A YEAR or so before this photograph was taken, the scene visible through the photographer’s lens would have been completely different.

As most Rewind readers will be aware, the image is of Empire House, the block which stands at the town centre end of Groundwell Road, and which is home to eateries and shops.

Completed in 1960, it replaced the Empire Theatre, which stood from 1898 until its demolition in 1959.

The theatre hosted performances by some of the greats of 20th century British and international entertainment, including Laurel and Hardy and Gracie Fields, but eventually fell victim to changing tastes - and television.