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The first theatre on the site, opening on 15 October 1866, was named the "New Prince of Wales Theatre and Opera House". It was at that time Liverpool's largest theatre. On 29 July 1867 its name was changed to the "Royal Alexandra Theatre and Opera House" in honour of Princess Alexandra, Princess of Wales. The theatre closed in 1894, but was re-opened the following year under the ownership of Empire Theatre (Liverpool) Ltd. In 1896 the theatre was sold to Messrs. Moss and Thornton for £30,000 (£2,570,000 as of 2012), and re-named "The Empire". This theatre closed on 16 February 1924, and it was demolished.
It was replaced by the present larger theatre, which opened on 9 March 1925. In 1977 the theatre was still owned by Moss Empires, who were making plans to dispose of it. Two years later it was acquired by Merseyside County Council. During the following two years a total of £680,000 was spent on improving the back stage facilities, and extending the stage and orchestra pit. The theatre underwent a further major refurbishment in 1999; this included increasing the size of the stage and improving the facilities for the audience.
In 1957 a local pop group called The Quarrymen appeared at the theatre. They returned in 1959, having changed their name to "Johnny and the Moondogs". They returned to the Empire again in 1962, now named The Beatles. The Beatles gave their last performance in this theatre on 5 December 1965.
February 19th, 2012
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