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The Time Piece

Discover the history of entertainment in Dewsbury.

11–15a Northgate, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, WF13 1DS

This pub is three former shops, one of which was a watchmaker in the late 19th century and, by the 1960s, a jeweller, also selling watches and clocks.

Prints and text about entertainment in Dewsbury.

The text reads: Empire House, opposite Dewsbury Town Hall, was built in the early 1960s on the site of the old Empire Theatre. The Empire opened in 1909 with a performance by Rob Wilton, the music-hall comedian who shared the billing with a bioscope, an early form of film show.

During the First World War, patriotic newsreels were shown at the Empire, but it was best known for its music-hall programmes. The famous entertainers who trod its boards include Charlie Chaplin, Flanagan and Allen, Gracie Fields, and the comedian Frank Randle, whose appearance brought a record attendance of nearly 3,000 only half of whom had seats!

The performers often stayed at local boarding houses and it was not uncommon to see a famous star in the streets of Dewsbury. The singer and actress Florrie Forde was known for buying shoes and boots for local children.

After the Second World War, the Empire staged operas, circuses, ice-shows, films, and straight drama but its most popular performers remained the light entertainment stars.

Hilda Baker, Cyril Fletcher, Charlie Chester, and Terry Scott all appeared at the Empire. So did Erle Morecambe and Ernie Wise, who are both said to have met their wives during engagements at the Empire.

Left: top, Rob Wilton, below, Florrie Forde
Above: centre, Flanagan & Allen, right, Morecombe and Wise.

External photograph of the building – main entrance.

If you have information on the history of this pub, then we’d like you to share it with us. Please e-mail all information to: pubhistories@jdwetherspoon.co.uk