Comments from HJHill

Showing 1 - 25 of 187 comments

HJHill commented about Victoria Cinema on Nov 25, 2015 at 3:16 pm

The ‘Overview’ text has got the sequencing of the names wrong. I do not have a complete set of Kinematograph Year Books, but those I have give the following:

KYB 1914 – Victoria Assembly Rooms.

KYB 1927, 29, 31, 38 and 40 – Charnley’s Pictures.

KYB 1942, 44, 47, 54, and 57 – Victoria Cinema.

For the latter two names, the address is Victoria Hall, Eanam Bridge.

As shown in the fire brigade ladder photo, the cinema was labelled ‘Victoria’ when subsidence forced its closure and demolition.

HJHill commented about Astor Cinema on Nov 16, 2015 at 1:20 pm

The following text is from a ‘RootsWeb’ page and was by “Linda Hindley” whose parents acquired the building for its return to roller-skating in the 1950s. She credits a Bolton Evening News article for some of the facts.

“The Olympia roller skating rink was erected on the site in 1909 and opened on Saturday Sept 25 of that year. The admission charge was 6d and hire of skates a further 6d and there were 3 sessions daily. The Olympia only lasted 3 years and closed on 27 May 1912.

Later that year, it opened as a picture house with the same name and had the largest seating capacity of any picture house in Bolton. On Sept 15 1929 it became the Regal and reopened as a ‘talkie’ cinema. From Sept 1929 until Sept 1952 the Regal led a relatively untroubled life except for hooliganism which resulted in destruction of many seats.

In (1952) the Progressive Publicity Co Ltd, a Manchester firm, took over the lease and Reginald Liversedge, the well known organist was appointed manager. On November 24 the cinema once again changed its name, this time to the Astor and the first film was ‘Le Ronde’. The major decline in the Bolton cinemas began in the mid 50s. Between 1955 and the end of 1959 eight closed, the first being the Astor. The building then was converted back to roller skating by my parents and was opened by footballer Nat Lofthouse on November 9th 1955."

HJHill commented about Savoy Cinema on Oct 27, 2015 at 3:47 pm

The Victoria Assembly Rooms in Market Street were designed 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, creating 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 Turn Over’ on Saturday 10 June 1960.

HJHill commented about Plaza Cinema on Oct 10, 2015 at 4:27 am

The horizontal line on the wall at the top of the windows is where the roof of the lean-to (the gents) was continued to create a covered space. The windows had shutters on the outside and curtains on the inside. Beneath each window there is an air brick: as kids we’d put our ears to them and listen to the films!

To the right, a ramp leads down and passes under the rear of the small stage. The front exits at either side of the proscenium led to this passage way. There were metal gates at the pavement; and metal railings at the left.

HJHill commented about Coliseum Cinema on Oct 10, 2015 at 4:03 am


The Coliseum was next to the Elite on Toller Lane, with Fairbank Road separating them. The irregular-shaped site is now derelict (2015) but the aerial view still shows the layout of the Coliseum garage and filling station which occupied the site. As a youngster in Bradford in the 1950s, it always fascinated me that Star had adjacent cinemas. When in my early 20s, I used the filling station!

And, being an old curmudgeon: I know Cinema Treasures is an American website; but could we use UK English/spelling, e.g. theatre and centre, please?

HJHill commented about Alhambra Picture Theatre on Oct 7, 2015 at 6:35 am

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.

HJHill commented about King's Theatre on Oct 7, 2015 at 5:47 am

The streetview shows the exact position of the ‘Free Trade Hall’ as shown on a street map of Colne dated 1890.

HJHill commented about Central Cinema on Oct 7, 2015 at 5:41 am

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.

HJHill commented about Pendle Hippodrome Theatre on Oct 7, 2015 at 4:02 am

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.

HJHill commented about Pentridge Cinema on Sep 25, 2015 at 10:49 am

The building was demolished in April 2015. A student accommodation building will be on the site.

HJHill commented about Palace Cinema on Jul 21, 2015 at 3:18 am

There is a research article here:

Closure was 3 December 1960.

HJHill commented about Tower Cinema on Jun 29, 2015 at 4:15 am

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’.

HJHill commented about Victoria Theatre on Jun 29, 2015 at 4:10 am

Someone needs a lesson in the use of the apostrophe!!!

HJHill commented about Odeon Prestwich on Jun 29, 2015 at 1:59 am

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.

HJHill commented about Cine City on Jun 27, 2015 at 1:51 pm

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.

HJHill commented about Cine City on Jun 27, 2015 at 1:45 pm

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.

HJHill commented about Grange Picture House on Jun 21, 2015 at 8:01 am

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.

HJHill commented about Savoy Picture House on Mar 10, 2015 at 2:17 pm

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?

HJHill commented about Palace Cinema on Mar 10, 2015 at 1:55 pm

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.

HJHill commented about Palace Cinema on Mar 10, 2015 at 1:32 pm

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.

HJHill commented about Shipley Picture House on Mar 5, 2015 at 3:48 pm

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.

HJHill commented about Shipley Flicks on Mar 3, 2015 at 3:17 pm

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.

HJHill commented about Temperance Hall on Feb 2, 2015 at 3:06 pm

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.

HJHill commented about Empress Cinema on Jan 26, 2015 at 2:39 pm

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.

HJHill commented about Palace Cinema on Jan 25, 2015 at 6:57 am

This does not show the Leeds Road frontage as built.