Rex History -
Originally the Oddfellows Hall
and built in 1889 it provided various entertainments such as the
travelling theatre shows, banquets, concerts etc. - possibly
visiting Bioscope shows were presented prior to World War 1. During
the Great War Wareham folk used the Garrison Cinema at Worgret, just
west of Wareham, but later this venue closed and no local cinema
existed until the Empire Theatre opened in the Oddfellows Hall in
- The "Talkies" arrived at the Empire.
- Mr. Harry Mears was running the cinema.
- Mr. Elgar took over running the Empire whilst also running
the Palace, Isle of Wight.
- Mr. Joe Merrick ran the then excellent business due to the
influx of military units - especially prior to D-Day
- Mr. Merrick died in an aircraft accident and his wife Vi
continued to manage the business.
- The cinema was renovated, the arched ceiling was added and a
pair of 'Kalee' carbon-arc projectors were installed. The
Boxing Day re-opening featured the musical 'South Pacific'.
- The Rex was taken over by the Myles Byrne Group and managed
by 'Rusty' Irons.
- 'Rusty' retired and the Rex became the enthusiastic project
by a group of local people.
the years with the help of the Purbeck District Council, the
Friends of the Rex, and the Rex Players much work has been
done whilst still retaining the character of the cinema, but
adding many improvements: including a new fire escape, new
toilets, redecoration, replaced and re-spaced seats, new
projectors, replaced curtains and a stair lift.
Rex Bar was added in the Oddfellows Meeting Room in 2003
and the Rex is now among the few cinemas in the UK where it is
possible to have a glass of wine or beer whilst watching the