Also see 'When it began - 1925' (menu)
6th February 2012
This page is added because of recent news that the building is to be demolished to make way for some social housing flats.
It is likely to be changed and brought up to date because of current research by Jason Reynolds.
From archive records, the site of the Empire was formerly a garage owned by the Hedge family until a new building became an entertainment centre in 1926.
After its opening in 1926, films were silient until the 'talkies' came along. Musicial accompaniment was provided by a piano played by Glady Williams.
In 1931 a Christie Cinema organ was installed, but by that time most films had sound tracks.
In 1936 the cinema was refurbished and the item on the right appeared in the Neath Guardian dated 6th November 1936 as part of an advertisement feature to highlight the reopening.
Below is a photograph which appeared in the feature.
After the refirbishment the seating capacity was increased to 1,300.
Below is a letter heading from the year 1945. It shows members of Hedge family as the proprietors.
Shown left is an enlarged section of the above heading. It shows that the Hedge family were established in business from the year 1889.
They also owned a bicycle shop in Windsor Road Neath, adjacent to the Windsor Cinema.
The family also owned the Ritz Cinema in Skewen.
After the war years the Empire was taken over by South Wales Cinemas who also owned the cinemas mentioned on the business card below:-
Films were shown at the Empire until 1959 and the following year it became a Bingo Hall which had its last heads down session on St.Valentine's day in 2010.
In the MENU memorable dates are given which highlight films that were on the film circuit in those particular years - many appearing at the Empire.
With no interest taken in the building by the Labour run Neath Council for suggested use as a community centre, and with no vision by the council's planning department - documented for creating eye-sores, a planning application in 2011 by the Swansea Coastal Housing Group to demolish it and build social housing flats was successful.
The building started to be demolished in June 2012 - all fittings and items of historical were removed three months previously.
To be continued.....