Odeon Halifax

Broad Street,
Halifax, HX1 1YA

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   Boltmaker                          John from Keighley
Boltmaker John from Keighley on February 22, 2016 at 8:49 am

The projectors when I started were BTH Supa’s. To me the bees knees but after about two years were changed to Kalee 21 s. The parkeet floor of the projection room was so highly polished like a mirror. Last year I revisited the now bingo club and the manager kindly showed me around the many changes that have taken place over 50 years. The old projection suite now looking very rejected and unloved and the highly polished floor WELL! Nice to revisit but also upsetting too. But old memories will prevail.

   Boltmaker                          John from Keighley
Boltmaker John from Keighley on February 22, 2016 at 8:34 am

This is the cinema where my cinema career really started as an apprentice projectionist in August 1960. I really loved my time here under Chief Jimmy Thompson and 2nd Tommy Allen who became my adopted father.Loved every minute of it. George Shepheard was the Manager who persuaded me to go into cinema management and I was sent to the Odeon Merrion centre for training.

   Boltmaker                          John from Keighley
Boltmaker John from Keighley on October 13, 2015 at 8:07 am

The career story of Tony Cutts can be found on the following site. bradfordodeonrescuegroup.co.uk

FanaticalAboutOdeon
FanaticalAboutOdeon on October 12, 2015 at 4:41 pm

Everything comes together – Tony must have been the one and the same and presumably his mother remarried at some point and thus changed her name. On reflection, when Lily introduced me to Tony at Odeon York, I think he’d probably just called in to see her rather than actually being based there. Knowing the three of us were all very interested in the cinemas themselves led to Tony inviting me to the Majestic and this was during 1966 which all makes sense. I know Mr Close loved his Odeon M.C. and I’m assuming he would have “opened” the new Bradford twin Odeons. I “helped out” with the charity premiere of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” when Odeon M.C. was one of several key Rank theatres which shared the event with Odeon, Leicester Square. There was C.C.T.V. footage on the screen of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh meeting the special guests at the West End Premiere and our guests were local dignitaries. Mr Close had a large photograph of his Odeon’s auditorium, as it looked originally before the “Cinerama” changes, on his desk and he proudly showed it to me saying “This is the best little cinema in the country”. Donald Denham was a strange guy, uncooperative and awkward (guess he didn’t care for youngsters who would become senior to him in rank). I had known and loved Odeon, York since being taken there as a child and in a rare conversation with Mr Denham, I happened to describe in minute detail the original screen tabs which were removed in ‘53 when the CinemaScope screen frame was installed. He appeared incredulous that an 18 year old could remember them let alone describe them and his eyes filled with tears as he told me the contractors putting in the new screen frame had put the magnificent curtains in a skip in the car park as they would have fouled the deeper frame. After that, he was like my best friend and would bring in old photo’s for me to see and ask me to pop into the box if there was anything interesting or unusual to see. He would, I think, have retired just a few years after I transferred to Odeon, Harrogate in '67.

   Boltmaker                          John from Keighley
Boltmaker John from Keighley on October 12, 2015 at 2:23 pm

I believe John Ramsden followed Donald Denham as Chief at Odeon York, on promotion from 2nd at Odeon Merrion Centre. Tony Cutts after the Odeon M/C opened became Chief at the Majestic during its epic run with The Sound of Music. He lived at that time in Holmwood Bradford and travelled daily to Leeds. He also had the most comprehensive collection of LP’s a real collector. Later and towards the end of his life he was the Chief at the Picture House in Bradford which is attached to the Museum of film and television and the Imax cinema in Bradford.

   Boltmaker                          John from Keighley
Boltmaker John from Keighley on October 12, 2015 at 2:15 pm

If my memory serves me right, the assistant manageress at Odeon Merrion Centre was Margaret Smith and her daughter Carol was the secretary, that was in 1964 the year of it’s opening. Cyril Charles Close was later moved to the Odeon (ex Gaumont ) Bradford where I am told he sadly died.

FanaticalAboutOdeon
FanaticalAboutOdeon on October 11, 2015 at 1:53 pm

Chief Projectionist at York for many years was Donald Denham, one of life’s more difficult “characters”. He had been an apprentice when the Odeon opened and retired some time after 1966. We had an usherette, Lily Snowden, formerly Chief at the long-closed Regent in Acomb (a York suburb)and her son, Tony, was a projectionist at York before transferring to Leeds Majestic where he showed me around the ‘box and explained how they turned the sound up a couple of notches as the cathedral organ appeared in the long-running “The Sound of Music”! I’m wondering if Tony would have had a different name to his Mum in which case the timing would make Tony Cutt the one and the same guy. Yes, a reunion of us “survivors” would indeed be great. If you are ever within striking distance of York, you’d be most welcome at my home cinema – it is, officially, an Odeon – the only one in York – and has all the trappings of a traditional one as well as digital projection including 3D. I think there would be much to talk about and perhaps the chance to think about organising a reunion. My email address is: .uk James

terry
terry on October 11, 2015 at 1:43 pm

The Manager to follow Geoffrey May would be Peter Talbot who was my opposite number in Newcastle. Relations between Rank and ABC in that city were, I am pleased to say, as cordial as was the case in Halifax. I originally met Peter at Odeon Halifax when, in his capacity as a former Manager and (at that time)Operations Manager, based at Odeon Headrow Leeds, he attended the farewell party at the Odeon upon its closure in 1975.

FanaticalAboutOdeon
FanaticalAboutOdeon on October 11, 2015 at 1:39 pm

George lived to be in his mid nineties and Beryl her late eighties. George’s arrival at York was fortuitous, 1964 saw Rank spend £20,000 on modernising and refurbishing the Odeon and he soon became one of the best known characters in the City. His welcoming personality and skill in coordinating publicity campaigns meant the already very successful cinema went from strength to strength and his Profit Plan almost always had a healthy figure on the bottom line! A late colleague and great friend of mine, Steve Gaunt, trained at Merrion Centre with Charles Close and a very friendly secretary/local assistant manageress – the name May rings a bell. I was part of the same “intake” as Steve in early 1966, but at York, of course, and the two of us liked nothing better than to spend our nights off watching 70mm. films at M. Centre and the Majestic and, very occasionally, the opposition in Vicar Lane! A very happy period on the eve of sub-divisions when “our” cinemas were still very impressive.

   Boltmaker                          John from Keighley
Boltmaker John from Keighley on October 11, 2015 at 1:32 pm

George’s Chief Projectionist at York was John Ramsden ex Merrion Centre. John, Tony Cutts (Majestic Leeds ) and myself were really good mates in the 60’s. (John was my best man)Sadly we lost touch as the years went by and we all moan the passing of Tony (Mr. Cinema ) Cutts. Would be nice to meet up with colleages from that era before its too late.

   Boltmaker                          John from Keighley
Boltmaker John from Keighley on October 11, 2015 at 1:04 pm

Very sad to read that both Beryl and George Shepheard have passed away, but glad to see their son Tim is still going strong. When I worked for George at Halifax, Tim was a very young schoolboy. In 1964 ( I think ) George moved to York Odeon, being replaced at Halifax by Geoffrey May from Rochdale. I moved to the Odeon Merrion Centre Leeds as a trainee manager then to Odeon Bradford as A/M under Jack Fenner then onto Gaumont Sheffield as House Manager under Harry Murray that was 1966 I think.

terry
terry on October 10, 2015 at 9:45 am

Quite a number of my comments here were in response to questions and/or observations made by former Chief, Danny Wilkinson. I have just noticed that he has removed most of the comments and therefore many of my own will leave readers bewildered, to say the least, as they appear out of context.

Perhaps you will manifest yourself again in another 40 years time, Danny……..

FanaticalAboutOdeon
FanaticalAboutOdeon on October 9, 2015 at 4:41 pm

I was recently contacted by Tim Shepheard, George’s son, who was at school when I was at the York Odeon. Tim had spotted a reference to his father I’d made on Flickr and it was good to catch up a bit on George’s family life and retirement as well as learning about Tim’s own family.

FanaticalAboutOdeon
FanaticalAboutOdeon on October 9, 2015 at 4:36 pm

Very nice to read. I was one of George Shepheard’s trainees at York a couple of years after he arrived in the City. He loved York and its Odeon and vowed never to leave – “…even if they offer me Leicester Square”! I reminded him that the Odeon, Leicester Square still had its original, five manual Compton organ and he replied that that wouldn’t be an easy decision but York was for him! He was a brilliant cinema organist prior to moving over to cinema management.

George only died a few years ago – about a month after losing his lovely wife, Beryl. He was true to his vow and never left the City he and Beryl loved so much.

   Boltmaker                          John from Keighley
Boltmaker John from Keighley on October 9, 2015 at 3:12 pm

Some very interesting comments about the Odeon Halifax. In the early 1960’s I was a young projectionist at the Odeon Halifax under the management of the lovely George Shepheard and his secretary Diana Majdalany. Harry Shatwell was the assistant manager. Those were the days for a teenager with several ‘live’ concerts of all the pop artists of the time. I loved every minute of it all. After a few years George Shepheard talked me into going into theatre management and I moved on to Odeon Merrion Centre Leeds under Cyril Charles Close for training. After several months George Shepheard had moved to Odeon York where I did relief work for him on a few occasions before being moved to the Gaumont Sheffield as House Manager.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on May 25, 2015 at 9:54 am

The Cinema Theatre Association (CTA) visited the Mecca Bingo Club (former Odeon Halifax) a couple of years ago. I don’t think we were allowed access into the former projection box. I certainly didn’t get in there to take photos. Maybe former projectionist have photographs of the projection box, or another source is possibly the CTA archive (although photos of projection boxes back in the day are quite rare).

terry
terry on May 25, 2015 at 9:47 am

Hi Danny

Mecca are one of the few remaining arms of the Leisure Division of the mighty Rank Organisation who, upon acquiring Mecca Bingo, dropped ‘Top Rank’ in favour of ‘Mecca’ ; a very odd decision in my opinion but the powers that be considered the ‘Mecca’ brand to be more readily identifiable with the ‘Nation’s Pastime’ (not one of mine, I hasten to add).

I am sure that if the box is still accessible and safe to enter that they would allow someone to take photos although Ken Roe will be in a better position to say for certain.

The same goes for you in the health, happiness and wisdom departments!

terry
terry on May 24, 2015 at 7:29 pm

It was ‘Confessions Of A Pop Performer’ as I was Relief Manager at the ABC Halifax that week and , mindful that it was the Odeon’s last ever programme, I recall typing it on ‘ABC Opposition Report Form No. 6 ’ (they were a bureaucratic lot). When I returned to base theatre, ABC Wigan, it was also playing there as, having no Odeon in the town, we played both releases.

The ‘Confessions’ films were ‘much of a muchness’, Danny, so it is not too surprising that you have mixed them up.The first one, ‘Window Cleaner’ I remember playing at ABC Wigan the previous year (the Court which played Rank releases having recently closed) and it was the only time I saw the 2280 seats all occupied!

‘Pop Performer’ did fairly well and the line that got the most sustained laughter, I recall, was Rita Webb asking Robin Askwith (referring to her daughter) if he had seen “her Fanny” and his reply about seeing ‘The Ghost Of Frankenstein’ being bad enough…………

When two further sequels appeared, namely ‘Driving Instructor’ and ‘Holiday Camp’ I was by then in locations where there was an Odeon but I think that the returns were only fair. However, being cheaply made, I am sure that the producers (and Columbia as distributor) made a decent net profit on the four ventures.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on May 22, 2015 at 5:49 am

danny18badel: Are you certain it was “Confessions of a Window Cleaner” as that was released in August 1974 and would have been an over one year ‘old’ film by the date of the Odeon closing? “Confessions of a Pop Performer” was released in July 1975.

Did Rank bring back ‘Window Cleaner’ or do we have the incorrect year of closing?

FanaticalAboutOdeon
FanaticalAboutOdeon on April 28, 2015 at 11:26 am

Hi Terry,

Yes – ear to the ground! It must be THE Ken I’ve not seen for 49 years!!

You will, I think, have heard that Everyman are attempting to get the funds together (and Landlords' permissions) to acquire Odeons Barnet, Esher, Gerrards Cross and the iconic original Muswell Hill cinema from Odeon Cinemas Ltd.

I will hope to come to you within the next couple of weeks – hospital appointments permitting.

Best regards,

James

terry
terry on April 28, 2015 at 10:25 am

Hi Danny

2 days in succession on here which may be regarded as sad by some…..

I shall give you my e-mail address as I do not imagine the readers on here will be interested in my personal life :–

I also have an A***book page(!):–

https://www.facebook.com/terry.charnock

I am registered on Twitter too but I have heard too many tales of people getting into trouble by expressing their views on there and, as I would most likely fall into that category, I avoid it. In actual fact the sole reason for my registering was to support a former projectionist of mine, Steven, who, funnily enough, trained at the original Odeon (Blacks Regal) Gateshead and he was with me at the super ABC Westgate Road Newcastle which you would have loved as it had everything including 70mm in BOTH auditoria. The main auditorium still retained the cine variety stage although, apart from occasional personal appearances etc, it was never used after twinning.

Butterflying back to Twitter, however, Steven was absolutely besotted by the film ‘Oliver’ and years ago he created a really extensive website for the film which he keeps adding to (no financial assistance from Columbia, by the way)and it requires such a great bandwidth that he ran out of hosts. Finally he had to resort to Twitter and he asked me and various others to subscribe just for the sake of his website.

Re Ken Close, the last time I saw him was decades ago at ABC Huddersfield when he came to see one of those disaster films that were all the rage back then. I have never seen him since.

When Odeon Halifax closed, the Manager of the Odeon in my home town of Bishop Auckland, a lovely chap by the name of Walter Aylen, happened to pass away; Ken had worked there with Walter at one time.

Life has to go on and all that, so I rang Ken, who had just received his redundancy notice, to tell him about Bishop Auckland and to get his application in if he wanted to stay with Rank. This he duly did and I think that he was in with a chance until it was announced that the Pavilion Newcastle was to be belatedly added to the massive closure list that included Halifax and thus the Manager of the Pavilion, Jim Stewart,was appointed at Bishop Auckland, unfortunately…….

Ironically, 7 years later, it was the Manager of Bishop Auckland Odeon, Doris Hart (she followed Jim in there when he went to Stockton), who rang me to tell me about the impending early retirement of Archie Heaton at ABC Darlington (she used to be A/M at the Odeon there) and for me to get MY application in as she knew I did not like being at Chester…..

James, if you happen to read the above, this answers your question re Ken Close and he was – hopefully still is – one and the same. I shall try to get down there again in the near future (Chester Le Street Station is literally yards from my house) and likewise you’ll have to visit here.

All the best for now to you both.

Terry

FanaticalAboutOdeon
FanaticalAboutOdeon on April 28, 2015 at 4:36 am

Danny, Would that be the Ken Close who was the management trainee before me at York Odeon in ‘66 with George (ex Halifax Odeon) Shepheard. We overlapped by only a couple of weeks but I can’t recall where he was posted as a fully-fledged assistant/relief manager prior to becoming a manager. Maybe there were just too many Kens and Jameses around!

terry
terry on April 27, 2015 at 10:08 am

Hi Danny

Just a ‘quick one’ for now (thinking back to Ann’s letter) as I am about to take the hound up to Waldridge Fell, one of our many local beauty spots, before the bright sunshine turns to snow……….

I wonder what happened to ‘The Dynamic Duo’, Ken and Ann the Management at the Odeon……they were rather different to dour old Jim Thompson at the ABC, weren’t they?

I expect to hear from one of my old mates, Frank Chambers, the last Manager of the ABC (he and his wife come to stay from time to time), who retired recently from the Grand Theatre Leeds. I shall ask him about Brian Whiteley who, I suspect, will now be in that ‘Art Deco Palace in the sky’. Certainly George Crosland is long departed along with all the rest of the ABC Huddersfield team. The last time I saw Brian was at ABC Darlington (now the Odeon – how things change!) when he and the District Engineer turned up to carry out an installation; he had a ‘cuppa’ in the office with the secretary and me and then went about his duties………

They were very happy days at Halifax, Danny and I often think back to them, not least because I was still young and good looking – at least according to Ann…………

FanaticalAboutOdeon
FanaticalAboutOdeon on April 27, 2015 at 4:21 am

Hi Danny – No worries! Hope to welcome the two of you one day to the smallest Odeon.

FanaticalAboutOdeon
FanaticalAboutOdeon on April 25, 2015 at 9:54 am

Hi Terry and Danny,

Just a thought. If the two of you would like to meet up for a real “catch-up” and some refreshment, you’d be most welcome at my little Odeon in York. I don’t know from where Danny would have to travel, but if York would make a meeting feasible or easier, please feel free to head here.
Just let me know what you both think.

Best wishes, James