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The New Empire Theatre....

Not for the faint hearted !!!

Friday 27th February 2009

"THE NEW EMPIRE THEATRE" - 22 Alexandra Street - Southend-on-Sea - Essex SS1 1BU


Before becoming the New Empire Theatre, it has lived three lives, first as the original Empire Theatre, then the Rivoli Picture House, then the ABC Cinema.

Public Hall - ImageThe New Empire Theatre is a historic theatre in Southend, Essex. The New Empire Theatre was built in 1896 by theatre impresario Frederick Marlow. He had owned the public hall previously on the site (pictured left), and converted it to The Empire Theatre in 1892. A fire on Boxing Day 1895 destroyed the building. Marlow took it upon himself to rebuild a bigger, better theatre, with five floors and electric lighting.

Ravoli - ImageThe theatre was the first of its kind in Southend, and was called “the prettiest theatre outside of London” by local press at its opening in 1896. Marlow presented a varied programme of musicals, opera, concerts, plays, variety and music hall. He remained at the theatre until 1905 when it was taken over by the Southend-on Sea Theatre Company Ltd. The following fourteen years the theatre was run on a leasehold basis by various people, including Albert Marchinsky, an illusianist known as "The Great Rameses", a successful magician and music hall entertainer who spent some time pursuing theatre management as a career.

By 1919, the advent of moving pictures had brought about many changes in Southend, and the theatre closed its doors, making way for an enlarged and magnificent cinema, The Rivoli (pictured right). From 1921 to 1962, the Rivoli thrived as a cinema, in 1929 installing sound equipment to facilitate the talking pictures.

New Empire Theatre - Image

In 1962, the Rivoli was taken over by the ABC chain and underwent further refurbishment, including the addition of a Marine Bar underground, making use of the old Empire eerie passageways. The cinema continued for another 20 years (pictured left), and in 1982 was twinned to create a second, smaller cinema at the old Rivoli Mezzanine level.

By 1998, the popularity of cinema as a whole had diminished, and one of many casualties in Southend was the ABC. In February 1998, it showed its last film, and the venue was once again closed.

Since August 1998, the building had been used once again as a theatre, in 2001 the New Empire Theatre Fund was founded with the aim of raising enough money to buy the building from the owners, unfortunately this did not turn out possible and in 2008 the doors have sadly, but hopefully just for the time being now closed.

The Event

Spooky Locations are extremely privileged to be the first team to ever hold an all night ghost hunt in this eerie old troubled theatre. We have been very fortunate to have the permission of the owners for us to perform a ghost hunt at this historical theatre, we thank them for this very much indeed. Spooky Locations recently looked around the inside of the building and we can quite honestly say that it is one of the scariest places we have ever been in, plenty of photo's were taken whilst there capturing some unexplained images along with plenty of light anomalies. The theatre holds a catalogue of unexplained tragic events, most of which remain a mystery dating back from it's birth to the present date.

What will these old walls be willing to give up on the night?
Will our latest ghost hunting equipment capture strange phenomena?
Dare you be brave enough to tread the boards at the eerie empire?
Scream, scream, scream all you like, your screams will certainly not be heard from the outside of this huge building!

We will take you on a journey, through the dark dank scary passage ways, exloring the cellars and even onto the stage. We will be joined by other experienced paranormal investigators and mediums along with theirs and our ghost hunting and psychic equipment to try and experience paranormal activity, inside, in our opinion, one of the most haunted buildings in Essex.

Arrival time is 8:00 pm with a welcome briefing starting at approximately 8:30 pm.

You will encouraged to be pro-active during the event and get the chance to use and monitor our latest ghost hunting equipment throughout the night.

You will be provided with finger buffet supper, tea and coffee refreshments throughout the night.

At about 3:00 am there will be a debriefing of teams along with allocated time to review any evidence and to discuss and compare any findings from the investigation.

At approximately 3:30 am it will be time to say our goodbyes for now and Spooky Locations will draw the event to a close.

Please note that we are not classing this event as a sleep over and is reflected in the price.

A Spooky Evening at The New Empire Theatre Includes


There are numerous public car parks in the vicinity of the theatre, including one directly opposite the front entrance.

Price & Booking

The cost of this event is only £47 per person (limited spaces).
Book via our online booking page.
Please do not contact the location direct.

Bring With You

Camera and torch, both with spare batteries, plenty of warm clothing, comfortable shoes, please do not bring any unnecessary valubles.

Please report any errors to Spooky Locations