Baildon Picture House

Baildon Picture House
Northgate, Baildon.

Baildon Picture House
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Early Plans
Plans for a picture house at Baildon were first drawn up early in 1914 by Bradford architects Kirby and Botterall for the newly formed Baildon Picture House & Cafe Co Ltd with a Mr Haggas as company secretary. The ambitious scheme was to include a single deck cinema hall 45 feet wide and 90 feet long with a "semi-circular" (ie. arched) roof. It was proposed to seat approx. 600 people together with a large café to accommodate 250. Two self contained shop units were to be built either side of the cinema entrance in Northgate.

It was quite some time before building work commenced in late 1916 probably due to the war, shortage of labour and getting the plans passed by the Baildon Urban District Council.


The New Building
The brick built and purpose-designed building of the Baildon Picture House was prominently sited in Northgate, the main street leading to the moors, and almost opposite the Malt Shovel public house, a landmark hostelry which still exists today.

Despite the effects of the First World War (1914-1918) the picture house was built with an imposing two storey frontage in red brick with faience style white tile decoration and having a splendid central oriel style half hexagon bay window at first floor level suspended from the face of the building and supported on a substantial white corbel. A wrought iron and glass canopy was mounted above the front entrance. Its cosy auditorium with 550 seats had a proscenium width of 25 feet.

Under the ownership of Joe Holmes who was already involved with the Shipley Picture House (and was later to take over the Hippodrome in Barkerend Road, Bradford) and famed for his flamboyant style, he opened the Baildon Picture House on Monday 5th February 1917 with the feature:

Idol of the Stage - 1916 USA B/W Silent drama
Starring Malcolm Williams, Charles W. Travis and John Mackin.
A pianist accompanied the films.

The local newspaper advertised . . . .

It is undoubtedly a fact that no more up-to-date entertainment hall can be found anywhere than at Baildon. People visiting Baildon these weekends can spend a comfortable two hours in the Picture Theatre and may get all kinds of refreshments at the Café at moderate prices. Café also open on Sundays."
Cinema admission prices were 2.1/2d, 5d, 7d and Reserved 9d.

A feature of the Baildon Picture House was that it had a large café upstairs and a dance floor with "Dancing to the Don Bell Orchestra" being a popular attraction. An old photograph taken shortly after its opening clearly shows a sign which reads "Picture House Café and Lounge open daily including Sundays".

All this was at a time when Baildon was run as an Urban District Council (as was Shipley) and not part of the now sprawling Bradford Metropolitan District. Then as now Baildon was a popular place for city business people to live and for visitors and moor walkers at the weekend - all potential customers for the new cinema and café.

In 1921 the Baildon Cinema Co Ltd was formed by the new owners Clifford Briggs (of Briggs Printers in Silsden) who was also proprietor of the Silsden Picture Palace. Briggs was joined by J.A Smith and J.D Smith of Keighley as principal shareholders.

Silent films with piano accompaniment continued until the American Western Electric sound system was installed around 1930 bringing it into the "talkies" era.

In September 1933 the Picture House was advertising a new feature:

"When visiting Baildon (cinema) this weekend don't forget the café and also the New Amusement Arcade"

- to attract the many weekend walkers who came to the moors just up the road.

Later owners were Baildon Cinema Company with James Roberts as manager followed by A.H & N Cinema Circuit (P Artingstall) of Southport (also controlling the New Empire at Rawdon) who kept it going until 1939 when it closed for the duration of the Second World War (1939-1945) during which time the building was taken over (quite why is a mystery) by the Military and for housing evacuees. However, the popular café did continue to operate and was the setting for many formal dinners, wedding receptions and parties, eg. Baildon Army Cadets New Year Part in January 1945.

At the last performance on Saturday 4th February 1939 the final film was:

Slave Ship - 1937 USA B/W 100mins.
Starring Warner Baxter, Mickey Rooney and George Sanders.
Admission Prices from 4d to 1/-.


Travelling Cinema
Several weeks after the Picture House had closed, a "travelling indoor cinema" visited Shipley's Unionist Club and the Parochial Hall in Baildon along with similar venues in nearby villages. These free film shows showed such compilations as:

Island Nation - Stanley Holloway presenting a naval study.
National Magazine - A government propaganda film.
A Great Endeavour - Social documentary.
Deeds Not Words - Nosmo King monologue and playlet.
together with a Will Hay comedy, cuts from news films
plus Mickey Mouse cartoon and a nature film.


After the War
Soon after the war the Baildon Picture House was to re-open again on Friday 18th May 1945 at 7.15pm with some ceremony following an expensive refurbishment by new owners as part of the expanding A.S Hyde Circuit who already controlled the Glenroyal, Pavilion de Luxe and Prince's Hall cinemas in Shipley and several Bradford suburban cinemas. The opening was performed by D.V Scholes, Chairman of Baildon Urban District Council and Clifford Cawthorne, Chairman of the Directors, responded saying that "it has cost a lot of money to re-furbish the cinema. I hope the public of Baildon will support the venture". The audience then enjoyed the film:

Pride & Prejudice - 1940 USA B/W 117 mins.
Starring Greer Garson, Marten Lamont and Laurence Olivier.
Prices 9d, 1/- and 1/6d.


Concert Performance
To have an orchestral/choral concert performed in a suburban cinema is a bit of a rarity in the Bradford/Shipley area but the Baildon Picture House (courtesy of Shack Hyde) played host to the Baildon Music Society Choir and Orchestra for a fine performance of Handel's Messiah on Sunday 29th November 1953 at 7.15pm.
Performers included . . .

Christine Roe (soprano); Margaret Whiteley (contralto);
Edward York (tenor); Frederick Noble (bass);
Willie A. Long (trumpet); Harold G. Robinson (piano);
Conducted by Harry Garbutt.
Leader of the Orchestra Donald Rushworth.

Press reports said "it was one of the best they have given and delighted a large gathering". Tickets for this special event were 2/6d, much more than the regular cinema prices.
Shack Hyde also encouraged stage shows, amateur operatic and dramatic performances to be staged in his Elite cinema in Toller Lane, Bradford.


End of the Line

CinemaScope was installed in early 1956 and seating capacity reduced to 396. Sadly this popular and comfortable little cinema only survived until Saturday 26th March 1960 when it closed with the final double X-certificate programme:

The Mummy - 1959 UK Technicolor 88 mins.
Starring Peter Cushing, Eddie Byrne and Christopher Lee.
Bed Without Breakfast - 1957 Denmark B/W 81 mins.
(aka "Night Girls" in USA and "Natlogi Betalt" in Denmark)
Starring Lee Paterson, Vera Sticker and Hanne Borchsenius.

This landmark building for over 40 years was then used as a library for a while until the Ian Clough Hall opposite was built then the cinema and café building (excluding the butchers shop to the left of the entrance) were offered for sale to the council where it is recorded that . . .
"The District Valuer is to be asked to negotiate with the owners (A.S Hyde group) of the Baildon Cinema and Café with a view to purchase by the Council of the property. This was agreed at the monthly meeting of Baildon Finance and General Purposes Committee. The Committee had before them a letter from the Baildon Townswomen's Guild on the subject of the picture house. Also a letter from Towngate Properties Ltd stating the terms upon which they were prepared to sell."

However, on the intervention of Councillor Reginald W. Bolton (aka "Inky" Bolton, a physics teacher with no interest in cinema!) who declared that the Council (Baildon U.D.C.) were likewise not interested in the proposal. That was the end of that and the cinema was demolished to allow for road widening and redevelopment with shops on the remainder of the site.

Copyright ©2003, Colin Sutton.
Not to be copied or reproduced without permission.


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