THE CURTAIN may have come down on professional theatre in Burnley with the closure of the 'Vic' in 1955, but plays continued to be staged in the town here - in the little Phoenix theatre over the New Market Hotel in Market Street.

The tiny auditorium was taken over in 1929 by the town's amateur dramatics Garrick Club whose productions there always played to members-only full houses.

The theatre began life at the start of the century as an old-time music-hall and its boards were trodden by such stars of the day as Little Tich, Dan Leno and George Formby, Senior.

Later, it was home to boxing tournaments for several years and afterwards, until it was restored by the Garrick's enthusiasts, it was a warehouse for fish.

The Phoenix closed in 1961 with the New Market Hotel being one of the many buildings disappearing in Burnley's central redevelopment.

The Phoenix is part of a proud theatre history for Burnley, which also includes the 'Vic' which was the first purpose-built theatre of quality in Burnley, and had the theatrical name of the Victoria Assembly Rooms and Opera House when it was built on the site of Tunstill’s mill in 1886.

The venue attracted top-class performers and every year there was a traditional pantomime.