When Burnley was the UK’s cultural capital | Letter

In the 1940s, the Old Vic and Sadler’s Wells ballet and opera companies took refuge in the north, writes Austen Lynch

Amid the drama surrounding English National Opera’s mooted move to Manchester (We’re not all heathens in Manchester, Andy Burnham tells ENO, 23 November), it is perhaps appropriate to remind all concerned that such a relocation is not without precedent.

For two years in the 1940s, the Old Vic and Sadler’s Wells ballet and opera companies (later to become ENO) relocated from a Blitz-torn London to take refuge in Burnley’s Victoria theatre.

From their northern redoubt, they organised four tours at a time – two drama, one opera and one ballet, performing to enthusiastic audiences across the north-west.
Austen Lynch
Garstang, Lancashire

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