Old Empire Theatre Building, Bridgetown, St. Michael, Barbados Pocket Guide

Old Empire Theatre Building

As you leave Bridgetown, Barbados and travel across the bridge passing Barbados National Bank and sitting somewhat obliquely opposite the main Fire Station in town, sits an architectural dynasty in the form of the Old Empire Theatre on Probyn Street.




Built in 1907, this building was designed to function primarily as a theatre. Earliest events were vaudeville shows and screen shots, and from that point it was acknowledged that those types of shows alone would be insufficient to sustain the Empire Theatre. Acts such as dance and comedy were viewed by the attending audience of the time. The late Frank Collymore, a prolific Barbadian writer, after whom Frank Collymore Hall has been named, was one local artiste who was afforded the opportunity to showcase his talent on that stage. At the prime of its existence, it would have been classified as a top-class theatre venue, however the hands of time have not been kind and The Empire Theatre sadly became defunct and ceased to operate in the 70s.


This building also functioned as a cinema patronized by persons from all walks of life. Many a young man can speak to frequent visits  to The Empire to watch karate and kung fu movies. Looking on from the outside, one can get a taste of the former glory which could have been attributed  to The Empire.


Recognising the value of this piece of local heritage, successive Governments of Barbados have spoken to plans for restoration. As can be imagined, the cost to "rehabilitate" the building is likely to be prohibitive and considerable thought is evidently being given as to whether or not that might be the most prudent use of available funding.


Meanwhile, many a Barbadian and visitor awaits news of any final decisions as the potential surrounding the building can clearly be seen by all.


Refurbishment Plan In Place

According to the Minister of Finance, Christopher Sinckler, the Government of the Democratic Labour Party still has plans in place to refurbish the Old Empire Theatre.




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