CAMPAIGNERS are putting the finishing touches to the 125th anniversary celebrations for an East Lancashire theatre.

And trustees of the Burnley Empire (BETT) have paid tribute to one of the driving forces behind the launch of the Cow Lane venue in 1894.

Anticipation had risen to a fever pitch ahead of the grand unveiling of the Edwardian theatre, designed by Bertie Crewe.

Recounting a report from the time, a BETT spokesman said: "The opening night was a full house filled with continuous roars of laughter and applause as the audience were amused throughout the evenings entertainment

"It was said that that day was a 'notable one, mostly because it marked a new epoch in the musical annals of the town, which has long felt the want of a place of amusement of this description'

"It was a gentleman called Mr W. C. Horner who fought for the build of the Burnley Empire.

"He claimed that the people of the town deserved a variety of entertainment that didn't already perform in Burnley and to make good of the Cow Lane site, where an old mill once stood."

According to a report from entertainment bible The Stage that week, the artists engaged on the opening night were Miss Jenny Valmore, J. C. Rich, Graceful Gertrella, Barcello and Millay, Miss Nellie Lovell, the Sisters Paris, Catawhela, Frank Coyne, and O'Conner and Brady.'

An evening of 'music, magic and mirth', from the days of the music hall, with variety entertainers who have impressed audiences from the Glastonbury Festival to the Magic Castle in Hollywood, has been drawn up.

The anniversary event, which also includes a three-course dinner, is taking place at the 1882 Lounge at Burnley FC's Turf Moor ground, with all funds raised being donated to the trust.