Landmark Bradford Cinema due for demolition
Is that the fate of the New Victoria/Gaumont/Odeon?
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The 70mm Newsletter
|Written by: Colin Sutton, Bradford Cinemas Historian.||Date: 6 March 2005|
|For the past four years visitors to Bradford Film Festival have asked questions about the red brick and white faience twin-domed theatre/cinema building across the road from the NMPFT and which closed in 2000.|
Built in 1930 as the New Victoria Theatre/cinema with 3,318 seats, a huge stage and Wurlitzer organ. The building also housed separate ballroom, restaurant and a tea-room cafe. When built it was the third largest cinema in England with lavish stage spectaculars. By 1950 it was renamed Gaumont and continued both as cinema and theatre.
In 1969 it reopened as the Odeon 1 & 2 after twinning conversion and the creation of a large Bingo hall in the former stalls area. Odeon 1 was equipped with 70mm facilities opening with "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" in Super Panavision 70. It was the only 70mm facility in the city but removed soon afterwards due to the shortage of new films in that format. Nowadays NMPFT Pictureville is the only 70mm capable cinema in the area.
Since the closure of the New Victoria/Gaumont/Odeon building, the Council want to demolish it and make way for an "iconic building and sensory garden" which does not have much public support. Last autumn it was given an external clean-up of the facade and towers as complaints had been made about its shabby appearance. It now looks impressive again in the morning sun.
|Further in 70mm reading:|
The PPT Looking after cinemas heritage
|A group of enthusiasts are trying to save the building from demolition and encourage stripping out the conversion work and restoring to its former glory as a multi-purpose theatre/concert hall/conference centre with film projection facility.|
I have written a more detailed history with photographs of this unique landmark building.
If you have the time whilst visiting the WideScreen Weekend then why not take a walk around the exterior of this imposing building and see its enormous size for yourself - I'm sure you will be impressed.
|An image showing large outdoor widescreen TV promotion.|
The Bradford Odeon Rescue Group (BORG) is actively involved with trying to persuade the Bradford City Regeneration company to seriously consider restoring the building to its former glory. This has much support from thousands of local people.
BORG have mounted many publicity events including the use of a huge 22 feet widescreen TV display showing pictures of the building together with numerous radio and TV interviews and a petition of over 5,000 names.
The fight to save the building is a long and difficult one - so much so that BORG has taken the unusual step of publishing some of its non-stop work on the internet
Access to the building has been denied on Health & Safety grounds due to presence of asbestos and allegedly drug needles left by squatters although no evidence of this has yet been produced. Many incorrect or misleading rumours about the building are adding to the confusion.
In its Odeon 70mm heyday around 1969-1970 it was surprising to find so little promotion of 70mm; it was on the giant Readograph sign but omitted from most newspaper advertising with the result that Bradford people knew very little about its new quality presentation format.
At the Widescreen Festival 2006 there is to be a talk by Tony Cutts on his 50 years as a projectionist both at NMPFT/Pictureville and across the road at the New Victoria/Gaumont/Odeon building - a man of much experience and knowledge of two very special cinema buildings - not to be missed.
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