Outwood Empire opened in 1921 and was owned by The Rothwell Empire Company. The Cinema remained an independent until its closure in 1964.
The pay kiosk was in the centre at the front of the auditorium.There was also an entrance and pay kiosk on the right side of the Cinema, which was mainly used for the threepenny rush at the Saturday Matinee.
There were shops at either side of the front entrance.
The one on the left was a Fruit and Flower shop, owned by P Moram and later became a drapers shop, owned by Miss Mabel Green, who lived opposite the Cinema.
The one on the right was a newsagent’s owned in the 1920s by Edgar Fendley and in the 1930s by Walter Park.
The cinema housed a 28 feet wide stage with the screen at the rear.
On the 31st March 1940 local choirs performed “The Messiah” in a concert to raise money for the Stanley Branch of the British Legion, “Comforts for the Troops Fund” and featured the Old Savillians Orchestra.
On the 20th September 1942 The Lofthouse Red Cross Committee held a Variety Concert, featuring Olga Wakefield (Soprano), Harry Cook (Popular Baritone), Jean Farrar (Vocalist, Harry Roy’s Band), Brian Wright (Wonder Boy Xylophonist) with Compere, Norman Pearson, supported by the Leeds Empire Theatre Orchestra.
In 1954 the stage and screen were widened to 35 feet to facilitate the showing of films produced in the new CinemaScope format, the first film shown was “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”
In the early years one film per week was featured and as attendances dwindled in the late 50s, this was changed to two films per week, and finally, just before closure in 1964, three films per week were featured.
The Saturday Matinee was a great favourite with the kids in the 50s, and always produced a full house, Cartoons and The Three Stooges were roundly cheered, while kissing and love scenes, were booed.
During almost every show the projector was switched off by the Cinema Manager Mr Harrison, who then stormed down the aisle to the front and announced that it would not be turned back on until the kids behaved themselves.
After closure in 1964 the building remained empty until 1967 when it re-opened as a Bingo Hall. Bartle Entertainment ran their own buses and ferried local people, free of charge, to the bingo sessions.
After a short period as a Children’s Nursery, planning permission was sought to turn it into a DIY Store, but this never came to fruition. Later it was bought by Mike’s Carpets.
In 1995 it was decided to open the first ever “Drive Through” Fish & Chips takeaway in the UK and, more than likely, in the world. When it opened it was featured on the 'Big Breakfast' show for the most servings of Fish & Chips in an hour.
After 94 years Outwood Empire is still providing a service to our local community.