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Historic England Research Records

Empress Theatre

Hob Uid: 1564983
Location :
Greater London Authority
Hammersmith and Fulham
Non Civil Parish
Grid Ref : TQ2509078036
Summary : Empress Theatre / Empress Hall, Lillie Road, Earls Court, London
More information : Empress Theatre / Empress Hall, Lillie Road, Earls Court, London
TQ 2509078036

Earl’s Court Exhibition Grounds lease was bought by the Hungarian showman Imre Kiralfy in 1894. He rebuilt the site, along with the adjoining Empress Theatre. The theatre was built by D. Charteris to the designs of architect Allan O. Collard. (1)

The design was different to contemporary theatres; seating was all on one level so the space could hold upwards of 5,000 people with a stage and proscenium arch at one end. It was 370’ wide by 220’ long; the stage itself was 315’ wide, six times the size of most stages of the time. (2)

There was also a large water tank behind the front of the stage. This was used in a ‘Great Naval spectacle’ in 1897 in which dummy ships manoeuvred in the tank whilst explosions were created by dropping sodium from the roof. One day the sodium store overheated and exploded, destroying the offices and killing two people and several cab-horses. (1)

By 1907 Kiralfy had left for the White City, but exhibitions continued until 1914. During the First World War (1915) the grounds and theatre were used to accommodate Belgian refugees, and by the end it was used for storage and designing mock-ups for railway stations. After the war the site was partly derelict, but in 1935 the lease was granted to Earl’s Court Ltd, which opened an ice-rink (seating 7,000) and built the present exhibition Hall. (1)

It was now known as the Empress Hall and put on huge ice spectaculars.

It was used during the 1948 Olympic Games as a location for the boxing prelims, wrestling, gymnastics and weight lifting. (3)

The Empress State Building now stands on the site of the Empress Theatre/Hall. It was built in 1961 and renovated in 2003. (3)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Kensington and Chelsea - a social and architectural history
Source details :
Page(s) : 91
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Source Number : 2
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : Empress Hall by Matthew Lloyd http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/EmpressHall.htm [accessed 05-JUL-2012]
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Source Number : 3
Source : The British Olympics: Britain's Olympic Heritage, 1612 - 2012
Source details :
Page(s) : 140
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Monument Types:
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Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : TQ 27 NE 469
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