Bradford - Empress

Empress Picture Palace
Legrams Lane,
Listerhills, Bradford.

Former Empress cinema
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Located in a the busy Legrams Lane between Ira Ickringill & Co Ltd (worsted yarn spinners) in the landmark Legrams Mills and Cottam Avenue. The area was densely populated in streets of terraced housing.


The Building
A purpose-built stone construction of simple design with a single deck auditorium. Erected in the summer of 1914 with the First World War looming.

The hall had a seating capacity of circa 650 arranged in three blocks with two aisles and a cross aisle connecting with two side exits. The front row was 11ft 3ins from the screen which was mounted on the rear wall.


Civic Opening
The proprietor, Eric H. Hartman, opened his new Empress Picture Palace with style on Thursday 22nd October 1914 . . .

Grand Opening by the Rt. Hon. The Lord Mayor
Alderman John Arnold, Esq, JP.
Opening Ceremony at 2.30pm. Evening at 7 and 9pm.
Tickets to be had at entrance for evening performance.
Proceeds will be devoted to the Lord Mayor's Fund.
The opening films were . . .
"The Right of Way" - 1914 USA B/W Silent
Starring Van Dyke Brooke, Norma Talmadge and Leo Delaney.
"The Chief of Police" - 1914 USA B/W Silent
Starring Paul Hirst, Marin Sais and William H. West.
Grand Supporting Programme.
A pianist provided a musical accompaniment.
(By coincidence these two films were also shown at the opening on Monday 19th October 1914 of the Victoria Picture Palace less than a mile away in Girlingon.)


Various Proprietors
During the war years (1914-1918) Albert Crow was resident manager. In the early 1920's proprietors were the Empress Picture House Company with John Meynall as resident manager when it was two shows nightly and two programme changes weekly. Local records show Jas. Edward Maynell as manager in 1927.


Sound Arrives
The Western Electric sound system was installed circa 1929. By 1934 the proprietor was listed as Listerhills Cinema Ltd with A. Meynell as manager with prices from 5d to 1/-d. Seating capacity was 654. In September 1937 the Empress was boasting the new Western Electric Mirrophonic sound system. In 1944 the listed seating capacity was reduced to 547 for licensing purposes.

By 1949, still under the same management, the seating had been reduced to 476 in the same 3-blocks 2-aisles layout. Prices were 10d to 1/6d rising to 1/-d to 1/9d in 1950.

There is no record of of CinemaScope being fitted at the Empress and so it was not able to compete with the much smarter Arcadian cinema just up the road at Lidget Green.


The Empress closed on Sunday 15th July 1956 with the final films . . .

"Appointment with Venus" - 1951 USA B/W 90mins.
Starring David Niven, Glynis Johns and Kenneth More.
"Mark of the Renegade" - 1951 USA Technicolor 81mins.
Starring Ricardo Montalban, Cyd Charisse and J. Carol Naish.
A notice was posted outside "Closed until further notice". In fact, it never reopened as a cinema but remained dark for almost four years. In 1960 the premises were adapted for use as a small manufacturing workshop of Mansfield Pollard & Co sheet metal engineers who renamed the building Empress Works. Later it became a furniture showroom.

The building has since been demolished.

Copyright ©2004, Colin Sutton.
May not be copied or reproduced without permission.


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