Palace-Hippodrome Theatre

33 St. James's Street,
Burnley, BB11 1PA

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Palace-Hippodrome Theatre

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The Palace-Hippodrome Theatre was built as a variety theatre for the MacNaghten Vaudeville Circuit. It was opened on 2nd December 1907. The facade was 80 feet wide, and there was an original seating capacity for 2,200 in stalls, circle gallery & boxes. The proscenium was 32 feet wide and the stage 29 feet deep. There were twelve dressing rooms. It was equipped to screen films from its opening, when they formed a bill in the variety programme.

In the 1920’s, films were screened some weeks of the year. It was equipped to screen ‘talkies’ in January 1931, and in February 1931, it was taken over by the Associated British Cinemas(ABC) chain. Passing over to Regent Cinemas, a subsidiary of ABC, it was later taken over by the independent Buxton Cinemas chain.

In late-1939, it was taken over by new operators and reverted back to live theatre use. Returning to Buxton Cinemas again in 1947, it went back to screening films.

The auditorium was completely modernised in 1954 when it was converted to screen CinemaScope, and a 45 feet wide screen was installed. Stage shows were occasionally still held in the theatre, as in 1958, stripper Phyllis Dixie appeared for one week, and local comedian Jimmie Clitheroe topped the bill for a week.

The Palace-Hippodrome Theatre was sold to the Star Cinemas chain in December 1958. A pantomime was staged in January 1959, and several pop shows starring Cliff Richard, Marty Wilde & Wee Willie Harris appeared, as well as use by the Burnley Light Opera Company.

In 1962, it was converted into a Silver Dollar Bingo Club. After a few years, the bingo club transfered to the former Empire Theatre and the Palace-Hippodrome Theatre was left empty and unused. There were hopes that it would be purchased by the local Council as a civic theatre, but this was not to be and it was demolished in 1973.

A Woolworth’s store was built on the site.

Contributed by Ken Roe
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