I recently attended a meeting of the “Trustees” of the Burnley Empire Theatre.
I know that Burnley has many fine and good people, and in this regard the meeting did not disappoint.
Never a truer nor more inspiring group of individuals could be found from Blackpool to Barlick.
The Burnley Empire Theatre is at present boarded up and very neglected, but if these ‘clarion thespians’ have their way then the town would have a regeneration of the whole of lower St James as a knock-on effect of bringing this gem of a theatre back into public use.
Firstly, the Empire Theatre is one of very few of the Empire chain to survive in its original form, which is why the nationwide Theatres Trust is so supportive of the project.
JB Priestley wrote of the sad decline of these popular theatres in his book Lost Empires.
Among many greats, Charlie Chaplin was discovered there after which he made his way to Hollywood.
Charlie often spoke nostalgically in his later years of his fun times on the circuit of Northern Empires.
The building itself is part of the social and cultural fabric of Burnley, and should not be allowed to fall down, or be pulled down.
It could be saved for far less than the present council plans of repedestrianising St James as is happening at the moment.
Burnley Empire has great potential to be a big music venue and would become a commercial success just like the Plaza in Stockport.
On top of which it would lead to the rejuvenation of the whole area of lower St James where there is a neglected and taty aspect.
Halifax nearly pulled down the Piece Hall and Todmorden nearly demolished its covered market due to council myopia. Today such things would be heresy in conservation and tourist-rich Calderdale.
Let us all support this great happy venture by these great Burnleyites. They need help of all kinds, so kindly visit them on Facebook.
Together Lets Make Burnley Great Again!