Burnley Empire Theatre included on 'Theatres at Risk Register'

Burnley's historic Empire Theatre has been placed on the national Theatres at Risk Register for 2020.

Friday, 31st January 2020, 3:02 pm
Updated Friday, 31st January 2020, 3:02 pm
The Burnley Empire. Ben Hamlen North Films

The register, compiled by the Theatres Trust, highlights theatres across the UK that are under threat of closure, redevelopment or demolition.

Last Spring, Burnley Empire Trust, set up to save the theatre in Cow Lane, was awarded a Theatres at Risk Capacity Building Programme grant from Theatres Trust.

The Trust received expert support through the programme enabling essential building condition survey works to be commissioned and carried out.

Members of the Burnley Empire Trust, Theatres Trust and National Trust

Sophie Gibson, Burnley Empire Trust chairman, said: “Thanks to the support received from the Theatres at Risk Capacity Building Programme, we were able to appoint the necessary expertise to enable essential survey works to be commissioned and carried out alongside the National Lottery Heritage Grant awarded last year in partnership with National Trust.

"Theatres Trust have been an invaluable source of support throughout our journey and we are very much looking forward to making further progress this year along with continued support from Burnley Council, National Trust and Theatresearch.

"I’m sure 2020 will be an interesting year for the Empire and we’ll look forward to sharing final results from all works carried out once completed.

"As always BET champion the reuse of the historic venue for the local community making Burnley a better place to live, work and visit thanks to the help and support from Theatres Trust.”

The stage of the former Empire Theatre. Ben Hamlen North Films

Grade II-listed Burnley Empire, the town’s last surviving purpose-built Victorian theatre, received funding and expert support through the programme.

Built in 1894, the auditorium was reconstructed in 1911 by eminent theatre architect Bertie Crewe and survives in its original elaborate form with its distinct Crewe interior.

The theatre, which once sold out a performance by famed escapologist Harry Houdini, has remained empty since 1995 but was bought by the community group Burnley Empire Trust in December 2018 with Theatres Trust support.