‘URBAN explorers’ who entered a disused Burnley theatre have been criticised for putting their safety at risk.

Pictures have been posted online of the inside of the old Empire Theatre, in Cow Lane, on social media sites and shared on ‘urban explorer’ websites, which encourage people to explore abandoned buildings.

The colourful facades and ornate balconies shown in the photographs provide a glimpse into the Victorian building’s former heyday.

The theatre, which later became a bingo hall, is Grade Two listed, and has been included on the Theatres Trust’s ‘at risk’ register for six years.

The photographs show that the interior of the theatre is still intact, with colourful paintwork, rows of seats, and wide balconies, harking back to the theatre’s former glory days.

But the theatre is in need of urgent repair work, and poses a danger to anyone trespassing inside.

The owners of the old playhouse, the Lancashire Theatre Company, have failed to come forward, and as a result, Burnley Council has been forced to step in and carry out the remedial work needed to make the building safe.

A spokesman for Burnley Council said the building was dangerous. He said: “We do not own the building.

“We have a duty of public safety and we have carried out work to the exterior to make it safe to passers-by and taken reasonable steps to make it secure.

“We have made that building as safe as possible, but it is dangerous and people shouldn’t be going in there.”

Burnley historian Roger Frost also criticised the ‘urban explorers’. He said: “I know the condition that it’s in.

“It was in a desperate condition six or seven years ago when a survey was carried out, and it will be even worse now.

“We’ve got to condemn people who break into buildings that aren’t theirs, and they could do some damage.”

A police spokesman said no reports had been received of trespassers, and urged people to call them on 101 in such cases.