A FRESH grant has been awarded to enable supporters of a historic former East Lancashire theatre to plot a course for its possible rescue.

The £10,000, handed over by the Theatres Trust, can be used by Burnley Empire Theatre Trust (BETT) officials to commission survey works and expert construction and design advice for the Cow Lane venue.

Six old theatres were selected by the trust as part of a £90,000 funding round, with Morecambe's Winter Gardens also among the beneficiaries.

A BETT spokesman said: "This is fantastic news for the Burnley Empire and will no doubt help to achieve further vital progress.

"Thanks to this grant awarded by Theatres Trust, we can now commission further professional expertise and carry out necessary survey work needed."

Gary Kemp, musician, actor and Theatres Trust trustee, said "We know how difficult it can be for theatres to raise funding for the early stage concept and viability works and for organisational support.

"These first stages of a project provide the vital foundations for both project and organisation, and we hope that with this support, these theatres will be able to make real progress."

Earlier this year it was announced that the National Lottery Heritage Fund had handed over £44,000, for similar aims.

Blackburn design guru Wayne Hemingway also pledged his backing for restoration efforts at the grade II listed building late last year.

The 124-year-old landmark still has examples of the plasterwork installed by famed theatre designer Bertie Crewe.

Used latterly as a bingo hall, after being a cinema for a time, the Empire has been vacant since 1995 and has had a place on the theatre at-risk register from 2006 onwards.

The Duchy of Lancaster handed over the theatre to BETT for a nominal £1 sum in 2015

Other theatres which have received financial aid include the Salford Victoria, Peterborough New Theatre, Spilsby Theatre in Lincolnshire and the Swindon Mechanics' Institute.