Blackburn Hall

16 Commercial Street,
Rothwell, LS26 0AW

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Additional Info

Functions: Community Arts Center

Previous Names: Empire Cinema

Nearby Theaters

The Empire / Blackburn Hall in Rothwell in October 2004

Located in Rothwell, West Yorkshire. The Empire Cinema opened on 8th May 1913. It was closed in April 1932. By October 1935 it had been converted into the Empire Ballroom and was given a new modern façade.

Blackburn Hall is now a community theatre and centre with a flat floored auditorium and new stage constructed behind the former screen proscenium.

Contributed by Ian Grundy

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on May 30, 2005 at 3:20 am

The only cinema in Rothwell listed in Kinematograph Yearbook’s through the 1930’s and 1940’s is the 900 seat, Picture Palace located on Ingram Parade and operated by Rothwell Public Service Ltd. No mention of an ‘Empire’ during these years and by the mid 1960’s there is no listing at all for a cinema in Rothwell.

Analyse on August 13, 2015 at 9:17 am

As part of my Family History research, my Grandmother confirmed to me many times that the Blackburn Hall was formerly the ‘Rothwell Empire’; it opened as the Empire in 1913. Each ‘show’ consisted of silent films accompanied by a pianist, together with a ‘turn’ (live act). My Great Grandfather, George Henry Parker became commissionaire at the Empire after ill health forced him to leave colliery work; he was there for many years, and my Grandmother and her sisters as young girls used to help him earn a little family extra money by running a concession stand in the foyer selling sweets in ‘twists’ of paper. Rumour has it that when Queen Victoria visited Rothwell, she was filmed passing the Empire in her carriage and my grandfather could be seen outside the Empire in his full uniform as she passed.

DavidSimpson on May 24, 2016 at 9:32 am

When I visited in May 2016 I was unable to gain entry, but through the front doors I could see a commemorative plaque in the foyer. It was not easy to read, but from what I could make out it said that the building had been acquired by Rothwell Urban District Council in (I believe, though this date was unfortunately indistinct) March 1959 – when, following alterations and extensions, it was re-named and re-opened as the Blackburn Hall. I could just see into the auditorium, which has a flat floor and stage. The date of March 1959 does tie in with the information in the comments above.

HJHill on April 30, 2022 at 3:52 am

The Empire opened on 8 May 1913 and was still presenting live acts and films in 1929. It looks to have closed in April 1932, which was recorded as the reason why the manager committed suicide by gassing on 3 May in his office. It probably become the Empire Ballroom Rothwell. The earliest mention (so far found) is 30 October 1935 in the Yorkshire Post: notice of a General Election meeting to be held there. From 21 October 1936 the Yorkshire Evening Post carried advertisements for the Empire Ballroom in Rothwell. Annoyingly, the street address was not given; but it does seem a coincidence. It’s interesting to see that, on the web, someone commends the ‘fabulous’ dance floor at Blackburn Hall. (Apropos an earlier contribution: Queen Victoria had been dead for 12 years when the Empire opened.)

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