Unit Four Cinemas

223 Gannow Lane,
Burnley, BB12 6HY

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Unit Four Cinemas, Ward Cinema Circuit

Previous Names: Coliseum Cinema, Empire Cabaret Club, Aaben Cinema

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Unit Four Cinemas

The 850 seat Coliseum Cinema in the Rosegrove area of Burnley, Lancashire was situated where Rosegrove Lane curved into Gannow Lane. Its address was given as 223 Gannow Lane and, according to the local newspaper, it was adjacent to a tram terminus. The site is now (2015) a car park at and land between Barnes hardware and a short terrace of old houses.

The Coliseum Cinema opened on Monday 12th January 1920 with “Beyond the Pale” and Constance Talmadge in “Studio Girl”. The architect was William Heap, who was responsible for many cinemas in Burnley, and was particularly prolific around 1920. The Coliseum Cinema seated 850 in stalls and circle levels. Kinematograph Year book for 1927 gave the owners as the Coliseum Company Limited.

The last film programme in December 1930 was a silent film and talkies came early in January 1931 with an RCA sound system that received favourable reports in the local paper a few weeks later.

New Empire (Burnley) Ltd., based at the Empire Cinema on St James’ Street acquired the Coliseum Cinema around 1935, but KYB 1936 reports Leonard Wainwright as the proprietor. This changed to Harold Ward of 6 Brown Street Manchester in KYB 1937.

The sound system changed from RCA, in KYB 1949, to British Thomson Houston(BTH) in KYB 1950. Ownership changed to Coliseum Cinema (Rosegrove) Ltd. in KYB 1954, but the address was sill Brown Street in Manchester, which was the head office of the H. Ward Cinema Circuit. By KYB 1957, CinemaScope had arrived on a screen measuring 22 feet by 13 feet.

The Coliseum Cinema closed around 1959 and was converted into the Empire Cabaret Club, and it attracted many famous stars, and soon to be star onto its stage. Sometime in the 1960’s it was taken over by Brian Tattersall and converted into a 3-screen cinema, with seating for 118, 118 and 67. It re-opened as the Aaben Cinema. In the late-1970’s it was re-named Unit Four Cinemas, as Brian Tattersall cinemas were given this name, even though this Burnley cinema only had three screens. A licenced bar was added for the convenience of its patrons.

A bingo licence was applied for in 1983, but was refused. The Unit Four Cinemas closed in the mid-1980’s. It became a fashion factory, which was later closed and the building was demolished in the Summer of 1993.

Contributed by H J Hill, Ken Roe
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