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The streetview is looking at the site of a ‘Hall’ marked on an 1890 street map of Colne. On that map there is an area of open land between the lower side of the hall and West Street further down. The terrace gable end is there on the 1890 map.
The streetview shows the exact position of the ‘Free Trade Hall’ as shown on a street map of Colne dated 1890.
Lancashire County Records have documents indicating that the building was originally intended as as a warehouse and workshop, but amendments were submitted on 19 April 1905 to amend use to that of picture theatre by incorporating an orchestra pit and a projection room.
The interior fibrous plasterwork was by W H Horn Ltd of Idle, Bradford (Idle has a famous working men’s club).
Sound debuted on 20 April 1931 (a month ahead of the Savoy) with a Western Electric system. Oddly, this is not listed in Kinematograph Year Book 1931, whereas the Savoy’s is.
Up to KYB 1936 the proprietors were ‘Varieties (Colne) Ltd’ who also ran the King’s Theatre on Ivegate in the town. In KYB 1937 ownership changed to ‘Victoria Picturedrome (Colne) Ltd’, who also owned the Savoy. That lasted to KYB 1949; Star Cinemas are listed owners of both in KYB 1950 and after.
The capacity is complicated. It was 980 in KYB 1935 to KYB 1938; 860 in KYB 1940 to KYB 1944; 700 in KYB 1945; 847 in KYB 1947 to 1949; 775 in KYB 1950; and 726 in KYB 1954 and KYB 1957.
KYB 1940 and KYB 1942 list the proscenium as 30ft wide. KYB 1957 lists ‘CinemaScope’,
On Wednesday & Thursday, 14 & 15 August 1963, bingo was introduced for two nights each week. After 10 June 1964 it was full-time bingo, with Saturday children’s matinees. It reverted to full-time films on 1 November 1964 with ‘Hard Day’s Night’; they ended on 8 April 1965 with ‘30 Years of Fun’ (a compilation of archive film footage from silent and early talkies eras).
The heating system was overhauled and bingo became the sole business until closure in May 1978.
The Victoria Assembly Rooms in Market Street were designed and and owned by a Councillor Holgate. There was a large, ballroom-sized, upper room, the ‘Victoria Hall’, beneath which was the ‘Lesser Victoria Hall’.
In 1909 and 1912, Andrews travelling pictures had sessions at the upper hall. In January 1914 it was advertising as the ‘Picture House, Victoria Hall’. It is listed in the Kinematograph Year Book 1914 as the ‘Victoria Hall’; with no other information.
On 29 May 1922 it closed for extensive alterations; and reopened on 18 September 1922 as the Savoy Cinema. The two halls had been amalgamated as one, giving an auditorium with a balcony.
According to ‘Chronicles of Pendle Picture Palaces’ (by Peter Sagar for the Mercia Cinema Society) talkies debuted on 25 May 1931 with ‘General Electric British Talking Pictures’ and a ‘Westone Rubber Sound Screen’. However, KYB 1931 gives the sound system as ‘Edibell’. KYB 1935 to KYB 1949 has ‘BTP’. In KYB 1950 this changed to Western Electric, which looks to coincide with the ownership passing from ‘Victoria Picturedrome (Colne) Ltd’ to Star Cinemas.
From KYB 1935 to KYB 1949 the capacity is 900. It is 806 in KYB 1950; 807 KYB 1954 and 1957 (the later indicates ‘CinemaScope’).
The last film was Ted Ray in ‘Please Tun Over’ on Saturday 10 June 1960.
The building was demolished in April 2015. A student accommodation building will be on the site.
There is a research article here:
Closure was 3 December 1960.
Talkies came on Monday 18 November 1929 (The Perfect Alibi). One source says it was a German, Klangfilm, system. Kinematograph Year Book 1931 gives Western Electric.
Cinemascope debuted in March 1955 with ‘The Egyptian’.
Someone needs a lesson in the use of the apostrophe!!!
It is the right photo. The view is Bury New Road on the south side of Sedgley Park, looking north. On the cinema site, the land dropped away from the road. I knew it only as a closed building. Patrons, walking in from the pavement, must have entered the building at the level of the lounges in the balcony void; and must have descended stairs to enter the stalls (yet the stalls side exits would have been at ground level). The auditorium is well back from the road, on the right of the photograph. The present (2015) Lidl supermarket site has been partially excavated; with its car park below the level of the road in the vicinity of the former cinema.
Now there’s a lost skill/art/craft – the local poster/sign-writing for out-of-town cinemas which, presumably, couldn’t afford to use the distributors' publicity posters.
The Kinematograph Year Book for 1914 has the name as “Scala Electric Palace” and the address as Cooper St (later Copson St) which ran down the side of the building. The operators were Scala Electric Palace (Withington) Ltd and the capacity was given as 500.
Those were the days when shops would hang covers at their windows on hot, sunny days. The retail unit on the right sold sweets and tobacco. There wasn’t a sweets/tobacco kiosk in the cinema; though there were the usual interval sales of ice-cream etc from trays worn stoically by usherettes. In the 1950s the shop seemed as dated as the cinema had become. On the left of the building there wasn’t a matching shop. Inside, that area was men and women’s toilets for the rear seats; and stairs up to the projection room.
The entrance doors were set back in the central opening. Pantograph-style metal gates were drawn across when the cinema was not open.
The Savoy is not listed in Kinematograph Year Book 1914. Under Cleckheaton there are just two entries: the Picture Palace around the corner in Albion Street; and the Temperance Hall a few hundred yards away. ‘West Yorkshire Cinemas & Theatres’ by Peter Tuffrey gives 1923 as the opening year.
Until Star acquired it, ownership was with Goodalls Pictures Ltd (later Goodalls Pictures (1931) Ltd) who gave the business address as Albion Street and the same phone number as the Picture Palace. Seating was initially given as 1200; but listings in the Star days gave 1214.
Also in ‘West Yorkshire Cinemas & Theatres’ by Peter Tuffrey there is a photo taken (probably) in the mid 1920s of the Picture Palace in Albion Street. To the right of the Palace there is a tall, narrow, new building with a Tudor-bethan finish to the upper façade. It has three double-door entrances above which is ‘Savoy’; but there is no display matter whatsoever, just tasteful shrubs by the doors. However, another photo shows the principal entrance to the Savoy was on Bradford Road. Were the rooms on the upper two floors in Albion Street, perhaps, the offices of Goodalls Pictures?
The original sound system was BTH (British Thompson Houston). Some time around 1941 this was replaced with WE (Western Electric).
Up to, and including, KYB 1950 the listing for the Savoy had “café attached”. Was that above the entrance/exit doors in Albion Street?
In ‘West Yorkshire Cinemas & Theatres’ by Peter Tuffrey there is a photo taken many years after the above (probably mid 1920s) of exactly the same stretch of Albion Street. The timbered(?) building to the right has been replaced with a tall, narrow, new building with a Tudor-bethan finish to the upper façade. It has three double-door entrances above which is ‘Savoy’; but there is no display matter whatsoever, just tasteful shrubs by the doors. However, another photo shows the principal entrance to the Savoy was on Bradford Road.
From its opening to being acquired by the Star circuit (around 1953) the ownership was with Goodalls Pictures Ltd then Goodalls Pictures (1931) Ltd. Star shortened the name to Palace.
AWH sound was a British system named after Arthur William Harris (slogan ‘Always Worth Hearing’). Around 1947 it was replaced with an RCA system.
Kinematograph Year Book 1935 to 1954 gave the capacity as 800; this fell to 697 in KYB 1957, presumably because of the CinemaScope installation. KYB always lagged changes.
In the Kinematograph Year Book 1914 the owners are exotically titled the “Franco-British Animated Picture Co”.
Given that it closed in 1932, it managed to be listed in KYB 1935, 1940 and 1945 (but not after that) and as having 1550 seats and Western Electric sound!
The closing film, A Honeymoon Adventure, was made by Associated Talking Picture and released in September 1931. The SPH’s top-of-the-range Western Electric sound installation could hardly have had time to pay for itself by closure in August 1932; probably two years at the most. G J Mellor in ‘The Cinemas of Bradford’ has “Spotlamps and stage fittings transferred to the Glenroyal”. Perhaps that went for the WE equipment too. The SPH closed on Wednesday 31 August; the Glenroyal opened on Monday 5 September.
The original projection room was at the rear of the stalls.
In the quad arrangement, the two ‘studios’ immediately in front of the projection suite were each served by two mirrors giving a downward-then-forward firing ‘periscope’ arrangement. The pair beyond them were served by an upward-then-forward firing ‘periscope’ which took the beams above the ceilings of the nearer pair and through glazed openings into the distant pair. As ever, with such mirror arrangements: the light scatter ruined the image contrast; the imperfect geometry alignment of mirrors distorted the images; and the focus was poor and got worse over time as contaminating films of dust and grease were deposited on the mirrors. The screens were solid surfaces with the sounds coming from loudspeaker boxes (of no great quality): one screwed on the wall below each screen. The access corridors were not particularly wide and were rather claustrophobic.
The original licence was granted on 17 November 1909. The applicants were Burnley United Temperance Society (also known as the Burnley Blue Ribbon Union) who described the building as being on part of the site of the former foundry of Messrs Butterworth and Dickinson. It was constructed to the designs of architects Messrs G and S Keighley of Nicholas Street and included a fire-proof “cinematograph chamber . . cut-off from the hall itself” which contained “two cinematographs, electric motors, switches, telephones, etc”. Building commenced in June and completed in November.
The gallery was described as running along three sides of the hall, with the “cinematograph chamber” at the rear of the central portion.
It is clear the Temperance Society intended it to be a picture theatre; and they requested permission in the licence for matinees on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
What most people know about the film Samson & Delilah is Groucho Marx’s comment about Victor Mature’s muscular development.
After the premiere, the director Cecil B. DeMille asked Groucho what he thought of the film. Groucho replied, “Well, there’s just one problem, C.B. No picture can hold my interest where the leading man’s tits are bigger than the leading lady’s.”
DeMille was not amused, but Victor Mature apparently was.
This does not show the Leeds Road frontage as built.
A newspaper report on the up-coming re-opening said that the Palace was back in the ownership of Harry Buxton. He gave the newspaper a statement from a resort in the South of France where he was convalescing from an illness. Buxton’s General Manager was a Geoffrey B Henshaw who was 6ft 5in tall, according to the article!
As the screen was the last item to be put in place, it was claimed that technical work would be going on in the Palace on Christmas Day.
I’m wondering if the cheap seats for viewing a reversed picture anecdote in “Life In Victorian Preston” by D.J. Hindle is an erroneous report of the use of rear projection.
A February 1921 magistrates' survey of Burnley cinemas mentions no seats behind the screen. “This building has a ground flood (sic), with a gallery on one side, and is principally a wooden structure, having been formerly a skating rink and converted into a cinema hall in 1912. There are four exits. Seating accommodation is 1,350 ground floor, 150 gallery, total 1,500.”
They go on to comment about the use of rear projection and the consequent lack of projection beam light to lift the darkness in the hall. “This being so, the other ordinary light in use during an exhibition should be carefully attended to, so that the building is sufficiently light to be able to see what is taking place in all parts to which the public are admitted. Attention is particularly called to this point.”
Other recommendations were to install front seats with backs and to re-arrange them so that the rows were not less than 2ft 2inch apart.
A February 1921 magistrates' survey of Burnley cinemas described the Andrews in the Church Institute as: ground floor 843; balcony 108; gallery 140 (total 1091). “It is understood that this hall at times gets very hot during a performance, which is probably owing to the fan not always being used. This should be attended to regularly.”
At the time of the photo, the Empire was still a live theatre. Films came on 19 May 1930.
The Victoria was a live theatre to the end. It was a 2,000 seater and was demolished in 1955. Woolworth’s in the building to the left of it in the photo extended their old building, with architectural sensitivity, and opened it in November 1958.
During WW2 the Victoria was the (evacuated) base for the Old Vic and Sadlers Wells companies from London, from which they toured. Burnley even hosted Lawrence Olivier and Vivienne Leigh for a while.