We have a collection of old cinema programmes from Bradford, Leeds and elsewhere, offering a treasure trove of nostalgia that takes us all the way back to the 1930s.
Cottage Road Cinema
Originally named Headingley Picture House, the Cottage Road Cinema is over 110 years old. After opening as a garage in 1905, the building was converted into a cinema, which opened its doors all the way back in 1912.
Saved from closure in 2005 by a last-minute bid, the cinema has managed to retain its old-time charm today and still shows classic films.
The programme on show here is from 1951, and a closer look shows the upcoming films included Father of the Bride and the iconic All About Eve starring Bette Davis.
Casting an eye over the local adverts may stir up memories for local businesses on Hyde Park Corner and Otley Road, and a look at the cost of a visit reminds us of how times have changed, as a cinema ticket was priced at 1/9 for the circle and 1/3 for the stalls.
Hyde Park Picture House
One of the oldest cinemas in the UK, the Hyde Park Picture House on Brudenell Road in Leeds is a Grade II listed building, famous for being the only remaining gas-lit cinema in the world.
After first opening in 1914, the Picture House has undergone some redevelopment in recent years, adding a second screen. The commitment to embracing the cinema’s unique history has seen it go from strength to strength and is often the place to go for Leeds International Film Festival screenings.
The artwork for Hyde Park’s programme takes us back to July 1950, the year of Powell & Pressburger’s Gone to Earth and Jules Dassin’s Night and the City. Even from the image on the cover, it’s clear that Hyde Park has retained its historic charm, as the iconic staircase looks hardly any different today.
We now turn attention to some cinemas that sadly aren’t around anymore. Here we have the artwork for a 1952 programme for the Lyric Cinema. Located on Tong Road in Armley, heading towards Leeds city centre. The cinema had a striking art deco style (in keeping with a lot of buildings of its time) and housed just under a thousand seats.
It had a strong run from its opening in December 1922, and after changing ownership in the 1970s, it finally closed in 1988.
At home with the rest of our 50s programmes, cinema was having a golden age in the post-war era, and Lyric cinemagoers may well have settled in for screenings of 1952 releases such as Singin’ In The Rain and John Huston’s Moulin Rogue.
Rounding off our selection of Leeds programmes is the old Rex Cinema, located on Dewsbury Road, Leeds. The cinema could seat over 1,000 people, and after opening in May 1939 ran for 38 years, closing in May 1976 to make way for a housing estate.
As an interesting aside to these programmes, it is worth highlighting Woodhouse and Sons (Advertising) Ltd, an advertising firm based in Leeds.
They designed and produced promotional materials for several local cinemas including the Lyric, Kingsway, Hyde Park Picture House and Rex featured here, but also other Northern venues like the Continental Palace’s in Huddersfield and Hull. By noting all these local connections, we can appreciate the strong community links that were prevalent at the time.
Odeon Theatre, Harrogate
Our final pair of programmes take us all the way back to the 1930s, with two Odeon cinemas in Harrogate and Bradford.
The Harrogate Odeon is another art stylish deco cinema, it opened 1936 and is still standing today. The featured programme here is from September 1936, the year of Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes and many other British classics.
Built as a competitor to the Odeon next to Alhambra theatre on Godwin Street, the Manchester Road Odeon in Bradford had an art deco style and spectacular exterior lights.
The programme in our archives is from its opening night in 1938 and offers a fascinating look at the programming of the era. Opening with the national anthem, the night featured the Mickey Mouse cartoon Mickey’s Trailer and concluded with the world premiere of the film The Ware Case, directed by Robert Stevenson (of Mary Poppins fame).
Unfortunately, this venue had a reasonably short lifespan. It was bombed by the Luftwaffe in 1940 and closed in 1969 to make way for roadworks.
On the other hand, the other Bradford Odeon on Godwin Street has had its own storied history and, after much redevelopment, is set to reopen this year as the music venue Bradford Live.
By looking at these programmes we have a chance to revisit moments in history and see how entertainment venues from decades ago used to run. We discover the local connections that established these venues as part of a wider community, while the fact that some of these venues are still open today points to the resilient nature of the cinema business and gives us all hope for the future.
We would now love to hear about your memories from Yorkshire cinemas of years gone by, whether it’s a venue featured in this blog, or somewhere else close to your heart. From first dates to your earliest cinema experiences, let us know in the comments about your most treasured cinema moments.
Images copyright © The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London.