Grand Opera House

The Grand Opera House is situated on Clifford Street and was originally built as the York Opera House and Empire Theatre in 1902. The new theatre comprised of two older buildings which were merged together, the old Corn Exchange and an adjoining warehouse. During its time as a theatre it saw performances by Charlie Chaplin, Gracie Fields and Laurel & Hardy.

When the Empire closed in 1956 a sign was placed on the wall saying "This theatre has been closed by the crippling Entertainment Tax and unfair untaxed entertainment by television. Television pays no tax, television presents music-hall shows 7 days a week including Sundays - the theatre is not allowed to open on Sunday. Losses sustained by television are made up out of your - the taxpayer's pocket. No other business in the country could survive under such deliberately unfair competition. Where is British fair-play?". Although an emotive statement, this was a period nationally of decline in theatres and cinemas, which wasn't reversed until the 1980s.

After a period of closure the building re-opened again for bingo, wrestling and roller skating, remaining open until 1985. In 1987 the building was renovated and again opened as the Grand Opera House.