Nostalgia: Rise and fall of The Empire

PUBLISHED: 12:07 13 April 2006 | UPDATED: 10:01 06 May 2010

The Empire Cinema building as it was in 1974 as Pye Connectors

The Empire Cinema building as it was in 1974 as Pye Connectors

This week we continue the history of the Empire Cinema. In 1922 the cinema was sold to F E Moody of Colchester. His ownership was short lived as Arthur Hill and Sons acquired the Empire in 1923. They soon also purchased the Victory Cinema in Sandy and o

Flexicon in 1985, when the workforce was 266

This week we continue the history of the Empire Cinema. In 1922 the cinema was sold to F E Moody of Colchester.

His ownership was short lived as Arthur Hill and Sons acquired the Empire in 1923.

They soon also purchased the Victory Cinema in Sandy and opened the Lido riverside venue in Biggleswade in 1929.

Another cinema, The Regal, in Station Road, opened in 1936.

The Empire, the Victory and the Regal cinemas were sold to the Cox Cinema Co Ltd in 1937.

The Empire showed up-to-date films and had converted to "talkies" in 1930.

Courting couples appreciated double seats available in the back row. Children were not forgotten; I well remember the 'tuppenny rush' matinee on Saturday afternoons with popular serials, it was crowded each week. There was also a Christmas treat for youngsters each year in the 20s and 30s when between 400 and 500 children enjoyed films, cartoons and entertainment with a party atmosphere.

Each child received a paper bag with an orange, an apple, a bun, nougat and a threepenny piece.

Both cinemas in Biggleswade were popular and busy during the war. Afterwards, with declining audiences mainly due to the popularity of television, the Empire closed on January 25, 1958.

Electro Methods Ltd converted the building into an electronics factory opening in September 1959.

In 1964 it was Ether Ltd, in 1974 Pye Connectors and on October 1 1983, it became Flexicon Ltd.

The workforce in 1985 was 266 when a downturn in electronics caused about 30 to be made redundant.

The factory closed and was demolished in February 1994.

There is no trace of past glories and the site is now a housing development, Empire Close.

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