Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Disused Cinema Bradford

Built on the site of the old William Whittaker's brewery which had ceased brewing and malting in June 1928 and following the curve of Brewery Street. This stunning red brick theatre combined with cinema, ballroom, restaurant and tea room café. Costing a quarter of a million Pounds to build, its Moorish style Citadel frontage contrasted with the similarly domed Alhambra Theatre next door.

A proud boast at its opening was that most of the building materials and interior furnishings were provided by Bradford (and surrounding district) firms. Almost five hundred Bradford workmen had built the magnificent theatre in only six months and another four months for fitting out internally.

The New Victoria opened with a spectacular performance at 2-30pm on Monday 22nd September 1930 comprised by the Lord Mayor, Alderman Angus R. Rhodes in the company of other distinguished guests, civic officials and managers of other Bradford city centre cinemas.
In September 1950 it changed its name to Gaumont with its staff wearing the smart new uniforms of blue and gold livery. A refurbishment in early 1954 rejuvenated the interior beauty with decoration and the seemingly endless task of re-carpeting and the installation of a gigantic chandelier suspended from the centre of the massive dome. Many speculated how you would change the bulbs in such an enormous centre piece and at such a height. The answer was all too simple - the complete chandelier was lowered on chains from a winch in the roof down the stalls seats where it could be then be managed with relative ease.

After a period of audience decline, 1968 saw the closure of the Gaumont. Hurried recording sessions were set up to capture the sound of the Wurlitzer organ before it was stripped out. More details of this can be found on the New Victoria/Gaumont Wurlitzer Organ page together with organ history and specification.

The Gaumont closed its doors on 30th November 1968 - a sad end to an exciting era of entertainment in the city

The construction of twin cinemas under the new name of ODEON Film Centre - the old original Odeon Cinema in nearby Manchester Road having closed in March 1969 and the building subsequently demolished. The name Odeon was transferred to this former New Victoria/Gaumont building and has led to some confusion ever since particularly in people's reminiscences.

 The Top Rank Bingo below the cinemas in the former stalls area of the New Victoria/Gaumont had already ceased operation in the Summer of 1997 and bingo transferred to the Rank owned Mecca Bingo in Little Horton Lane. The closure of the Odeon triple cinemas in June 2000 was a sad day for many not least of which the staff who had done so much to keep it going in difficult times. As a cinema it has outgrown its usefulness as the younger audiences shifted to the popcorn and coke swilling multiplexes offering a greater choice of film titles. Perhaps the Odeon's final performance should have been another 'Black Tie' - the funeral tie - event where we could properly mourn the passing of Bradford's most important piece of cinema heritage.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

St George's Hall, Bradford

St George's Concert Hall is a grade II listed Victorian building located in the centre of Bradford, West Yorkshire, England. Originally designed with a seating capacity of 3,500, the Hall seats 1500 people.

St George's Hall is the oldest Concert Hall still in use in the United Kingdom and the third oldest in the whole of Europe. German Jewish wool Merchants who had moved to Bradford because of it's textile industry financed the building of St George's Hall. Jacob Moser being instrumental in its construction.

The building's design, by Henry Francis Lockwood and William Mawson, was chosen from more than twenty-two designs submitted during an 1849 competition. Built of ashlar sandstone masonry in neoclassical style, the building was opened on 29 August 1853. The interior underwent extensive remodelling after World War II and again after fires in the 1980s.
The venue has hosted many of the worlds top performers over the years including Iron Maiden, Metallica, INXS, Duran Duran, Bon Jovi, Kiss amongst others, and for a time in the 1980s and early 1990s was a major venue for touring international bands before the development of the Sheffield Arena

Monday, 27 February 2012

Old Ship Inn Brighouse

The Old Ship Inn has a painted legend along the front, saying that the exterior timbers were salvaged from an old ship. Originally called The Prince of Wales, the building was rebuilt from timbers reclaimed from HMS Donegal in 1926.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Alhambra Theatre Bradford

Yesterday we went to the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford to see a show called Stomp. The show had  a lot of clapping, feet tapping and making music with everything from kitchen sinks to pans and paper. The show was excellent as was the theatre.

It was built in 1913 at a cost of £20,000 for theatre impresario Francis Laidler, and opened on Wednesday 18 March 1914. In 1964 Bradford City Council bought the Alhambra for £78,900. In 1974 it was designated a Grade II listed building. It was extensively refurbished in 1986. It seats 1456.
Today, the Alhambra is a major touring venue and hosts a wide range of stage shows from ballet and opera to variety and comedy, musicals, drama and, of course, the annual pantomime. Regular visits are made from prestigious companies such as Opera North, the Royal Shakespeare Company, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Northern Ballet Theatre and the Royal National Theatre to complement spectacular West End musicals such as Grease, Whistle Down the Wind and The Phantom of the Opera

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Victoria Hall Saltaire

It is very difficult to get a shot showing all of the Victoria Hall building. This shot is of the top right corner highlighting the structures on the roof.


Victoria Hall. The building was originally called the Saltaire Club but referred to as the "Mechanics' Institute" in The Building News (see "Statues, Memorials, &c."), and now it is known as Victoria Hall. Lockwood & Mawson. Opened 1871. Ashlar stone. Victoria Road, Saltaire, Yorkshire.

A two-storey building with a basement, the club has eleven bays and was built on a T-plan It was designed as a working men's institute with all sorts of educational and recreational facilities, from a lecture hall, reading room and library to billiards and bagatelle rooms . It had a gymnasium, drill room, other meeting rooms, and a kitchen as well. Prominently sited early on the main route down to the mill, it is set back off the road behind railings (the original railings are no longer there) and guarded by two grand, individualised lions on the corner piers. These represent War and Peace, and complement another pair in front of the building opposite, the former factory school.

The Victoria Hall itself has great presence, so much so that it looks much more like a town hall than an institute. Its central tower ends in a "steep truncated pyramidal roof" (Leach and Pevsner 682) which stands high above the roofs of nearby houses In the tympanum over the central portal is the Salt coat-of-arms, with carved figures of Art and Science on either side — like the lions and the bust of Salt in the United Reformed Church, these were the work of Yorkshire-born Thomas Milnes. Thus, while there was clearly "no shortage of amenities" in Salt's model town (Curl 168), there were also no shortage of distinguished architecture and inspiring public sculpture.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Bradford Beer Festival

I normally do my blog at home in the evening. This is is not possible tonight as I will be sampling a few beers at the Bradford Festival. It is taking place in the building above - Victotia Hall Saltaire - more about this building later
Time to go and down a few

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Huddersfield Lion

The Lion of St George's Square may never have taken a stroll but he still appears as a spectacular sight for those entering the town from the station. This crowning glory of Huddersfield's Lion Building, with its history of mixed fortunes, is a well loved local landmark and keeps a watchful eye over the town centre.
Immediately noticeable to those entering St Georges Square is a magnificent eleven foot long and eight foot high lion perched sixty feet above ground level atop the Lion Chambers building.

According to local legend, this well loved Huddersfield landmark will get down from his pedestal and take a walk around the square when the station clock strikes twelve. Both events are unlikely to happen as the station clock is not a striking one.

The Lion Arcade was the third building to be opened in the new part of the town around St Georges Square during the 1850s, following Huddersfield Railway Station and the George Hotel. This prime example of Victorian architecture was built for local textile manufacturer, Samuel Oldfield, of Oldfield, Allan & Company at Lockwood Mills, and designed by J. P.Pritchett who was also the architect for the station building.

Oldfield required a new warehouse and counting house for his company but he also planned for the building to be an elaborate affair filled with elegant features and high class shops.

The day of the opening in 1853 was treated as a gala like occasion and, as planned, the new Arcade had a graceful staircase, a fountain, promenade, conservatories and 6000 square foot of glass in the ceiling. However, within a year of the opening Oldfield had run into financial difficulties and the future of the Arcade was put in jeopardy.

Never living up to its early promise, in 1919 the building was bought by a group of local business people who planned to turn it into a cinema. This project never materialised and instead the interior of the building was converted into offices and shop fronts were added along John William Street.

The lion has continued to keep watch over the town centre but, having been constructed from compounded material and reinforced with steel and copper bars, by 1977 had been badly eroded by the effects of the weather and traffic pollution. For a short time the lion was removed but he was soon replaced by a fibre glass model of the original. This new lion now stands guard over St George's Square.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Shipley Glen Cable Tramway

Photograph shows the bottom station at the Shipley Glen Tramway and one of the three old advertising signs.

RMS Majestic was a White Star liner working on the North Atlantic run, originally launched in 1914 as the Hamburg America Line liner SS Bismarck. At 56,551gross tonnage, she was the largest ship in the world until completion of the SS Normandie in 1935.

The third and largest member of German HAPAG Line's trio of transatlantic liners, her completion was delayed by World War I. She never sailed under the German flag except on her sea trials in 1922. Following the war, she was finished by her German builders, handed over to the allies as war repatriations and became the White Star Line flagship Majestic.

She was the second White Star ship to bear the name, the first being SS Majestic (1890). She served successfully throughout the 1920's but the onset of the Great Depression made her increasingly unprofitable. She managed to struggle through the first half of the 1930's before being sold off for scrapping to Thomas Ward.

 She was taken possession of by the British Admiralty before demolition commenced after an agreement was reached with White Star and Thomas Ward. She served the Royal Navy as the training ship HMS Caledonia before catching fire in 1939 and sinking. She was subsequently raised and scrapped in 1943.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Shipley Glen Cable Tramway

I work as a volunteer on the Shipley Glen tramway which is currently open every Sunday from 12pm until 4.00pm ( see

Normally I work at the bottom station where there is a ticket office. Inside the office there is a wonderful collection of tins, containers and boxes from the throughout the 20th century. My photograph shows a few.

Saltaire United Reform Church

Saltaire's United Reformed Church caught in the early morning light. The container on the right is for the workers who are renovating the mausoleum.
The mausolem contains the bodies of Sir Titus Salt, his wife Caroline and their children - Fanny, Katherine, Mary, Titus jr, Whitlam, and daughter in law Jane (first wife of Edward) 

Monday, 20 February 2012

Saltaire Sunrise

6.45 am Sunday morning, not a cloud in the sky. Fingertips cold as I was changing camera settings. Took a few photographs just before sunrise with the Salt Mills building and chimney silhouetted

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Saltaire street signs

An attractive feature in Saltaire are the street signs. The standard black and white street signs found elswhere have been replaced by signs with white letters on a blue background. I believe the project was completed in 2010 and I think they add to the character of the village.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Salt Coat of Arms - Saltaire

The Salt Coat of Arms

The Salt family coat of arms consists of 2 stars above an upside down chevron. Below the chevron is an ostrich holding a horseshoe in its beak. Apparently the ostrich represents willing obedience and serenity and the horseshoe represents good luck and protection.

This is above the college building in Victoria Road. The building was originally the dining hall for the workers at Salts Mill. It was the first building to be built after the mill was completed.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Baildon Playground

Kids enjoying themselves, despite the cold weather, in the playground at Baildon on the banks of the River Aire. The wall painting is an impressive looking feature.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Roberts Park Saltaire

Roberts Park on a clear frosty morning. The circle in the frozen grass is where members of a keep fit club had been exercising earlier in the morning

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Saltaire Lions

Following yesterdays post here are the other three lions. I cant help thinking they would look better if they were cleaned up.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Saltaire Lions

A feature of  Saltaire'sVictoria Road are the four lions, sitting on plinths, Victoria Hall. Their names are Vigilence, Determination, Peace and War. They were designed by Yorkshire born Sculptor Thomas Milnes. The story goes that they were designed originally for Trafalgar Square, but were found to be unsuitable so Titus Salt bought them cheaply.

   This one, licking his paw, is called Peace

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Frozen Canal at Saltaire

This shot of the frozen canal at Saltaire shows gulls and a solitary pigeon struggling to gather the bread thrown to them by children on the towpath 

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Frozen Canal at Saltaire

Another cold morning, but at least we have escaped the worse of the snow. Took this photo of the Leeds Liverpool canal at Saltaire. as you can see the canal is frozen.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Theatre Royal, Newcastle

The Theatre Royal is a Grade I listed building situated on Grey Street in Newcastle upon Tyne. It was designed by local architects John and Benjamin Green as part of Richard Grainger's grand design for the centre of Newcastle, and was opened on 20 February 1837 with a performance of The Merchant of Venice.
Following a performance of William Shakespeare's play Macbeth, a huge fire destroyed the interior of the building in 1899. It had its interior redesigned by Frank Matcham and reopened on 31 December 1901. The theatre's restaurant is named after Matcham. Externally, the building is exactly as it was when it was first built.
It underwent a major refurbishment and restoration in the latter part of the 1980s, reopening on 11 January 1988 with a performance of A Man For All Seasons starring Charlton Heston.
The Theatre Royal went dark on 14th March 2011 due to a major restoration of the auditorium, box office, bars and restaurant. The restoration will restore the theatre to the original 1901 Frank Matcham Edwardian interior. The whole interior was stripped apart from the original plaster work which was carefully preserved but all the seats, carpets and technical equipment was removed. The 70’s foyer doors and kiosk was removed. The proscenium arch, tiers and boxes have all been gold leafed and the plaster work restored. On all levels the seats have been replaced with Edwardian style theatre seats in keeping with the restoration. The amphitheatre which was removed during previous renovations has been restored and offers more leg room and better views than the gallery. This takes the theatre to five distinct seating areas, the stalls, grand circle, upper circle, amphitheatre and gallery. Wheelchair spaces have been installed on levels which had previously been inaccessible. As well as the boxes near the stage, boxes at the rear of the grand and upper circles have also been restored taking the total number of boxes up to ten. The stage lift and orchestra pit have been replaced to offer better facilities for opera and musicals. A new ventilation system has been put in place to improve comfort levels in the theatre. New frescos for the lobby and upper circle were commissioned and put in place. This £4.75m project is also introducing the highest modern standards of comfort and improving energy and carbon efficiency. The Theatre Royal reopens on 12 September 2011 with the Alan Bennett’s epic period drama The Madness of George III. George III was in fact the monarch who gave the Theatre Royal its charter.
The theatre hosts a variety of shows, including ballet, contemporary dance, drama, musicals and opera. The Royal Shakespeare Company visits annually, and considers the Theatre Royal its northern base. The Christmas pantomime is also very popular.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Bank Buildings

Some of the finest city buildings were built as banks. A few are still banks but most have been converted into offices, wine bars, lesisure centres etc.
This photo shows Bradford Commercial Bank built in 1867 on the corner of Bank St and Hustlergate and it still operates as a bank   

Wednesday, 8 February 2012


Cycling is a popular pastime here in West Yorkshire. You cannot go anywhere on a weekend without coming across groups of cyclists.

This shot was taken in Bingley on a cold Sunday morning.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Little Germany - Bradford

This triangular building is an area of Bradford called "Little Germany"

The buildings within Little Germany date back to the 19th century. They are the legacy of Jewish merchants from mainland Europe who spent large sums of money constructing imposing warehouses for the storage and sale of their goods. A large proportion of the merchants came from Germany hence the name Little Germany.
Little Germany is still one of Bradford's busiest commercial areas, with over 110 businesses and organisations with 3000 workers. It attracts around 100,000 visitors each year

Monday, 6 February 2012

Triangular building - Leeds

There are several triangular buldings in and around the Leeds/Bradford area. This fine example can be found in Leeds at the junction of Dock Street and  Hunslet Road. The Tetley Brewery site is just to the left of the photograph.
The 19th century building is now used as offices

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Canal Reflections at Bingley

The cold still canal waters combined with the autumn/winter foliage make for great reflection photographs. Took this on the Leeds Liverpool Canal near Bingley in between the 3 Rise and 5 Rise Locks

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Saltaire Snow

2.45 pm today - view from our apartment window. The forecasted snow has arrived. It started at around 2pm but so far it is only light.
The view shows the magnficent United Reform Church in the background towering above the old office block and stables. The block has been converted into cottages.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Leeds Sculpture

This striking feature can be be found in the Nelson Mandela Gardens in Leeds. The gardens are a short distance from The Headrow. The gardens offer visitors an area of beauty and tranquility, in contrast to the hustle and bustle of Leeds city centre.

The sculpture is a 16ft high bronze by Leeds born sculptor Kenneth Armitage.


Thursday, 2 February 2012

Bingley- crowded towpath

This was the scene all weekend as people flocked to see the drained locks

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Bingley Five Rise Lock - final shot of drained lock

Took this shot as I was climbing up the scaffolding assembled in the bottom lock. The event was certainly a sucess, with the local press reporting figures of between 5,000 and 8,000 visitors.