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Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society
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Mar 2024
Estelle Bryers – Entertainment in Chorley.
Tue 12th Mar 2024
Chorley, like many towns in the north of England, had entertainment provided for the people in the wake of the Industrial Revolution. Early theatres were built before the cinema was widespread. Chorley Theatre first opened on 3rd September 1910 as the Empire Electric Picture Palace, making it one of the oldest still-operating purpose-built cinemas. Other theatres in the town also began to show films and even the Town Hall was used. Until the 1930s Chorley had 2 Town Halls. The first was built in 1802 but the new Town Hall opened in Aug 1879 and was used for many events such as travelling theatre groups, political meetings, musical concerts, First World War recruiting drives, women’s suffrage and even a rally by Sir Oswald Moseley’s Fascist Blackshirts in 1935.
Estelle Bryers.

Sante's Theatre before the 1914 fire.

Chorley's old Town Hall built 1802.

Sante's Theatre burnt down in 1914.

Where the Royal Theatre
stood on Market St.

Chorley Empire.

Sante programme June 1903.

Entertainment in Chorley.
It is hard to imagine that just outside the current Booths shop on the Flat-iron stood Sante's Grand Theatre. George Testo Sante was a US-born circus strongman who toured the UK with his variety play “The Showman.” In 1894 he bought a wooden theatre and invested in creating “a people's palace of dreams” and claims to have entertained 150,000 people in 1899. Sadly it was destroyed by fire in 1914 after a performance of the pantomime “Jack Horner ''. Sante sold his stakes in other venues before dying penniless in 1916.
Chorley Little Theatre is also the home of CADOS and Chorley Amateur Dramatic & Operatic Society (CADOS) was founded at a meeting in Shepherd's Hall on 2nd March 1933.
A huge thanks to Estelle for a fascinating tour of entertainment in Chorley.
Wed 13 Mar 2024
Stuart Whalley (July 1933 - Mar 2024)
It is with regret that we report the death of Stuart Whalley at the age of 90, one of our longest serving members. In 1973 he and his friend Richard Forkasiewicz found the Tockholes hoard of silver pennies that now reside in Blackburn Museum.

Stuart Whalley.

Stuart Whalley & Richard Forkasiewicz with the Tockholes Hoard in Blackburn Museum.

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