Pavilion de Luxe

Pavilion de Luxe
Commercial Street, Shipley.

Pavilion 1956

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Location and Building
The Pavilion was a purpose-built stone and brick building with tiled pitched roof erected at the junction of busy Commercial Street with Rhodes Place near the old Corn Mill in Wainman Street (at the back of the cinema) and only a couple of hundred yards away from the older Queen's Palace Theatre (later Shipley Picture House). Built originally by Frederick Siegel an Austrian who left his country in the run up to the First World War. Later it was to be run by T.N Howe who had other cinema interests in Yorkshire along with H.C Burrell. The Pavilion was a single deck hall (although a balcony was added several years later) with 700 seats crammed into its small interior making it an intimate sort of place with the motto "The little theatre with the big reputation". The German made projector was by Ernemann Werke of Dresden and supplied by W. Tyler of Birmingham.

The first Proprietors were Shipley Pavilion Ltd with Frederick Siegel as Managing Director. Siegel was also a director of the newly formed Ilkley Theatre Company Ltd. The Registrar of Joint Stock Companies granted a Certificate of Incorporation to the new company on the 2nd July 1912.


The Opening
With the opening scheduled for October 1912 the Bradford Daily Argus reported . . .

"Application made at the Bradford West Riding Police Court today for a singing, music and dancing licence for the Pavilion de Luxe, a new cinematograph hall to be opened tonight (14 Oct 1912).
. . . (the) County Council architect had inspected the building and expressed his satisfaction. The necessary cinematograph licence would be granted."

The Shipley Pavilion de Luxe did indeed open for business on the evening of Monday 14th October 1912 and became the second picture house in Shipley as the Prince's Hall had opened in the previous year. The proceeds from the opening performance were donated to the Guild of Help local charity.

Films were shown twice nightly at 7.00 and 9.00pm and boasted . . .

"Brilliant programme shown in a manner that has hitherto not been equalled anywhere. Come and enjoy it in Cosy, Warm and Restful surroundings. Our Hall is Entirely Free from Draught.
Matinées Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 3.00pm.
Special Children's Matinée every Sat at 2.30pm.
Special Stalls 9d, Grand Stalls 6d, Pit Stalls 4d. Front Area 2d.
Seats in Special and Grand Stalls may be booked in advance (5d extra)."


Boardroom Shake-up
In the midst of the First World War (1914-1918) the Directors of Shipley Pavilion Ltd (as the company was known) held an Extraordinary Meeting on December 28th 1916 where George Frederick Lund was appointed Chairman and Managing Director. This followed "intimation of their desire to retire as Directors" of Frederick Siegel and a Mr Williams. Five new directors were appointed and Siegel's substantial shareholding was transferred to Frederick Charles Mitchell. The Austrian Mr Siegel was now no longer involved whilst Britain was still at war with Germany and Austria/Hungary.

Two weeks later in January 1917, the Pavilion de Luxe promptly advertised in the local newspaper"

"Under New Management
All British, All British
Managing Director G.F. Lund
General Manager W.E. Holland"

Repeated adverts stressed the "All British" claim!

Another Extraordinary Meeting the following month saw the removal of the Secretary and a new appointment made. Much boardroom activity and changes were to be seen in the following years. The new general manager, W.E 'Ted' Holland, was to shake things up a bit too.


Directors Decisions
An example of some important decisions taken by the Directors concerned with the running of this small picture house from 1915 to 1934 can be seen by clicking here. The extracts are taken from the Minute Book of Shipley Pavilion Ltd, the company controlling the hall and provide an interesting insight into its priorities.


William Edgar 'Ted' Holland
The local weekly Shipley Times & Express reported the arrival of Ted Holland thus . . .

"Mr W.E. Holland new manager at the Pavilion de Luxe and is the right man in the right place (and at the right time, it seems!). He comes to Shipley from one of the chief picture houses in Bradford (actually, is was the Oriental in Oak Lane where he met his wife-to-be). Only 23 years old with wide experience, bubbling over with enthusiasm. He is an experienced operator and knows the business from the thread to the needle and a feature of his projections has always been clearness and steadiness of the pictures. When he has got all the apparatus he requires he may be relied upon to satisfy the numerous patrons of the theatre of which he has now taken full charge."


Talented Pianist
In January 1917 one of the first additions to the Pavilion de Luxe made by the newly appointed Ted Holland was that of a Mr Parker, a new and rather talented pianist. Again the local newspaper extolled his virtues enthusiastically . . .

"Mr Parker, a newly acquired pianist of considerable ability and fame . . . . his is pleasurable playing and he would appear to have gone far towards perfecting the true type of cinema music. His execution is clean, crisp and erudite, and as an extempore player he is unrivalled in his expert use of the most sonorous keys . . . . adequately expressioned and harmonised renderings. Mr Parker is supreme in his sphere by reason of his own musical ability and unrivalled experience.

Patrons of the 'de Luxe' will indeed find pleasure from seeing and hearing. Mr W.E Holland, the new Manager, is doing everything he can to make the Pavilion de Luxe even more popular than it has been in the past."


New Balcony Opened
In 1919 it was decided to enlarge the theatre with the erection of a balcony at a cost of over 1,000GBP. Two months of advertising during May and June of 1920 "Watch for Opening Date of Luxurious new Balcony" during which films continued to be shown in the evenings whilst construction continued during the daytime. The big day arrived on Monday 12th July 1920 with the announcement . . .

The Management beg to announce the Opening of the Luxurious New Balcony when as an initial attraction they will present D.W Griffith's Masterpiece . . .
"Broken Blossoms" - 1919 USA B/W tinted screen Silent 90 mins.
Starring Lillian Gish, Richard Barthelmess and Donald Crisp.
Without exception, the most remarkable and beautiful film being shown at the present time - vide press.
Balcony 1/3d. Other prices as usual.


Music and Talkies
In those early days of silent films some musical accompaniment was essential. In 1921 a 7-piece orchestra was formed by the local violinist Arthur Mitchell.

A curious piece of advertising appeared in the Shipley Time & Express on June 9th 1922 which read as follows:

"An invitation to Shipley's grand old ladies.
The central figure in the beautiful film "Over the Hill" is a silver haired old lady: 'Ma Benton'.
Now Mother, if your hair is silver, we cordially invite you to visit one of our two Matinées to see this wonderful story of Mother Love.
        . . . . The Management, Pavilion de Luxe."

For the record the film was:

"Over the Hill" - 1920 USA B/W Silent
(aka "Over the Hill to the Poorhouse" in USA)
Starring Mary Carr (as Ma Benton) and James Sheridan.

The purpose of the advert was to entice the Senior Citizens to the Pavilion in the same week as the (delayed) opening of the rival Saltaire Picture House less than a mile a way as the Saltaire PH had invited "old aged people of Shipley" to its charity opening.

In October 1922 W.E. (Ted) Holland was to leave the Pavilion to manage the newly opened Saltaire Picture House. T.P Jennings took his place at the Pavilion.

Around 1930 the British Thompson Houston (BTH) sound system was installed.


New Ownership - A.S Hyde Circuit
On Thursday 28th December 1944 (with World War II still going on) the Pavilion de Luxe was purchased by C & H Cinemas (Cawthorne & Hyde) who already had other cinema interests in Shipley with the Prince's Hall and Glenroyal thus now having a monopoly in Shipley together with picture houses in nearby Bradford - all were now part of the expanding A.S. Hyde Circuit.
Following some changes and small improvements coincident with the retirement of William Lloyd Smith in January 1945 the Pavilion de Luxe quietly and without fuss opened under Hyde's new ownership on Thursday 1st February 1945 with . . .

"Falling Stones" - 1942 USA/UK B/W Western 59 mins.
(aka "Overload to Deadwood" in USA)
Starring Charles Starrett, Russell Hayden and Cliffe Edwards.

Followed on Monday 5th February 1945 with the popular . . .

"Pin-up Girl" - USA 1944 Technicolor 84 mins.
Starring Betty Grable, John Harvey and Martha Raye.

The Pavilion de Luxe despite its grand name was now known locally as the "bug 'ole" (or "bug oil" in dialect) due to its run-down external appearance and now rather plain interior in its later years and was certainly no match for its grand new neighbour Glenroyal just along the road. In 1949 Shack Hyde instigated some much needed refurbishment during which the seating capacity was reduced to 630.


Inevitable End
Widescreen and/or CinemaScope was never installed and so the Pavilion de Luxe could not compete with the other Shipley cinemas and it closed on Saturday 24th November 1956 with the final film:

"Princess of the Nile" - 1954 USA Technicolor Adventure 71 mins.
starring Debra Padget, Jeffrey Hunter and Michael Rennie.
Plus a "Full supporting programme".

There is no truth in the misguided tale that Shipley Paint & Varnish Company took over the cinema - the large sign on the side of the building seen in newspaper photographs was simply to direct vehicles to another building in Wainman Street. In fact, part of the cinema building was occupied by Jarvis the Bookmaker until 1970 after which it was all demolished for a road widening scheme and the re-development of the Fox Corner road junction.

Copyright ©2003, Colin Sutton.
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