Sunday, 8 August 2010

The Cinemas & Theatres of Blackburn

''Saturday night at the movies, who cares what picture you see?''

In the 1950's, Blackburn had no fewer than 14 cinemas, or as most people called them, picture houses or indeed just 'the flicks'.
I have tried to gather together here, those 14 cinemas, but as quite a few of them were originally built as music hall and variety theatres, I felt obliged to title this posting 'The Cinemas & Theatres of Blackburn'. It is by no means complete, especially with regards the theatres. But my main aim was to try and get a photo of the ones that were purpose built as cinemas, became cinemas after being live theatres, or were once cinemas, but later used for other purposes.
As you will see below, there were actually 15 that acted as cinemas at some point, if we include The Grand.
They are in no particular order, but as the Rialto was arguably our finest, most luxurious, purpose built cinema, I have put it at the top. 
Most of the photos are courtesy of Cottontown.org, a couple are courtesy of the Lancashire Telegraph (via Cottontown) and the rest from other sources.
Information,  dates and trivia also came from a variety of sources, far too many to credit. But my thanks to them all and thanks also go to Mr John Stone, scholar of this parish, for his encouraging comments and suggestions whilst I was researching and compiling this post.
An early programme for The Rialto. A work of art in its own right. (image - The CP Collection)
The Rialto on Penny Street. Very Art Deco in appearance and in its day, probably Blackburn's plushest, purpose built cinema. (image - Cottontown.org)
Two tickets from The Rialto, dating back to 1951, kindly supplied by Susan Greenhalgh, who found them among her parents things. Susan suspects they were from a first date or an early date her mum and dad went on, as they weren't married until later. (image - S. Greenhalgh) 
The same cinema after it had changed its name to the Odeon. Like thousands of other Blackburn kids throughout the 1960's, I went here on a Saturday morning to the 'Odeon Club' or whatever they called it at the time. My eldest sister saw The Rolling Stones play at the Odeon on March 5th 1964, when she was 13.  (image - The CP Collection).
Kings Hall, later to be The Ritz on Bank Top, but known to locals at the time as the 'Scrat'.  A reference to its reputation as a flea pit, no doubt. The Ritz closed as a cinema in January 1958. This building now houses a branch of Tesco Express and you can still buy popcorn and soft drinks in there, though you have to bring your own torch these days. (image - Cottontown.org)
The Roxy on King Street, which is now Lomas Office Furniture Supplies. Up until a few years ago, you could still see its original name, The Regent, above the entrance doors. The Roxy closed in May 1961 to become a drapery store, going by the name of John Blundell Ltd.  (image - John Eddlestone/John Brown)
The Theatre Royal, which was on the curve of Ainsworth Street. The building pictured was actually a later theatre, which replaced a far earlier theatre, that was known to have been on this same plot since approximately the 1770's. Charlie Chaplin performed at this theatre above in 1903 and again in 1905, when he was a young actor. (image - The CP Collection).
This is the rear of a postcard advertising a 1910 performance of ''Charley's Aunt''
(Image - The CP collection)
A poster from the 1920's (Image - The CP Collection)
 A poster giving information about the Christmas pantomime of 1930
(Image - The CP Collection)
An advertisement from 1935 after the theatre had been modernised and turned into a cinema. (image - The CP Collection).
The Cinema Royal in the 1960's, not long before it was closed and then demolished to make way for the new shopping precint. Do you remember the subway that ran under that part of Ainsworth Street? Easy to forget they were ever there nowadays. (image - Lancashire Telegraph)
The Alexandra Picture Palace on Dock Street (off Eanam), previously known as Pendleton's Picture Palace which was abbreviated to 'Penks' by the good folk of Blackburn. (image - Cottontown.org).
Central Hall / New Central Hall on the corner of Mincing Lane & Mill Lane. From approximately 1900, through to 1909, the building was used as a roller skating rink. Roller skating was very popular during the early part of the 20th century. The Central closed as a cinema in 1957. It later became a bingo hall and then a snooker hall, which it still is today. (image  - Cottontown.org).
The Empire at Ewood.  Once known as The Empire Electric Theatre. In more recent times called The Red Brick Theatre, then Thwaites Red Brick Theatre and now The Thwaites Empire Theatre. (image - The CP Collection).
Advertising glass paperweight for the Empire Theatre (image - The CP Collection)
Most that are old enough to remember The Grand on Jubilee Street, probably remember it better as a live theatre, although it did operate as a cinema temporarily, from early 1930 until approximately autumn 1931 (which qualifies it to be listed here), when it returned once again to live entertainment. It carried on being a live venue until its closure in 1956, before finally being demolished in 1958.  In earlier times it had been called The Princes Theatre and The New Princes Theatre. It supposedly had a ghost. The Telephone Exchange was later built on the plot. (image - Lancashire Telegraph).
An old poster from 1935 for The Grand (image - The CP Collection).
A box office advertising card for The Grand - November 6th 1950 (image - The CP collection)
Circus time at The Grand (image - The CP Collection)
Programme for a performance of The Continental Ballet - 1954 (image - The CP Collection)
Three pantomime posters for performances at the Grand. Probably from the early 1950's (images - The CP Collection)
Originally built in the 1860's as the Cotton Exchange on King William Street, but used less and less as such as time marched on, due to the decline of the cotton industry.  By 1908 it had become a cinema. It was known back then as The Exchange Picture Hall.  It later became The Majestic Cinema in 1924 and then The New Majestic in 1932. The name changed yet again in 1954 to the Essoldo (which it probably was when both these photographs were taken). It then became The Classic in 1967.  In 1981, Unit 4 Cinemas had control of it and then finally in 1992, it became The Apollo.  Sadly, this lovely old building closed its doors in 2005 and hasn't re-opened, though part of it is still used as a restaurant and bar. (images - The CP Collection).

Advertisement from when the cinema was The Exchange (Picture) Hall (image -  Eric Leaver & the Lancashire Evening Telegraph)
In 1895, even the Rovers made use of the Exchange Hall, with a four day bazaar, trying to raise much needed funds, as at the time, the 20 year old club had a £1,400 debt hanging over them (image The CP Collection). 
An information card, dating from October 1932 (Image - The CP Collection)
Poster for the cinema when it was The New Majestic. (image - The CP Collection)
A couple of advertising billboards at the top of Town Hall Street, one for the Ewood Empire and the other for the Essoldo (You Can't Have A Night Out With The Telly - Come To The Pictures). The turreted roof  you can see above them, is on top of the main entrance to the Essoldo.
(image courtesy of J. Eddleston)
The Olympia Opera House / New Olympia / The Olympia, on St Peter's Street. This building became a dance hall / night club in more recent decades (well, from about 1960, I think).  It was then, among other names, The Locarno, The Mecca, The Golden Palms, Jumpin' Jax and is now called something like Liquid & Envy. (image - Cottontown.org).
Like the nearby New Central Hall, in the early part of the 20th century (1900 - 1910), the building had been an ice skating rink, having been converted from the stables that had served The Old Bull Hotel. 
A photo taken in 1959, when the Olympia was being converted into a dance hall (the Locarno). Note the addition of the canopy. I stood under there a few times myself, waiting to get in when it was the Mecca. (image - The Blackburn Times)
The Savoy on Bolton Road can boast the screening of the very first 'talkie' in Blackburn, back in 1929. I'm not sure when this ceased to be a cinema, but I personally remember the Savoy as a hall / venue where a variety of bands played in the 70's, 80's and 90's. We had some great nights up there back then. I think it was later used as a gymnasium and then a carpet warehouse, which it possibly still is today. (image - Cottontown.org).
A cutting from a local newspaper, promoting the 1930's film 'The Silent Voice' starring George Arliss, courtesy of Blackburn Reference Library & Richey Pull.
(image - R. Pull)
This is The Star on Plane Street - Little Harwood, which later became a nightclub / cabaret club. It then returned to being a cinema in the 1970's and was known as The Unit Four, so called because it was a multi screen venue. Thinking about it, probably the first multi screen cinema Blackburn had. (image - Cottontown.org).
Another, quite early image of the Star Picture Palace, possibly taken just after it had opened. (image courtesy of the CP Collection)
Two local newspaper clippings about the opening of The Star, courtesy of Blackburn Reference Library & Richey Pull.
(image - R. Pull) 
This is The Victoria, which stood at Eanam Bridge (over the canal), on the corner of Higher Barn Street.  Sometimes called Charnleys.  Again, I think because the proprietor was named Charnley. This cinema collapsed into a huge hole or something, as it had been built over an old brewery well, according to the information on Cottontown. Cracks started appearing in the walls in early 1960 and by March of that year, they were struggling to open some internal doors, due to subsidence. The cinema was closed for inspection soon after and never re-opened. (image - Frederick N. T. Lloyd Jones & Cottontown.org).
Another view of The Victoria, looking from the Higher Eanam / Copy Nook side. (image - John Eddlestone / John Brown).
The Palace on the Boulevard (up for sale in this photo) went from being The Palace of Varieties Theatre to being a cinema, then a bingo hall / cinema, then back to being just a cinema. The Grand was siuated just behind this. (Image - Lancashire Telegraph)
A sepia image of the original architects drawing for the proposed theatre.
(Image the CP collection)
A programme from 1919. Note the plug at the bottom for a local decorating firm. (Image - The CP Collection) 
This is the cover of a theatre programme for the palace, from February 1929 (image the CP collection)
The Palace in 1914 (upper image of the three) and a couple of even earlier postcard images, all when it was still a theatre. A few years before the upper photo was taken, William Hope Hodgson the science fiction writer, who ran a 'School of Physical Culture' in Blackburn at the time, chained and bound the famous escapologist Harry Houdini on stage in here during one of his performances. Hodgson, having a scientific knowledge of the human body and muscle structure chained Houdini so well, it took him 2 hours to escape.  Because of that incident, Houdini in his biography, spoke of Blackburn as being ''A town full of hoodlums'' or words to that effect. He wasn't a happy chap that night, by all accounts and said he ''had never been so brutally treated in 14 years of performances'' and swore that he would never to return to the town. Soft beggar. (images - The CP Collection).
As you can see from the article which accompanied it, this is a photo (above) of the Palladium at Mill Hill just prior to it being converted into a Co-op store (images & article - Courtesy of Eric Leaver and the Lancashire Eveneing Telegraph). The Palladium, known to some in its time as the 'Pall-Ad' (sometimes pronounced Plad), closed due to dwindling audiences on May 7th 1962 and as it says in the article, it opened as the Co-op in the spring of 1963.
 As it looks today - 2011, now a Spar (image - The CP Collection).

I'll also add a photo of The Vue (Now added, please see below) sometime, when I get around to taking a shot of it.
I think then, the list of Blackburn cinemas will be almost complete. Films were no doubt screened at other venues over the decades and perhaps for an admission fee. The Queens Hall, the old YMCA, the community theatre(s), school halls, library theatres and such are known to have projected the odd 'movie'. But the ones pictured above were the ones used as commercial cinemas and fondly remembered as such, by many.

I'm 52 years old (as I type) and I'm surprised at how many of the buildings above I have been inside. Not all of them to see films admittedly, but I did see films in The Odeon, The Royal, The Palace, The Essoldo and The Unit Four. But I have also been inside The Roxy (when it was a furniture store), The Olympia (when it was The Mecca / Golden Palms / Jumpin' Jax), the nearby Central Hall (while it's been a snooker hall), The Savoy (to see bands), Kings Hall (it's a Tesco I use regularly), The Palladium (A Spar shop I've visited) and The Empire (whilst I worked for the college and I also have vague memories of seeing a pantomime in there when I was a kid).
This is the 'Vue' cinema on Lower Audley, adjacent to the railway station. I think it is now Blackburn's only cinema. Photo taken 27th February 2011 (image - The CP Collection).
Above is an extract from the Kinema Directory of 1947 listing details of 11 of Blackburn's cinemas of the time (and one Whalley cinema).
Courtesy of John

PHOTOS COURTESY OF COTTONTOWN MAINLY, BUT ALSO OTHER SOURCES. SEE INDIVIDUAL IMAGES FOR DETAILS.
INFORMATION FROM A VARIETY OF SOURCES.

103 comments:

  1. Amazing stuff, well done for putting all this together.

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    1. I worked in the Royal Cinema in 1964 until it closed, then the Odeon until that closed. The Royal had a plush Café. The Odeon was a fully equipped Theatre with a Fly Tower. As well as a huge cinema screen with stereophonic sound, it had a huge Ballroom called 'Victor Sylvestor' The Odeon was a multi-use building, the like we will never see again. They were incredible buildings with facilities now only found in the West End in London. Blackburn had its heart ripped out in the 1960's- they must have all been on LSD!!! Burnley even put the market UPSTAIRS!!! Now that's closed.

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    2. Thanks for the info. When the Rolling Stones appeared at the Odeon, would they have played on the stage in front of the main screen or did they play in the huge ballroom you mention. I'm assuming the ballroom would have had a stage of some sort for the dance bands / cabaret acts or whoever entertained in the ballroom.

      Did any other noteworthy groups of the 1960's play at the Odeon ? It seems odd that only the Stones played there. My eldest sister, who is now 63 went to the Stones gig.

      Regards.

      Colin

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  2. Cheers Richard. I'm glad you liked it. It's taken me about a month to gather it all together, but I had been working on it for about 3 months (on and off). Would have been nice to get hold of an old photo of The Palladium at Mill Hill, so if you come across one anytime, please let me know.

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  3. Well done Colin it's been well worth waiting for Bud.
    I can remember going into the Essoldo via the front entrance as a Kid in the late 50's early 60's, and just as the film was finshing "Legging it" before the National Anthem started!! But I seem to recall that instead of going out the same way as we went in, we went out by a rear exit door which led out onto Northgate just behind what used to be "The Grapes".

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  4. Cheers John. I remember coming out of another entrance of THe Essoldo, either up a flight of steps or down a flight (definitely recall steps), but can't remember if we emerged onto King W. St or if we came out of a ginnel onto Town Hall Street. In later times, when it was THe Classic, we came out via the main entrance again.

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  5. I've just been looking at the Roxy Photo Colin, and I was intrigued by the building just to the left of it. It's frontage seems equally impressive as the Roxy's, but what was it?
    I should really be ashamed for not knowing because I went St Peter's C of E School just round the corner on Byrom St in the early 60's

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  6. I had to check my directories for this one John.
    It's not in the 1894 one. In the 1925 one, it's The People's Mission and in the 1951 directory, it's the premises of a ''motor engineer''

    So I'm guessing it was built after 1895 sometime as The People's Mission, then fell into disuse and eventually the building was used for other purposes. I think I've seen other photos of it when it was the ''motor engineer'' (garage).

    The cinema is listed as The Regent in the 1925 directory and by the time of the 1951 directory, it's The Roxy.

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    1. Ref: Roxy Cinema and next door premises.

      In the early 50’s my uncle owned and operated the Roxy cinema. My father – his brother – managed it for him.
      I can confirm that the building next door, to the left whilst looking from the front, was indeed at that time a motor vehicle service/repair business operating under the name of (if memory serves me) ‘Roxy Service Station’
      I have been in the premises many times. The entrance for vehicles was just to the left of the Morris 1000 in the photograph – up a ramp (two petrol pumps inside on the right) and into the auditorium where all the seats had been removed. The premises had clearly been built as a public hall/theatre/cinema, as there were the remnants of a rather ornate three sided balcony much like the one in King Georges Hall, but of course, much smaller.
      The stage had also been removed and what I assume had been the ‘orchestra pit’ had been bridged with several ‘U’ section RSJ’s enabling vehicles to be driven over the ‘pit’ for the mechanics to stand and work beneath them.
      I think, but I’m not sure, that the owner of the ‘Roxy Service Station’ at that time was a Mr Tattersall or Tunnicliffe or Tunstall.
      Hope this was of interest to you.

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    2. That is interesting, but as mentioned above, in the 1925 directory for Blackburn, it has that smaller premises, to the left of the main Roxy building as The People's Mission, ie some sort of chapel (I presume). Would a small chapel/place of worship/meeting hall not also have an area where the seats had been ripped out (pews possibly?) a small balcony (as in St John's Church), a stage ( possibly more a podium or platform).

      I'm pretty certain that the larger, adjoining premises in the photo, the one set back a few yards, was the cinema. In the above photo, you can still see the word Roxy above what I assume would be the entrance.

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    3. I've just been studying the the OS maps. The 1910 one isn't very clear, there just appears to be a series of normal sized properties along that stretch of King St (between Byrom St & Harrison St), but on the 1929 edition of the OS map, it shows the cinema (marked as 'Picture Theatre') quite clearly and also the building next door, which although isn't marked as The People's Mission (it isn't marked at all), you can see it is a total separate property. There is just a dark black line between the two buildings, ie an adjoining wall. If that building had have been a part of the cinema, then the words 'Picture Theatre' on the 1929 map, would have also covered that building too.

      So I'll stick with my original thoughts, that the ornate building in the photo above, to the left of the Morris Minor, which was indeed a garage when the photo was taken, would originally have been built as The People's Mission and nothing to do with the cinema.

      If as you think, that with it having the balcony etc, you think that it was the cinema (or part of) then why wouldn't it be marked as such on the OS map. The larger building in the photo, with the Morris Minor in front of it, the building set back from the pavement, does have 'Picture Theatre' on it on the map.

      The Regent/Roxy wasn't built until 1920, which is why it isn't on the earlier OS map, but is on the 1929 one. The People's Mission doesn't look to be on the earlier map either, but the premises, although unmarked, is on the later (1929) map.

      My theory is, a lot, if not all, of the premises on the earlier map, were demolished circa the First World War years and new buildings built there. The cinema being one and the People's Mission being another. For whatever reason (lack of attendance maybe) within a few decades, the People's Mission became the garage. In my 1951 directory that premises is a motor engineers (w.J. Kelly) and the next building along is still a cinema. As mentioned under the photo above, it continued being a cinema until 1961.

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  7. I've just Googled some of the acts which are listed on the 1935 poster of the Grand Colin, and they make interesting reading
    (Sad I know)
    This is an extract for one of the Artist's shown on the Bill called Ida Barr.

    "The strapping daughter of an Army sergeant-major, Maud Barlow saved her father's blushes by adopting the name Maude Laverne on making her Music Hall debut in 1897. Eleven years later she became Ida Barr, her six feet of solid femininity prompting the comment "Ida Bar? She could 'Ida bloomin' pub!"

    O/K It's a corny joke, but it does give a bit of history to the poster.

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  8. It was 7:30am when I read your comment John and I was only half awake. I had to read that remark about Ida 3 times before it sank in.

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  9. Looking at the Photo of the Tram going down Eanam past the Victoria Cinema,it must have been one hell of a scary ride for the driver in the snow.
    Can you please at least have a wash and shave Colin before reading my comments, as I put a lot of time and effort into posting them. ;)

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  10. It must have been even scarier after the Victoria sank into a bottomless pit. The driver must have been into the head office the following day saying ''If you think I'm trundling 10 tonnes of metal over that bridge anymore you can sod off and I'll not be picking up that fat bloke at the Copy Nook stop anymore, tell him to start walking to town''

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  11. Do you think any of the Roxy's ornate facade is behind the corrugated new front to Lomas Office Supplies or do you think it's all just gone? It'd be great if it was still there...although, I'm sure Lomas wouldn't be too bothered about it...

    I saw a Mitchell and Kenyon film at the Thwaites Empire in March this year - nice that one of the above is still occasionally showing films.

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  12. A promotional poster for Lost In A Harem, the film showing at The Scrat at the time the photo was taken!

    Have you any interior shots of these?

    http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1188/569326282_a71d19ddc5.jpg%3Fv%3D0&imgrefurl=http://flickr.com/photos/96077146%40N00/569326282/&usg=__PY6n-OuxrmkbqNNjN8KopZp86ds=&h=391&w=500&sz=167&hl=en&start=0&zoom=0&tbnid=Fb9kTa5TS0qV-M:&tbnh=102&tbnw=130&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dlost%2Bin%2Ba%2Bharem%2B1944%2Bfilm%2Bposter%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26biw%3D932%26bih%3D678%26tbs%3Disch:1&um=1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=322&vpy=109&dur=1094&hovh=102&hovw=130&tx=81&ty=58&ei=kyeGTMr0GceOswbX_JGaBQ&oei=kyeGTMr0GceOswbX_JGaBQ&esq=1&page=1&ndsp=22&ved=1t:429,r:1,s:0

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  13. Hi Lorcan

    There probably is some of the facade of the Roxy behind the modern cladding or whatever it is. They normally just cover things up when they do anything like that.

    I don't personally have any internal shots of any of the cinemas. I think there's a few of the palace on the Blackburn Now & Then site (during demolition) and there's possibly the odd few on Cottontown.

    It is good that the Empire still shows a film every now and again. The Grand in Clitheroe tried to resurrect regular screenings a few years ago, but I think it died a death, though they are still using the Grand as a live venue (Dodgy were on the other week). Talking of Clitheroe, have a look at a site called Old Clitheroe sometime, well worth checking out, if you know the town at all.

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  14. I went into Lomas office supplies a few weeks ago, and the manager seemed pretty certain that that cladding was all there was and that behind the cladding is just the steel framework that holds it in place. A shame really. The co-op looks quite exciting in the artists imprwession - very jetsons! It seems to still have some of the features (albeit covered up by the modern spar frontage). There must be some pictures out there of the newly opened co-op from the 60s?

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  15. Colin, Have you seen this?

    http://www.taylorweaver.co.uk/PropertySheet.aspx?property=384

    I'd like to see some pictures from the inside before it was stripped out!

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  16. Hi -- No I hadn't seen it before, so thanks for the link. I agree it would have been interesting to see some images of the place before it was stripped out. Sorry your link doesn't appear properly. I've tried copying & pasting it, but it just comes out the same. Not sure why that is.

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  17. There was a cafe over the Royal and a group of friends and I went there with our babies in 1962/3 I would take the big pram on the train from Mill Hill and meet my friends in the Royal for coffee those were the days !!!

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    1. I bet I met up with you in the café over the royal, I also used to go there with my High coach built pram in 1963, my baby was Mark

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    2. Myself and Mike Robbins frequented the Cinema Royal café every Saturday for coffee and toasted teacakes after a swim at the old Freckleton Street Baths (remember those?). Then off to Joe's snooker hall on Water Street before going to a football match in the afternoon. What memories!

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  18. The steps came out on King William Street facein wot is now estate agents Blackburnlad. I remember usein them myself.

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  19. billy

    i remember seeing jason and the argonuats at the empire in ewood it must of been in use in the 70s as born in 74 still can remember it inside now

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  20. I think it re-opened as a cinema on and off throughout its life Billy. I read a brief history of it somewhere a few months ago, on their own website I think, and it was also the only place that was showing Bollywood films for the Asian community in the 1970's.

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  21. Hi there blackburnlad,

    I am very impressed, the information you have gathered has put blackburn back on the map. My team our doing a project for University developing a site specific brief based on cinema in our local area. we (as a group of 4) are to create a proposal to present to a panel.

    We are recreating blackburn cinema for what it once was (many of the cinemas now are used as shops and so on quite boring places), by means of using possible QR codes we can relate to a designed website to show the transition from present to past, injecting life back into them once fantastic sociable cinema, as well as making it a fun historical interaction for all ages.

    with your permission of course, can we use your findings and also additional help and information would be very much appreciated.

    Many thanks
    Ian

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  22. Hi Ian

    I'm glad you enjoyed the cinema post. I hadn't a clue what a QR code was, so Googled it. After reading a couple of articles, I'm still not much wiser ;-)

    As you've probably gathered, many of the images above are courtesy of others, ie the Cottontown website and the Lancashire Telegraph (c/o Cottontown) and they own the copyright(s).

    If you just want to link to my blog/site and there's no copyright infringement to any of the owners, I'm sure you'll be fine. But if there's any commercial aspect to what you're doing, then you'll probably need to seek permission directly from the individuals and organisations.

    If you want to send me an e-mail address in a message, I'll reply. Your e-mail address wont be published.

    Not too sure I'll be able to offer anymore info on the cinemas. I'm no authority on them. I just thought it would make an interesting post for my site, so tracked down some old photos and did a little research.

    Kind regards.

    Colin

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  23. Hi Colin,
    Just been into your blog on the cinemas and theatres and found it quite facinating. Thanks for your efforts in gathering together the information and details, it helped me resolve a query I had regarding the Victoria on higher Eanam

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    1. Are you the Jim Campbell who lived at the top of Balaclava Street and had a horse and cart?

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  24. Thanks for the kind comments Jim and glad to have been of some help.

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  25. Hi Colin.

    Just great,, Ive just been down memory lane..

    Thanks again

    Mike

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  26. Some interesting stuff here...I don't think it is the Rialto - I'm pretty sure it is the cinema Royal....

    http://www.ribapix.com/index.php?a=wordsearch&s=gallery&w=rialto+blackburn&go.x=11&go.y=11

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  27. Hi Lorcan - Yeah I'm with you, I'm pretty certain it's the Royal. Sorry about your link not appearing as a link in your comment. I've tried everything, but for some reason they no longer appear. If anyone is interested in seeing the photos Lorcan has sent, just copy & paste his link into your Menu bar (or whatever it's called) and hit search.

    Cheers Lorcan

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  28. Hi Colin terrific job as usual the trouble is that I can remember them all as they were Keep up the good work
    John Cox (coxatpriory@btinternet.com)

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  29. Thanks John. It gets a lot of page views this post, so you're probably not alone in remembering them all. I just remember a handful.

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  30. wow brought back some great memories viewing these pictures,the savoy on bolton road was once a pool and snooker club cant remember the dates about late eighties 90s i think, but i still have my membership for it somewere, it was owned by a family of builders who also built the islington motel into what it is today.

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  31. End of another era. In another couple of wks no more 35mm will play in either Accrington or Blackburn as both are going fully digital.

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  32. I wasn't aware of that. Thanks for the info!

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  33. the sight needs updating,,its becoming stale,,

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  34. I updated it on the 5th June (three days ago). Like most things badfinger, it requires time and effort. I don't have as much time to devote to it these days (ie finding photos, doing the research, composing the text etc).

    It is what it is. It's there if folks want to browse, research or comment and I will keep adding to it, as and when I can (but it isn't going to rule my life).

    According to my stats, it averages 150-250 visits per day. It's been less while the weather has been fine, which is understandable, but had 172 visits on Friday, so it's back up to the average.

    A friend of mine runs a site about old Clitheroe. He hasn't updated anything in about 4 years, but he leaves it 'live' on the net (at his own expense), so others can still view it at their leisure. That's basically what I intend to do with this site, though I do still add to it occasionally.

    ReplyDelete
  35. thanks for the reply, l can appreciate all the effort involved but compared to the original blackburn now and then this just dosnt cut it,lm from the 60s so old 60s blackburn is my comfort zone, copy nook eanam lambeth st etc, the odeon saturday matinee,,,great stuff,the town today lm afraid just aint the blackburn l grew to love,,,

    ReplyDelete
  36. Well to be blunt, this blog/site has sweet FA to do with the Blackburn Now & Then site, so making comparisons is a bit futile. This site is nothing more than a look back at some aspects of Blackburn's past (as it says on the tin).

    If you want a site like the old BN&T, then why not create one yourself. Personally, I thought that site was great for the first 6 months or so, but due to crap administration and the fact that a bunch of bores were allowed to dominate the comments, with their inane and incessant reminiscing about the 1950's and 1960's, banging on about who they once lived next door to on Harwood St, went to school with at St Pater's, drank with in the Grapes etc, it very soon descended into a second rate Friends Reunited.

    For people with a genuine interest in the history of the town, it became very stale and seeing as it was those type of people that had contributed the most, with their old photos and 'now' photos and informative comments, it very soon became stagnant, as none of the bores mentioned in the paragraph above EVER made any effort to contribute. All they wanted to do, was talk endlessly about themselves.

    So quite appropriately, the founder of that site (Darren) pulled the plug on it and suggested that if all they wanted to do was talk about themselves, they could do so on Facebook. Which is exactly what they did. Facebook is free, so doesn't cost Darren anything and he has far less responsibilty for the administration.

    There's loads of other groups on Facebook, with hundreds of members that will be happy to chat long into the night with you about 1960's Copy Nook, the Odeon and whatever, if that's what you seek. They do seem to end up arguing a lot on certain groups on FB, but those groups tend to consist of the folks that ensured the demise of the BN&T site, they seem to like arguing about life's trivialities.

    I'm sorry Blackburn is no longer the town you grew to love, but time marches on and things change, not always for the better admittedly, but there's not much we can do about that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. that was very refreshing, you make valid points and that is what l like to see,lm not interested in facebook or any other gossip medium, but l am interested in old blackburn and we all know things move on in the name of progress but at the same time that dosnt mean we have to agree with the modern set up as l have found on so many occasions it just does not come up to scratch, conservation has its place in society just as modernism has, but you cannot dismiss either,,

      Delete
  37. Hope l can clarify one or two things,,first of all if l could create my own blackburn websight l would, the thing is l am not that savvy on the computer, plus the fact l am very busy doing more important things as life tends to dictate, l will say one thing that must surely apply and that is freedom of speech and complete freedom to put up on any websight what the hell you want to within reason, if you cant then what is the point ? we are all individual and we must be allowed to express whatever we want to even if it means we have a preference for earlier standards and moral fortitude,,

    ReplyDelete
  38. I didn't say we have to agree with the changes, I said there's not much we can do about it.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Believe me badfinger, you don't have to be too computer savvy to create a blog (call it a site if you prefer), if I can do it, then anyone can.
    You have successfully created a Google account for yourself, so you're already half way there.

    As busy as you are, if you can find the time to peruse my blog, long enough to feel justified to leave a comment saying that 'it needs updating, it's become stale' and then find the time to post 3 more comments on this blog over a period of 36 hours, then I'm sure you could find the time to look into creating a blog of your own. One where you would be your own moderator, which would enable you to express whatever you want, however you want.

    I don't believe anyone is busy 24/7.

    I'm glad you added ''within reason'' to your freedom of speech comment.

    ReplyDelete
  40. appreciate the reply, but l do detect a resentment there, maybe a slight condescending ,,thats not to say you are not entitled to your opinion, we all are,,but to me l dont see a level playing field,,if lm totally wrong then l apologise emphatically,

    ReplyDelete
  41. I didn't mean to be condescending, but I'm just a wee bit irritated by your attitude. You leave a comment, basically saying that this site doesn't come up to your high expectations, ''needs updating, getting stale'' (your words). I have tried to explain the situation, then you start harping on about freedom of speech and Lord knows what else. Now you're saying you don't see a level playing field? I'm not even sure what that means or implies.

    As I see it, there is a level playing field, as I suggested in my second reply to you. If this blog about old Blackburn isn't what you would like it to be, if it's not updated often enough to your liking or has become too stale for you, then find yourself one that fulfils your expectations or as I suggested earlier, go and create one of your own. The playing field can't be more level than that.

    If you would like to leave comments about any of the images on this site, then please feel free to. If you would like to ask any questions about any of the images, then as stated in my blurb in the right hand column, I will try my best to answer those questions.

    Go to the top of the page and read the 'About Me' section and you will see why I created this blog. It was to share a few images of my hometown with anyone who might be interested enough to take a look, or indeed comment, nothing more.

    If that isn't enough for you, then sorry, as I said earlier, it is what it is.

    I haven't the time to keep replying to your criticisms, I have tried to explain why the site can't be updated as often as you would like, tried to explain why it has become stale, so as far as I'm concerned, this conversation ends here.

    ReplyDelete
  42. that reply is just fine with me,l often play devils advocat which often works the oracle, apologise if the phrasing was a touch insulting, on the whole l think you do a very good job with the sight, absolutely nothing personal,,,l dont even know you from santa claus, so l dont have an agenda,,cheers now,,

    ReplyDelete
  43. that reply is just fine with me,l often play devils advocat which often works the oracle, apologise if the phrasing was a touch insulting, on the whole l think you do a very good job with the sight, absolutely nothing personal,,,l dont even know you from santa claus, so l dont have an agenda,,cheers now,,

    ReplyDelete
  44. Hi BBlad, great site, I have just found you, and loved the walk down memory lane. As a descendant of Charnley's picture houses, I was thrilled to see the Victoria up there. Once again thank you

    ReplyDelete
  45. Hi Ms C, Thank you for the kind comment and I'm glad you found this post of interest.

    It's thanks to Cottontown / Frederick Lloyd Jones for his photo and to John Eddleston for his really.

    They were the only two photos I could find of The Victoria. If yourself or any family members have any more, or cinema posters I could scan, I will be happy to add them.

    Cheers

    Colin

    ReplyDelete
  46. WHAT AN ABSOLUTELY FASCINATING HOUR I HAVE JUST SPENT. A TRULY ENJOYABLE TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE. LANCASTER HAS BEEN MY HOME FOR THE LAST 32 YEARS, BUT BORN A BLACKBURNER MY HEART IS STILL THERE AND I VISIT OFTEN. THE CINEMA THREAD IS AMAZING. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

    ELSIE

    ReplyDelete
  47. HELLO COLIN

    I'VE JUST BEEN LOOKING AT THE CINEMAS AGAIN. I REMEMBER THE EMPIRE AT EWOOD VERY WELL, AS WE LIVED IN MILL HILL FOR MANY YEARS. CAN YOU STILL BUY THE GLASS PAPERWEIGHT THAT YOU HAVE PICTURED.

    THANK YOU, ELSIE

    ReplyDelete
  48. Hi Elsie

    I picked the paper weight up at a car-boot fair, quite a few years ago. To be honest, I haven't a clue if they would still be available. I'm not even sure if I still have mine. I took the photo a few years ago and sent it to the Red Brick Theatre Co for their archives when they were asking for bits and bobs from people, for a centenary thing they were putting together.

    Have a look on their website (Red Brick Theatre), they may have some info on there.

    Regards

    Colin

    ReplyDelete
  49. Hi Elsie

    I dug out the paper weight. If you are unable to get hold of one from the Red Brick people, you can have this one (for free). If you want to send me a phone number or an e-mail address, we can sort it from there. Your number and/or e-mail wont be published anywhere. There will only be myself that sees them.

    Regards

    Colin

    ReplyDelete
  50. HELLO COLIN

    THE PAPERWEIGHT ARRIVED THIS MORNING, 30th. IT IS LOVELY. SO WELL PACKED TOO. THANK YOU VERY MUCH. I WILL TREASURE IT.

    ELSIE

    ReplyDelete
  51. Wow Elsie, that was quick. I only posted it Wednesday afternoon. Thanks for letting me know and I'm glad you like it.

    Regards

    Colin

    ReplyDelete
  52. only just found your site & just wanted to say thanks

    ReplyDelete
  53. Cheers Vinnie. I appreciate that. I don't update it as often as I should do, but hoping to get a bit more done on here in the next month or so.

    Regards

    Colin

    ReplyDelete
  54. Well done Blackburnlad. Memories have certainly been stirred this evening. Although I now live in the South East, being 64, I remember most of the above having spent almost all of my life in the Blackburn area. My first 'date' with my first girlfriend was at the Locarno hoping not to bump into any of my teachers from St Peters down the road!
    Please more photos of Blackburn as it was when it was GREAT!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi

      Thanks for your positive comment, it is appreciated. I'm glad you've enjoyed looking through some of the posts.

      If you haven't done so already, have a look on the Facebook group (same name, Blackburn Past), as there's many old photos on there, that are not on this site / blog.

      Kind regards.

      Colin

      Delete
  55. Wow, looking through this site was a trip back in time for me, at least part way, into my childhood. I grew up in Blackburn but my family emigrated to Canada in 1968.

    I appreciate the work you have done to compile all these photographs and information. I get back to England every once in a while but in the meantime, I'll revisit this site.

    Thanks.

    Clive Barratt
    Chilliwack, B.C, Canada

    ReplyDelete
  56. Good to know you enjoyed looking through the images Clive.

    I have a Facebook group with the same name (Blackburn Past), so if you're a Facebook user, be sure to join or at least have a look (it's an open group), as there's plenty of photos on there that are not on here.

    Kind regards.

    Colin

    ReplyDelete
  57. I have an old wardrobe and on the bottom it reads: Jas Sharples & Sons,Home Furnishers, 21 Ainsworth St. Blackburn. "Cash if you have it. Credit if you need it." Anyone have any information on a furniture store in that area and what time period. Trying to date my furniture!

    Kind Regards,
    Peggy

    ReplyDelete
  58. Hello,

    I have an old wardrobe that I am trying to date. On the bottom there is a stamp that reads. Jas Sharples & Sons, Home Furnishers, 21 Ainsworth St. Blackburn, "cash if you have it and credit if you need it" Does anyone have any info on a furniture store on time period? Any info would be appreciated!

    Kind Regards,
    Peggy
    Chino Hill, California

    ReplyDelete
  59. I'm just logging off for the evening Peggy.

    I'll try and see if I can find out something tomorrow (Friday) or at the weekend.

    Regards.

    Colin

    ReplyDelete
  60. Hi again Peggy

    In my 1894 directory, James Sharples is at 21 Ainsworth St (as you mention above) and he is down as a Cabinet Maker.

    In my 1925 directory, there's a James Sharples & Sons - Furniture Dealers and they're address is 59 Penny St. I think it pretty safe to assume they're the same company / business. Not sure how well you know Blackburn, if at all, but Ainsworth St and Penny St are both in the town centre and pretty close to each other.

    With having just the two directories from that period, it's difficult to pinpoint when they moved premises, from Ainsworth St to Penny St. Also they could have been in business on Ainsworth St prior to 1894 (that just happens to be the earliest directory I have).

    But I think you can be pretty confident in saying that it is pre 1925.

    I hope that helps.

    Regards

    Colin

    ReplyDelete
  61. Hi again Peggy

    In my 1894 directory, James Sharples is at 21 Ainsworth St (as you mention above) and he is down as a Cabinet Maker.

    In my 1925 directory, there's a James Sharples & Sons - Furniture Dealers and they're address is 59 Penny St. I think it pretty safe to assume they're the same company / business. Not sure how well you know Blackburn, if at all, but Ainsworth St and Penny St are both in the town centre and pretty close to each other.

    With having just the two directories from that period, it's difficult to pinpoint when they moved premises, from Ainsworth St to Penny St. Also they could have been in business on Ainsworth St prior to 1894 (that just happens to be the earliest directory I have).

    But I think you can be pretty confident in saying that it is pre 1925.

    I hope that helps.

    Regards

    Colin

    ReplyDelete
  62. Hope this information on the town's cinemas in 1947 will be of interest to someone:

    http://archive.org/stream/kinematographyea1947kine#page/250/mode/2up

    Regards,
    John

    ReplyDelete
  63. Thanks John

    The links don't always appear on here as they should, but for anyone interested, if copy & paste John's link into a search on your computer, it should take you there.

    I'll try and crop the image John and upload the relevant column on the post.

    Kind regards.

    Colin

    ReplyDelete
  64. I've now added the list, right at the bottom of the post.

    Cheers

    Colin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Colin.

      Charlie Chaplin didn't get a single laugh when he performed at the Palace in 1908:

      http://archive.org/stream/picturegoer34odha#page/n127/mode/2up

      Best,
      John

      Delete
  65. Hi John,

    Here's a reminder of a more innocent age:

    http://lantern.mediahist.org/catalog/moviemakers06amat_0649

    It's highly unlikely that any copies of these films survived, but you never know ...

    All the best,
    John

    ReplyDelete
  66. Thanks for the link John.

    Best regards

    Colin

    ReplyDelete
  67. I Have not lived in Lancashire now for 45 years and it is very interesting reading about all the places that one had forgotten.
    I remember going to the cafe over the Royal Cinema with my son who was a baby then where my mother was the cashier that was in 1960.

    ReplyDelete
  68. Thanks for your comment. I'm glad you found the posts interesting.

    Best regards.

    Colin

    ReplyDelete
  69. Hi Colin, I am a student from the University of Sheffield. My teammates and I would like to use one of the images in this page for a group project study on Blackburn History. Here is my e-mail address, jtan8@sheffield.ac.uk.

    We hope to hear from you.

    ReplyDelete
  70. Hi

    No offence meant, but I get loads of spam messages via this blog and they always have a link or e-mail address that they want me to click on. Being the suspicious type, I never do. I just delete them.

    If yours is a genuine request and I suspect it is because of the ac.uk, then please, by all means let me know which image you want to use.

    In fact, as long as you credit the source (which is below each image), I can't see there being any problem image.

    Best regards.

    Colin

    ReplyDelete
  71. * Any problem with using any of the images *

    that should have read

    ReplyDelete
  72. Hi Colin,

    Will do and thank you very much.

    I am Jing, a Master of Architecture student from the University of Sheffield. My team and I are part of a Live Project Group from the university that were invited to think of creative ways of making Blackburn Town Centre a vibrant place for the locals.

    My team and I will be in Blackburn this Friday and Saturday (18-19 Oct). We will be setting up a small event to invite locals to remember their memories of Blackburn past and contribute ideas to pave a path for its future. We would like to hear your opinion as it matters a lot for this community project.

    Seeing that you and your friends are very enthusiastic about your local culture and history, I would like to extend a warm invitation to you all to attend this event.

    We will be based in the small shop opposite the Town Hall, next to the Cotton Exchange building at King William Street.

    Do drop by and have a look if you are free, help spread the word.

    Cheers

    Jing

    Live Project Blog: http://www.ssoa.group.shef.ac.uk

    ReplyDelete
  73. Hi Jing

    Good luck with your event. I have copied & pasted your message to the BP Facebook group page as well, so hopefully it might inspire a few to pop in, if they're in town on Friday or Saturday.

    Best regards.

    Colin

    ReplyDelete
  74. Hi Colin,

    Several of Mitchell and Kenyon's Blackburn films can be viewed for free on the BFI's new player (you don't have to register):

    http://player.bfi.org.uk/

    Regards,
    John

    ReplyDelete
  75. Thanks for the link John. I'll have a look sometime. My computer has been misbehaving lately, especially on video clips (problems with my Flash Player or something).

    Best regards.

    Colin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it will be well worth the effort Colin. The BFI have put all 28 hours (!) of Mitchell and Kenyon's films online. This 12-minute video shows Princess Louise's visit to Blackburn in 1905. Now I know why all those old buildings got so dirty -- the pollution from the smoking chimneys is just unbelievable:

      http://player.bfi.org.uk/player/1wMzJ2ZjoTg5vmTDQk3uzbnSoEeajBpU/default/search

      Regards,
      John

      Delete
  76. Thanks John,

    I'll make the effort. It's just finding the time and as mentioned above, my dodgy computer :-)

    I've watched the short clips on Youtube from time to time and I did watch the TV series when it was first aired.

    Are you aware that Peter Worden has just died recently. Peter, along with Robin Whalley was instrumental in the rescue of the Mitchell & Kenyon reels. I'm sure you will know that, but others looking in, might not be.

    RIP Peter and 'thank you'

    Best regards.

    Colin

    ReplyDelete
  77. I put the link onto the BP Facebook page John, where it has had some favourable comments. I said I would pass on their thanks to you for sending the link.

    I watched it myself too, but with my PC playing up, it kept freezing, but I enjoyed what I saw of it.

    Best regards.

    Colin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for helping to spread the word.

      And a big thank you to the late Peter Warden for saving these films:

      http://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/news-bfi/features/peter-worden-1938-2013

      I like this one:

      http://player.bfi.org.uk/player/ZkcjRlZTrlGbNtRLnZRoM2ZsnOzxM-9N

      Best regards,

      John

      Delete
  78. Great site, glad I have found it. I am trying to find out if Elsie Prince performed in Blackburn in the late 1920's 1930's. In her day she was a famous lead in Pantos and Musicals on the London stage and abroad. I can't see her name on any of the programmes but I wondered if anyone knows of her.
    Would appreciate any comment. Exiled in Somerset

    ReplyDelete
  79. Great read! Appreciate the time and effort put into gathering the info, especially about the cinemas. I was the Manager of Apollo Cinema when we closed the doors in late 2005 (building was sold to Hurstwood Group). Worked there for 10 years and have some lovely memories. Little did I know it would still stand derelict 8 years later. Such a shame to see a grand building rotting away.

    ReplyDelete
  80. Thanks Naz and glad you enjoyed it. You very nearly didn't get a chance to. My domain registration (the www. bit) ran out on the 14th Nov and I had been struggling for 3 weeks prior to that to renew it, due to Google's ridiculously complicated renewal process. I very nearly threw in the towel. 4 years work nearly went down the pan :-)

    Yeah it is a shame about the old exchange building.

    Regards.

    Colin

    ReplyDelete
  81. I was the first person to work at the Palladium when it switched to a co-op in 1963 as a 16yr old shop lad I was tasked with filling the shelves ready for the Grand Opening (on my own at first but later joined by a gang of others) three co-ops in the area were shut down to accommodate the new store New Wellington St Mill Hill St and Kings Rd the first manager was Ted Hibbins and his assistant was Bill Clegg who incidentally also our union shop steward so if you had a problem with Messers Hibbins or Clegg you took your complaint to Mr Clegg not much point was there ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No it doesn't sound like there was much point complaining :-)

      Regards.

      Colin

      Delete
  82. Really appreciate your efforts in preserving these memories of Blackburn.
    Reading through the comments - I hope you rise above the negative and accept my thanks and congratulations on a wonderful site, along with the many other positive messages from nostalgic Old Blacburnians.

    Thank You!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your comment. I appreciate it.

      Regards.

      Colin

      Delete
  83. Hi, I'm loving going through this site... such a fascinating insight to Blackburn's history. I was a student here back in the 80's and I now own a design studio here together with my husband. There have been many, many changes over the years and some not for the better. With Blackburn is Open & Wayne Hemingway we are looking to make changes in small and big ways for the town.

    I was invited to recently take some photographs in the old Apollo cinema. If you fancy having a look at some of the photos as it stands now please check out my blog thetripletriangle.

    You can use this link.

    http://thetripletriangle.co.uk/hidden-blackburn-cinema/

    I think it's fantastic to have this site here for prosperity whether you update it regularly or not.

    Catherine

    ReplyDelete
  84. Thanks for the link Catherine and for the kind comments.

    I've had a quick look at your photos, it looks to be in a sorry state.

    I'll have another look at your blog when I've more time.

    Cheers.

    Colin

    ReplyDelete
  85. Great site mate. Well done !!

    ReplyDelete
  86. Thank you. Apologies for the delayed reply, I was ill over Christmas.

    regards

    Colin

    ReplyDelete
  87. A greatest of memories. My mother and a couple of uncles were shareholders, one of them manager for several years. As a student for a time, I was able to watch new pictures in Manchester prior to them being released. I also helped with Saturday night shows - but probably because I had a crush on one of the girl as ushers.

    ReplyDelete