Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

End of Empire at Halstead

I have just learned of the closure of the cinema aspects of the Halstead Empire Theatre.

The Empire at Halstead in Essex was a cinema, which also held occasional live performances. My own interest is that I was its Manager in the early 1980s.

I like Halstead. It’s a really nice town – small enough to be able to know a large proportion of the people, but large enough to have its own shops and other facilities. The nearest big towns are Chelmsford and Colchester, both around 15 miles away.

While I was managing the Empire, an independent cinema owned by a Trust with help from the council, we managed to compete successfully for early showing of new films with the larger cinemas operated by the big companies.

We put the stage to good use.

Organ concerts were always particularly popular – famous organists like Ena Baga, John Mann and Robert Wolfe came to perform.

And among the others to appear on the Empire stage were Arizona Smoke Revue, the virtuoso bluegrass group put together by Bill Zorn.

I understand that live performances are still taking place at the Empire. Obviously, that in itself is good news.

But I send my commiserations to the people of Halstead on the loss of their cinema.