Bradford - Coronet Cinema

Coronet Cinema
Otley Road/Cliffe Road,
Undercliffe, Bradford.

Former Coronet Cinema
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Location and Building
Occupying a prime position on the western side of Otley Road at its junction with Cliffe Road opposite the entrance to Peel Park and originally surrounded by streets of terraced housing it was a good location for a new silent cinema. The Yorkshire stone building with pitched slate roof was purpose-built in 1923. It was on a triangular area of land formed by the junction of Cliffe Road and Airedale Road with only its narrow front entrance facing Otley Road - a busy main road and bus route.

For many years it was known as the Coronet Picture House owned and managed by Albert Harrison who had aslo been involved with the Clayton (later Rialto) Picture House.


The Interior
The small vestibule entrance with simple canopy led directly to the single-deck auditorium with rakes floor and barrel-vaulted ceiling. Seating originally some 750 people (later reduced to 603), the seat were arranged in three blocks with two aisles and a fron side exit at each side. The side walls each had three curtained windows. The proscenium width of 22 feet with decorative grilles at each side and a very small stage with screen at 16x12 feet mounted on the rear wall. The projection room was at first floor level above the entrance.


Grand Opening
The Coronet first opened on its doors on Monday 2nd July 1923 at 6.30pm with . . .

Grand Opening Performance
"The Second Mrs Tanqueray" - 1916 UK B/W Silent
A Drama featuring Pina Menichelli.
Perfect Music - Popular Prices.
The Bradford Daily Telegraph advertised "Come and see the Special Screening of the film version of Sir Arthur Wing Pinero's famous novel." The 'perfect music' was provided by a trio of piano, violin and drums. In the opening week children were given balloons and a rather novel monthly programme printed on blotting paper for their school notebooks.

The Coronet was soon to have competition from the much larger Tennyson cinema built only a few months later and only a quarter of a mile down Otley Road.

Around 1930, Harrison first installed his own 'Harrison Sound System' similar to that installed at his Clayton cinema. It is believed that Harrison actually first experimented with the Brunswick Panotrope which was a non-sync turntable system (by Brunswick Gramophone Co. USA) and installed by Electrocord of Leeds. Later the Western Electric sound set was installed which necessitated building an outboard "box" extension on the rear wall to accommodate the loudspeaker horn assembly as there was otherwise no room behind the screen. The building of such box extensions was quite common in those early days. Seating was reduced to 597 and prices were 4d to 7d.


Stupid Error!
The Telegraph & Argus of Saturday 15th May 1941 reported . . .

"Albert Harrison, proprietor of the Coronet Cinema, was in Bradford (Court) yesterday fined £2.10s.0d for issuing cinema tickets upon which the price of admission was not legibly printed. Mr H.M Dawson for the defendant, said only a few children's tickets had been issued unstamped because the cinema had run out of the stamps. The loss to the Excise was only 2s.6.1/2d. The Stipenary Magistrate said this appears to be more a matter of muddle, stupidity and carelessness than anything else."
An all that at a time when cinemas were suffering effects of Entertainment Tax.


New Ownership
In the 1940s the Coronet Cinema Co Ltd was taken over by C & H Cinemas (Cawthorne & Hyde) part of the expanding A.S Hyde Circuit of Shipley. More details of Shack Hyde and his cinemas can be found in the Shipley Cinemas History section. In Bradford, Hyde was to take over the Elite and Coliseum in Toller Lane and to build the new Arcadian super-cinema at Lidget Green.

A new wide screen was installed in March 1954 and the first film to be shown in this on Thursday 25th March 1954 was . . .

"The Savage" - 1952 USA Technicolor 95mins.
Starring Charlton Heston, Susan Morrow and Peter Hanson.
The is was simply an optically enlarged standard 35mm print with top and bottom masked off to give the new 'widescreen' aspect ratio. The screen was later adapted for CinemaScope but not very effective withing the small proscenium opening.


Fire Damage
The Coronet suffered a fire on Monday 31st January 1955 in which the screen, stage and proscenium were destroyed. The Telegraph & Argus reported that fire "believed to have started in a pile of rubbish near the boiler house" at the rear of the building.

Shack Hyde, who leased the cinema with the executors of the late Clifford Cawthorne, said optimistically "It might open within a fortnight" but it actually took three weeks to construct a new proscenium and renovate the auditorium for a re-opening on Thursday 24th February 1955 with:

"The Fortune Hunters" - 1954 USA Trucolor 87mins
(aka "The Outcast" in USA)
Starring John Derek, Joan Evans and Jim Davis.
with the support film:
"Case of Diamonds" with C. Evans.
(no further details known)
Local licensing records show that seating was now 595.

Closure of Cinema
The late 1950s was a bad time for suburban cinemas with the larger city-centre cinemas offering CinemaScope widescreen and competition from television. The Coronet fell victim to declining audiences and 'Teddy Boy' problems and closed on Saturday 27th September 1958 with the final film

"The Duke Wore Jeans" - 1958 UK 90mins.
Starring Tommy Steele, June Laverick and Michael Medwin.


New Use as Warehouse
The premises were then stripped of its seating, proscenium and cinema fittings then converted into a warehouse for grocery supplies formed by a co-operative of local traders. Wholesale food distribution continued and more recently by Imperial Foods specialising in Asian cash-and-carry catering supplies. In recent years a triangular shaped loading area had been built on the left hand side of the former cinema auditorium in Airedale Road and internally three large openings connected with the auditorium warehouse. The building continued to be named Coronet House.


Building Gutted by Major Fire
Coroner Fire 2003
Finally a disastrous fire in the early hours of Tuesday 29th July 2003 gutted the entire building and forcing quick demolition of outside walls for safety reasons. The result of this event can be clearly seen in the photographs.

Former Coronet Cinema building gutted in 2003

After 80 years the Coronet building was now just a memory. The site has since been totally cleared and offered for sale for development.

Copyright ©2003, Colin Sutton.
May not be copied or reproduced without permission.


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