New Empire Theatre

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22 Alexandra St, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS1 1BU T: 01702 353577

New Empire Theatre in Southend On Sea

New Empire Theatre, Southend On Sea

The New Empire Theatre was built in 1896 by theatre impresario Frederick Marlow. He had owned the public hall previously on the site, and converted it to The Empire Theatre in 1892. A fire on Boxing Day 1895 destroyed the building. Marlow took it upon himself to rebuild a bigger, better theatre, with five floors and electric lighting.

The theatre was the first of its kind in Southend, and was called 'the prettiest theatre outside of London' by local press at its opening in 1896. Marlow presented a varied programme of musicals, opera, concerts, plays, variety and music hall. He remained at the theatre until 1905 when it was taken over by the Southend-on-Sea Theatre Company Ltd. The following fourteen years the theatre was run on a leasehold basis by various people, including Albert Marchinsky, an illusionist known as "The Great Rameses", a successful magician and music hall entertainer who spent some time pursuing theatre management as a career.