Roxy Cinema

Ormerod Street,
Burnley, BB11 1EP

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Roxy Cinema

This is, possibly, the first permanent cinema venue in Burnley.

As happened elsewhere, moving picture shows initially arrived as temporary events set up in local halls. Examples would be the Alliance Animated Picture Co. Ltd. who exhibited at the Mechanics Institution; and Messrs A & H Andrews who presented Andrews Animated Pictures at the start of 1909 (and possibly earlier) in the Church Institute on Ormerod Street. The Church Institute was a Victorian public hall which hosted lectures, political meetings, musical recitals, etc; and moving pictures.

At some stage Andrews Animated Pictures became a permanent fixture at the Church Institute; and in Kinematograph Year Book for 1914 they are one of seven entries for Burnley. The Church Institute is the given ‘address’ and its capacity is 1,200. The proprietor is listed as N. Tomlinson.

In KYB 1927 and 1928 it is still ‘Andrews Picture House’ at the Church Institute and the proprietors are Andrews Cinemas (Burnley) Ltd., with H. Lyons as the manager. In KYB 1929 the manager is not named.

Sound debuted on Monday 29th September 1930 with “Hurricane” starring Hobart Bosworth. Its UK release had been on 6th June 1930. The Andrews was advertising as the Andrews Cinema, though the KYB kept it as the Andrews Picture House. A British Thomson-Houston system had been installed. (BTH was a Rugby-based UK subsidiary of US General Electric created in 1894, it became wholly UK owned in 1928 and merged with Metropolitan-Vickers to form Associated Electrical Industries (AEI). BTH was a major UK manufacturer of cinema projectors and sound systems. They were famous for their radical SUPA (Single Unit Projection Assembly) in the 1950’s; their last hurrah.)

KYB 1935 records the Andrews Picture Theatre capacity as 450, which does not look right (see later). Ownership was with J. Livesey Cook. KYB 1936 mentions 1,000 seats. The 1937, 1938 and 1939 listings are the same.

At the beginning of December 1938, the Andrews Picture Theatre closed, with no announcement. A couple of weeks later, on 17th December 1938, the local paper reported the matter: the cinema had been acquired by ‘the Buxton Theatre Circuit’ and would reopen on Monday 19th December 1938, after unspecified improvements, with the new name Roxy Cinema.

KYB 1940 still has the name as Andrews Picture Theatre, but the owners are Blackburn Entertainments Ltd. head-quartered at the Roxy Cinema, Blackburn. Seating is now 890. Ownership information is slightly changed in KYB 1942: Harold Thornber, Roxy Cinema, Blackburn.

KYB 1945 lists the venue as Roxy Cinema with the proprietors as Astley & Green Ltd. of 3 Richmond Terrace, Blackburn. Seating falls to 820 in KYB 1947.

KYB 1954 lists 700 seats and the owners as Roxy Cinema (Burnley) Ltd. of 11 Albert Square, Manchester.

The local newspaper of 11th December 1954 reported the installation of a wide screen. The cinema had been re-seated, reducing capacity from ‘about 800 to about 750’ and redecorated. £5,000 was the total cost. The ownership was also mentioned: “The cinema was purchased privately in August from Hurstdene Entertainments, Manchester, by Mr A.R. Hutchinson, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, formerly general manager of Essoldo Supplies Ltd”. The screen was reported as 32ft wide. Roxy Cinema advertising called it the ‘Giant Curved Panoramic Screen’. It debuted on Monday 13th December 1954 with Jane Russell in "The Outlaw”.

KYB 1957 confirms the last paragraph. Seating was 750, the proprietor A.R. Hutchinson, and there was a 30ft wide screen in a 31ft wide proscenium.

The cinema was destroyed by fire around 1960 and was not rebuilt. A nondescript building, with ground floor shop units (Brambles Tearooms, 2014) and offices above, occupies the site.

Contributed by H J Hill

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

HJHill
HJHill on January 21, 2015 at 11:59 am

In “Life In Victorian Preston” by David John Hindle he writes: “The first moving pictures in Burnley were shown in 1908 at the Andrews' Picture House”.

HJHill
HJHill on January 24, 2015 at 9:43 am

A February 1921 magistrates' survey of Burnley cinemas described the Andrews in the Church Institute as: ground floor 843; balcony 108; gallery 140 (total 1091). “It is understood that this hall at times gets very hot during a performance, which is probably owing to the fan not always being used. This should be attended to regularly.”

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