Empire Theatre

Nicolson Street


Festival Theatre


Empire Theatre

Empire Theatre, Nicolson Street, Edinburgh - 1928 ©


Empire Theatre, Nicolson Street, Edinburgh - 1957 ©


Empire Theatre, Nicolson Street, Edinburgh - 1959 ©


History of the Theatre

Empire Palace Theatre

There has been a theatre on this site since 1830.  The Empire Palace Theatre, the first of the chain of Moss Empires, opened here in 1892.

A fire at the theatre in 1911, resulted in eleven deaths backstage, including magician, 'The Great Lafayette'.  The theatre closed, but re-opened three months later.

In 1928, the theatre was re-equipped to enable it to put on more spectacular shows.  It continued to put on shows until 1963 ** when it became a bingo hall, only temporarily serving as a theatre to put on occasional shows during the Edinburgh Festivals.

Edinburgh Festival Theatre

The theatre has now been re-modelled again.  It has been given a large glass frontage and a new entrance.  Re-named Edinburgh Festival Theatre, it opened in June 1994 and is now a major venue for opera, ballet and large-scale musical events.

Source  Wikipedia: Edinburgh Festival Theatre

** There seems to be a possible discrepancy in dates here.  The third photo at the top of this page is said to  have been published in The Scotsman or Edinburgh Evening News on March 5, 1959.                         Source:  Scran,




Mike Melrose

Greenbank, Edinburgh

Thank you to Mike Melrose who wrote:

'The Empire'

"Looking at the recent photographs of 'The Empire' brought many memories flooding back.

My Grandparents and Parents lived in the Cowgate and Nicolson Street most of their lives.  My Grandmother used to take me to the Pantomimes at 'The Empire' at Christmas time.

She remembered very well 'The Empire' ablaze on the night that  it burnt down."

McKenzie's Sports Shop

"I have a very vivid recollection of McKenzie's sports shop next door to 'The Empire'.

McKenzie’s was on two floors.  I can still remember walking up to the second floor and breathing in the smell of leather football boots, leather footballs and the distinctive smell of 'Dubbin'.  I can even smell it now as I write this."

"Thank you again for the memories."

Mike Melrose, Greenbank, Edinburgh:  August 6, 2010

More Memories

Brian and others may be interested to read this page of Nicolson Street recollections.

It includes more memories of:

The Empire Theatre  (Recollections 4, 5, 6)

McKenzie's Sports Shop  (Recollections 7, 8)

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  August 6, 2010