The Hackney Empire was designed by Frank Matcham, one of the world’s most accomplished theatre architects. It was built in 1901 and kitted out with all the latest technology – electric lights, central heating and an in-built projection box.
It was originally a music hall, which hosted a variety of comedians, singers and dancers. Charlie Chaplin, Stan Laurel and Marie Lloyd were amongst the stars who performed there in the early days. The Theatre went on to become the first commercial television studios in 1956 and shows like Oh Boy! – the Top of the Pops of the day – were filmed there. Later it was turned into a Bingo Hall and it did not go back to being used as a theatre until 1986.
After its re-opening, the Empire became established as one of London’s top comedy venues, hosting acts such as Ben Elton, Dawn French, Paul Merton and Harry Enfield. It now puts on a wide range of productions, including opera, music, drama and comedy. It also does education and outreach work with the young people living in its community.
The theatre has 3 licensed bars, is air conditioned and can seat up to 1280 people over 4 levels. The auditorium has induction loops and an infra-red sound amplification system for the hard of hearing. There is a ramp at the entrance and a lift to take those with mobility problems to the auditorium. There are 20 wheelchair spaces over all the levels and adapted toilets are available.
The nearest tube station is Bethnal Green; you then have a 10 minute journey on the 106 or 254 bus. Hackney Central is on the London Overground network and the theatre is 2 minutes’ walk from the station. You can park for free at the Tesco’s on Morning Lane, but you have to get a voucher from the Box Office and they’re not valid on Sundays. Otherwise you can use the Council Car Park at Hillman Street.
In our travels around the web, we found these Hackney Empire web pages useful. Contact us at email@example.com to list your favourite Hackney Empire website here.
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