Doorsan Ltd distribute timber doors throughout the UK via our website www.uniquedoors.co.uk. Our family business, started in 1999, has a showroom and head office in Bradford, West Yorkshire. The family have strong links with the city going back many generations; consequently, we take an avid interest in what is happening in the City of Bradford.
Recently there has been a lot of discussion about building projects (or the lack of) in the city of Bradford. The media have homed in on what is called the ‘Big Hole’ in the Centre, which is awaiting a final decision by Westfield regarding a new shopping complex. In addition, there is controversy surrounding the former 1930’s Art Deco Odeon cinema, which has been empty since the 1990’s. Recent news releases have stated that the cinema appears to be saved from demolition after many years of campaigning, however, nothing concrete (to excuse the pun) is decided.
I have a keen interest in architecture and since the 1960’s many beautiful building have been demolished in the city, which has been a concern to me and many other Bradford citizens. I look forward to the revival of the Odeon as a grand edifice along with the Alhambra Theatre at its side.
The Odeon Cinema was originally called the New Victoria Theatre, and building works started in 1928 on the site of William Whittaker’s former brewery. The building was commissioned by Provincial Cinematograph Theatres and designed by local architect William Illingworth FRIBA who created a building slightly different to the clean-cut lines of the Art Deco buildings of the time. The style had an Italian Renaissance and Spanish influence with additional Moorish domes in keeping with the Alhambra Theatre across the road. Boasting 3,500 seats, a ballroom, restaurant and afternoon tea café this building was a true asset to the community.
Here is one of my family anecdotes. My mother went to watch a film at the original Odeon Cinema in Manchester Road on Saturday, 31st August 1940. Late that evening Hitler's Luftwaffe bombed Bradford destroying many buildings including badly damaging the Odeon. My grand parents awaited news, but unknown to them, my mother, who was a keen dancer, had changed her plans to dancing at the New Victoria Ballroom instead. Dancing was in progress when the first bombs dropped and a thump was felt, the band momentarily stopped playing, then continued for the 'jitter-bugging' dancers while the raid was in progress. This was a very fortunate decision for my mum and all our family.
In September 1950 the name of the theatre was changed to the Gaumont with emphasis on film with a refurbishment in 1954 to rejuvenate the beautiful interior.
The Beatles played at the Gaumont on Saturday 2nd February 1963; they were a 'bottom of the bill' support act to 16-year old Helen Shapiro. The original Odeon Cinema closed in March 1969 and subsequently demolished. The name Odeon was transferred to this former New Victoria/Gaumont building. This renaming has led to some confusion since, particularly in people's reminiscences. Regardless of any future name the building is given I hope, as do many Bradford citizens, that this local icon is given the refurbishment it deserves and becomes a useful commodity to the area again.