Grant awarded to Burnley Empire Trust for condition report and 3D laser scan survey of theatre

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
A grant of £12,000 has been awarded to the Burnley Empire Trust to cover a condition report and 3D laser scan survey of the building.

Burnley Empire is the sole survivor of five variety music halls in Burnley and the only purpose-built Victorian theatre of its kind in East Lancashire.

It is an asset to the local community and people of East Lancashire and the Burnley Empire Trust have been undertaking the necessary steps to preserve and renovate the large capacity town centre venue for future use.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Burnley Empire is one of seven theatres to receive funding through the first round of the Resilient Theatres: Resilient Communities grants programme, run by Theatres Trust, the national advisory body for theatres. The programme aims to help progress the restoration, reopening or revitalising At Risk theatres by funding expert support.

Burnley Empire TheatreBurnley Empire Theatre
Burnley Empire Theatre

‘Building worth saving’

Burnley Empire Trust chairman Sophie Gibson said: “This is fantastic news which means we can keep up the momentum towards a restored Burnley Empire, and continue to make positive progress in the right direction.

“All of the trustees are working so hard to ensure that this venue is put back into community use and the support we’ve received from the Theatres Trust is incredibly encouraging and really shows to those watching that we have a building worth saving.”


The interior of the Burnley Empire TheatreThe interior of the Burnley Empire Theatre
The interior of the Burnley Empire Theatre

Theatres Trust Director Jon Morgan said: “We believe every theatre on our Theatres at Risk list has the potential to be returned for use by their communities, providing performance venues of types currently lacking in their local areas and bringing much needed footfall to town centres.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Theatres Trust is delighted to support Burnley Empire with this project that will help it move a step closer to its ultimate goal.”

Read More
Majority of Burnley public supports ongoing restoration works at Grade II listed...

The other theatres to receive funding in this round are Derby Hippodrome, Doncaster Grand, Margate Theatre Royal, Morecambe Winter Gardens, Salford Victoria and Tameside Hippodrome.

The theatres are all on the Theatres at Risk Register 2023, published by Theatres Trust in February, which highlights and supports theatres across the country that are at risk of closure or demolition, and which have architectural and community merit.

Resilient Theatres: Resilient Communities programme is funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Pilgrim Trust and Swire Charitable Trust.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad


The Burnley Empire was built in 1894 by G B Rawcliffe, with the auditorium reconstructed in 1911 by renowned theatre designer and architect Bertie Crewe. It is Burnley’s only Grade II listed purpose-built Edwardian theatre, the only venue of its kind in East Lancashire and one of very few designed by Crewe remaining throughout the whole of the UK.

Burnley Empire has a high level of architectural interest and retains most of the original structure and elaborate detail with robust and richly formed plasterwork in a Classical style. Currently in poor condition, the building was once described by critiques as the ‘prettiest’ and ‘finest theatre in the North’.

Originally built as a Music Hall of Variety the Empire went on to operate as a cinema then Bingo Hall, until its closure in 1995.