Prince's Hall/Studios 1234/Unit Four/Shipley Flicks|
Bradford Road, Shipley.
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Early Site History
The Shipley Pavilion was for Dan Hardie's "Players Concert Party" but this had to close down in as local residents in Selborne Terrace objected to the crowds who came to see the concert party. This prime location near the junction of Bradford Road and Otley Road, both originally turnpike roads, was thought ideal for such a new enterprise.
From March 1907 animated pictures were presented by Sidney Carter of New Century Pictures who had established his "pictures" interest at the St. George's Hall in Bradford along with Sam Wilson famed locally for his Wilson's Travelling Cinema - more details about Sam Wilson can be found on the Introduction page.
Following the closure of the Shipley Pavilion Wilson dropped out of the partnership and returned to his favourite hobby of running the Glen Tramway on Shipley Glen. Sidney Carter then purchased the site with a view to building his own picture hall to promote his blossoming New Century Pictures.
New Picture House - Prince's Hall
The proscenium opening had a width of 22 feet and shallow depth with curtains but no other stage facilities were ever added. The colour scheme employed was mainly cream and green to show off the artistic fibrous plaster moulding decoration. All of the 1100+ seats had an unobstructed view of the screen - this was important to Sidney Carter as he had experienced annoying pillar obstructions at his St. George's Hall in Bradford.
From the very start the hall was supplied with electricity throughout plus a generator had also been fitted.
Grand Coronation Opening
Later in January 1913 the Prince's Hall proudly advertised . . .
"The Picture House - Without exception the finest, handsomest, safest and most convenient Picture Hall in the United Kingdom. Now showing a full and complete series of Animated Pictures."
During the First World War, 1917 for example, the Prince's Hall advertised for its continuous evening programmes:
"Come when you like - stay as long as you like"
Adding as a precaution the now ubiquitous phrase:
"The Management reserve the right to refuse admission."
A "War Tax" of 1d and 2d was added to admission prices.
To accompany silent films an orchestra was formed under the direction of Peter Saltenstall and later by Albert Hill. Sometimes a solo pianist would play.
By late 1929 the American Western Electric sound system was installed so gradually making the organ redundant as more sound films became available; it was then later dismantled and sold for spares.
A well known manager of the Prince's Hall was Frank H. Fortune of Shipley and later owners in the 1940's were C & H Cinemas (Clifford Cawthorne and A.S Hyde) - names which keeps re-appearing the history of Shipley cinemas and who took over PH Entertainments Ltd to absorb into the expanding A.S Hyde Circuit for which more details about Shack Hyde and his cinemas can be found by clicking here.
Widescreen then CinemaScope
It was a year later in 1954 that CinemaScope was installed and the screen adapted to suit. The opening film was on Sunday 7th November 1954 was . . .
First Presentation in Shipley of the New 'CinemaScope' method of Film Exhibition
Wherever the film played, the advertising carried the tagline . . .
"The first motion picture in CinemaScope - the modern miracle you see without glasses!"
This was followed a week later on Sunday 14th November with . . .
"How to Marry A Millionaire" - 1953 USA Technicolor 95 mins.
Internally, the auditorium was repainted, recarpeted together with new heating and lighting plus new seats with capacity now reduced to 1000. The large panoramic screen fitted by Shack Hyde was removed and a slightly larger one installed with motorized masking plus new screen curtains.
The reopening by Star was on Thursday 10th January 1963 and advertised as . . .
Shipley's New Luxury Cinema
The new manager was 30 year-old bachelor Terry S. Hyde (no relation to A.S Hyde) who came to Shipley from the Regal at Five Lane Ends, Eccleshill, also controlled by Star at this time. Following their success at the Regal, Terry Hyde introduced children's matinées on Saturday afternoons.
Almost 10 years after Star's takeover the Prince's Hall was closed in June 1972 for further major structural alterations.
Star's Quad Cinemas
Shipley was to have the first "quad", that is four mini-cinemas in the old Stalls area of the Prince's Hall with the later option of perhaps a fifth screen upstairs in the balcony area. The cinema was to be re-named Studios 1234.
The original Stalls area was partitioned (and sound-proofed) to make two mini cinemas (or Studios as Star called them) at the back and two more at the front with a corridor for access running straight down the centre and all following the rake (slope) of the original stalls floor. Seating capacities were small (as were the actual screen sizes) varying between 90 and 140. Carpets and linoleum were fitted by L.B Lockwood & Co of Bradford and the new seating by G. Bryan & Sons of Sleaford.
Four new projectors with the latest platters were fitted for continuous projection of shows of up to three and a half hours.
Seating capacities were now: Studio 1 - 90; Studio 2 - 95; Studio 3 - 140 and Studio 4 - 125 giving a total of 450. Each Studio had a different colour theme . . .
Studios 1234 Opening
"Love Story" - 1970 USA Color Drama/romance 99 mins
Each feature had "A Full Supporting Programme".
The upper part of the building (the old balcony area) was left unused for the remainder of its existence and not further developed due to cost and fire regulations.
Unit 4 - New Owners
The premised closed abruptly in 1980 due to serious storm damage to the steep pitched roof. After a whole new roof was added, the cinemas re-opened again for business in 1981. Control was later transferred to the Oxford based Apollo Cinemas.
The new owners Mark Husband and Iqbal Sekhon had between them spent thousands of Pounds on refurbishment including new carpets and installing Dolby Surround Sound but failed to attract sufficiently large audiences.
Closure and Demolition
After almost 100 years, Shipley now no longer has a cinema anywhere in its area and apart from the Glenroyal building (now Bingo) in Briggate, all evidence of the existence of the other cinemas has totally disappeared.
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