The Castle Theatre
The Castle Theatre was located on the corner of Bridge Road and the High Street, Stockton and was considered to be a fine example of Edwardian architecture built by the newly formed company of Hope & Tasker in 1908.
The Theatre had a stage with a 32 foot arch opening and was equipped with ten dressing rooms. The first show to take the stage was the ‘Lady of Lyons’ performed by an amateur group in July 1908.
Named because it was built on the site of the former Stockton Castle, the theatre soon had a change of name and was refurbished and reopened as the Empire Theatre. The new name change possibly came about to mark the coronation of King George V in 1911.
By 1916 the form of entertainment changed and the theatre became home to plays, music hall, variety and films. By November 1929, the Empire Theatre was advertising itself as ‘The BIG Talkie Theatre’. The Theatre was taken over by the Walter Bentley circuit in 1934 and then ABC a year later. The Empire Theatre was closed as a cinema in March 1961 where it was converted into a bingo hall.
In 1961 much of the Empire had ceased apart from the old billiards saloon which eventually closed in 1968. The old theatre was demolished a year later in 1969.
The site stood empty until the building of the Swallow Hotel which opened in 1973.