PLANS to transform one of Blackburn’s most iconic buildings from a derelict shell into a cinema, bar, coffee shop and theatre space have gone on display for the first time.

The former Apollo cinema, a grade II-listed building constructed in 1863, was also once the town’s Cotton Exchange.


The King William Street building is set for a £5million revamp into a centre for arts, culture and business by charity Re:Source Blackburn.

Yesterday dozens of visitors were invited inside to view architects plans, contribute their own ideas and take a look round the interior and massive auditorium.

Among the plans are a big screen with a multi-functional stage inside the building, which is built in the high Gothic Victorian style.

A coffee shop and restaurant would overlook the auditorium. The purchase of the building was made largely thanks to a £500,000 donation by John and Rosemary Lancaster of The Lancaster Foundation, the group behind the transformation and restoration of the old cinema in Clitheroe into The Grand Theatre.

Alastair Murdoch, chair of trustees of Re:Source and a Shadsworth GP, said: “It’s fantastic to see so many people from so many different backgrounds and age groups here today.

“Many remember the building as a cinema and I’ve heard some wonderful recollections of how the building was.

“Even in its current state the building is beautiful and awe inspiring and we hope when finished it will raise aspirations in the town.

“We are at the end of our first phase now and have a business plan which will be put forward to funding groups like the Arts Council and the lottery.”

Among those visiting and looking around the building yesterday was Val Lavell, 69 from Revidge.

She said: “I remember this building from when I was a five-year-old coming here for the Saturday matinee of Disney films like Snow White.

“It will be great to see it restored and used again.”