Burnley Empire Theatre sold for £1; gets another chance at life

The Burnley Empire starts along the road to recovery. Photo courtesy Mark Salmon

East Lancashire’s last surviving Victorian theatre, the Grade II listed Burnley Empire, has been bought by a supporters group with the intention to bring it back to life after almost 25 years of neglect.

Opened in 1894, the 1200-seater venue lasted for 101 years as a theatre, cinema, and then bingo hall, until closing in 1995.

Previous owners the Duchy of Lancaster sold the building to the Trust for £1.

Since 1995, the building has slowly decayed, not helped by an arson attack and the deterioration of the building’s roof. The theatre has accordingly been on the Theatres Trust’s annual Theatres At Risk Register for many years.

The new owners, Burnley Empire Limited, operating through the Burnley Empire Theatre Trust (BETT) have made their first priority to make the building weather-tight and then to commence plans for restoration.

Let’s wish them well for the revival of this prized community asset and an historic part of Burnley’s social fabric. And if you live locally, please give a hand, if you can, to bring this sleeping beauty back to life.


Learn more about the Burnley Empire Theatre Trust here

Learn more about the excellent work of the Theatres Trust and their Theatres at Risk Register here

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