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  1. The Theatre opened on Monday the 29th of October 1894 with a variety show and could originally seat 1,935 people. In 1909, it was taken over by James Pringle and films were then part of the programme. The auditorium was reconstructed in 1911, to the plans of noted theatre architect Bertie Crewe and seating increased to 1,808. Re-opening on 11th September 1911, it then remained the leading theatre in Burnley until 1930. The Empire Theatre was closed in June 1955, but reopened under the independent Buxton Cinemas chain in December 1955. Sold to the Star Cinemas chain in December 1958, it became a bingo club in the mid-1960’s, when the bingo operation was transfered from the nearby Palace-Hippodrome Theatre. The Empire Theatre was designated a Grade II Listed building by English Heritage in 1996. The building still stands unused. The future of one of Burnley’s most historic theatres is under threat after falling into a “dangerous†state. The former Empire Theatre in St James’s Street needs urgent repair work carrying out on the crumbling Victorian structure. Council officials have erected safety fencing around the Grade II listed building which has been named in the Theatre Trust’s top 10 at risk theatres in Britain since 2006. The “unknown†owners have been issued with a court summons over the condition of the property which officials papers said was “dangerous and requiring part demolition and works to ensure safety.†Fears are the deteriorating state of the Empire could sadly mean the final curtain for the 120-year old building which was once the pinnacle of Burnley’s entertainment scene. Roger Frost, chairman of the Burnley Civic Trust, fears for the future of the Theatre which has stood empty for nearly 20 years. “It has been an absolutely splendid building – when it was in its prime it was better than the Grand at Blackpool.†Pitch black inside, it was a sod to lightpaint, mainly 'cos I'm crap at it. Cheers
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