy Friend" on Broadway the day before her 19th birthday.

It was an evening variety show so she must have been in her late teens. Can anyone confirm the year?

I also remember seeing Al Read, the Lancashire comedian, with a red MG car on-stage (exhaust fumes included!). There was a '2 for the price of 1' night, on Mondays I think. Norman Evans -"Over the garden wall" another Lancastrian entertainer. All this was before TV increasingly took over to the detriment of variety shows.

   

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