Former Empire Cinema, Caernarfon

Former Empire Cinema, Caernarfon

This building, now a bingo hall, was opened during the First World War as a cinema.

The proprietor was James Francis Morgan, of Llanberis Road. In December 1914 he applied for a temporary licence to show films in the Empire Cinema House for a fortnight over Christmas, but this was delayed because of incomplete paperwork. In July 1915 the programme included Bonita’s Last Fight, a “thrilling bull-fight drama”, and Pathé Gazette newsreels. Seats in different parts of the house were priced at 3d (three old pence), 6d and a shilling.

By October 1915 James was bankrupt. The new ownership and management donated an entire day’s takings to a soldiers’ fund in October 1917.

Through the middle of the century the Empire was a popular venue for residents of the district and for holidaymakers. As more homes bought television sets, film screenings were reduced and bingo was introduced. The last film was shown here in 1976, a little earlier than planned because the nearby river Cadnant flooded the building on the day of the planned final screening. Today the building is Apollo Caernarfon, owned by Majestic Bingo.

From the 1930s to the 1980s, the Empire also faced competition from the Majestic Cinema, next to Capel Pendref, on Bangor Street. The Majestic became a nightclub but was destroyed by fire in 1994.

Postcode: LL55 1SY    View Location Map

Website of Apollo Caernarfon