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Empire Picture Theatre


The Empire soon after opening. The car parked outside belonged to Mr Flint, the manager, from which projectionist-cameraman Eddie Scriven shot local newsreels.


The exterior in 1919 shows how popular cinema was, although having a 'twice-nightly' policy rathwr than continuous performance may partly account for the queue. The film on offer may be another factor: it was 12-part adventure serial.


The interior of the Empire soon after opening.

Empire Picture Theatre 1910-1930
New Empire Picture Theatre (1930-1933)

Haddington Street, Hove

1910 June Application is made to Hove Council by Bostel Brothers on behalf of Harry Scriven to convert a former assembly hall (Blatchington Hall) into an 'electric theatre' to designs by architect Herbert A Finn.
1910 December 10 Opens. A Gaumont Chrono projector is acquired second-hand from the Salvation Army Congress Hall in Park Crescent Terrace; 350 seats, the front rows being wooden benches, the rest velvet-covered tip-up seats with arms; two shows nightly at 19:00 and 21:00, matinees Wednesday and Saturday morning. Prices: 3d, 6d, 9d. Eddie Scriven, Harry's son, acts as projectionist. The manager is former actor Walter R Flint, who also plays the piano. Flint drives an open-topped car (first a Ford, then a Singer) from which Eddie Scriven can shoot newsreel footage of street scenes and local events, using a Williamson camera. Film of football matches, fetes and carnivals is processed in London by Butcher's Film Service and screened at the Empire three days later. Occasional stage acts by local concert parties.
1912 Balcony added with 70 seats.
c1913 Hepworth's Vivaphone system, linking a film projector and a phonograph, is installed.
1914-1918 Called the First Hove Empire to further distinguish it from the Electric Empire round the corner in George Street.
1919 Now showing films in separate rather than continuous performances twice nightly at 6:30 and 8:30.
1920s A free monthly magazine about forthcoming releases is printed by Cornford Bros of 71 George Street.
1924 The Plastigram anaglyph 3D film system is shown.
1926 Licence is transferred to Mrs Elizabeth Scriven following the death of her husband, Harry Scriven.
1930 Sold to William Fuller of 14 Glastonbury Road, Hove (and 113 North Street, Brighton), and renamed New Empire. Licensed for 188 seats on the ground floor, 58 in the balcony.
1931 January 13 Fire in the projection booth, the only injuries being burns to the two projectionists, who acted quickly to isolate the fire.
1933 Closed around the time the Lido opened nearby.

The site was later part of Sainsburys supermarket, then a B-Wise clothing store, now Co-operative Food.

Reference:
Judy Middleton: Film-makers, Cinemas and Circuses at Hove (2001)

Brighton cinema directory

Page updated 5 October 2013
David Fisher