Empress Cinema

Burnley, BB11

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Empress Cinema

The Empress Picture House was opened in 1912. In 1914 it was extended to accommodate 1,100. Seating was provided in stalls and circle levels and the proscenium was 24 feet wide. It was operated by J. Bradley and became the flagship cinema in the local Bradley Circuit. By 1931 it had been equipped with a Western Electric(WE) sound system.

The Empress Cinema was badly damaged by a fire on 2nd April 1950, which destroyed the roof. It was repaired and re-opened on 14th April 1952. The Empress Cinema was closed in the 1960’s and was converted into a bingo club. After closing, it stood empty for several years and was eventually demolished.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

HJHill on January 17, 2015 at 7:11 am

The pointer on the map is on the wrong (i.e. north east) part of what was Sandygate.

Today (2015), Sandygate has a T junction with Trafalgar Street. Previously, this was a cross roads with Sandygate continuing, south west, up the hill past Coal Clough Lane to the junction at the Angel Inn. Most of this stretch of Sandygate has gone; and what remains is now part of Burnham Gate.

Web sites of Burnley people reminiscing have mentions of the Empress being “near the Angel Inn”, “at the junction of Coal Clough Lane and Burnham Gate”, and next to the “Duckett Sanitaryware complex”. In the streetview (2014?), the low, red, industrial unit is on the sanitaryware complex site; the higher, grey industrial shed is more than likely on the site of the Empress.

HJHill on January 17, 2015 at 1:00 pm

THE EMPRESS OPENED IN 1912: At a licensing magistrates' hearing on Wednesday 11 December 1912 the magistrates considered Joseph Bradley’s application for a “cinematograph licence for the premises, Empress Picture House, in Sandy Gate”. Bradley already had a music licence.

“The cinematograph licence was granted until December 31st.”

THE ENLARGEMENT WAS 1919/20: The first licence application to enlarge the Empress was heard on Wednesday 14 June 1919. The architect for the work was Mr G Keighley. “It was intended to make the balcony circular, and the alterations would, amongst other things, provide two additional exits both from the gallery (note: ‘gallery’) and from the building”. Seating would increase by 150. The decision was postponed two weeks for the architect to submit full plans, not just the alterations. The works had been done by February 1920.

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