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Hackney Empire, on Mare Street, is the borough's oldest theatre and an iconic local landmark.  

Built in 1901, by internationally-acclaimed architect Frank Matcham, it attracted some of the world's most renowned performers in its first 50 years of life: from Charlie Chaplin to Louis Armstrong. 

Hackney Empire was one of the first theatres to have electric lights, a built-in projector box, and central heating. It also became the country's first commercial television studio in 1956, and location for classic tv shows such as 'Top Of The Pops'.

The Grade II-listed theatre has faced many ups and downs during more than a century of existence, and has been threatened with closure more than once. But residents, the council and wider theatrical community have always come together to save it. 

Following a major refurbishment in 2004, the heritage-listed venue has expanded its offer to world-class opera, theatre, dance, live music, comedy and alternative acts, as well as a renowned panto, now a ritual of the London festive season. 

With patrons including the late Harold Pinter, and performances from Russell Brand to the English Touring Opera, Peppa Pig and Florence + The Machine, the Empire continues to be a hub for local and international talent. 

The venue also has a café/bar, called the Empire Bar, and runs behind-the-scenes theatre tours, youth arts programmes, and a community choir.

Disabled Accessible

289-291 Mare Street


E8 1EJ


United Kingdom

Phone: 020 8985 2424



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