Bradford - Olympic Picture Palace/New Olympic

Olympic Picture Palace/New Olympic
Silk Street, Lilycroft Road,
Manningham, Bradford.

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The Name
It is thought the new picture palace was named after the 5th Modern Olympics which were held in Stockholm in 1912 and also after the White Star Line SS Olympic (sister ship of the fated Titanic) for which the adjacent Lister's Mill supplied luxury velvet plush fabrics.


Building and Location
The building was originally the Silk Street Mission Hall at the junction of Silk Street and Lilycroft Road. The disused Hall was bought by Isaac Newton, licensee of the Mowbray Arms in Lily Street from 1912 to 1916.

It was on 9th August 1912 that the company Olympic Picture Palace (Bradford) Ltd was registered with £5,000 in £1 shares by Newton. He and his co-directors Messrs Garton and Emmett altered the hall into a single-deck picture hall.

The interior with 526 seats claimed to have "eye rest" lighting and a screen set into a heavily draped recess. Two Kershaw Kalee projectors were installed to ensure continuity of multi-reel films; there were still other cinemas using only one projector at this time with either breaks or stage acts during reel changes.


The Opening
After a long delay, Isaac Newton eventually opened his new Olympic Picture Palace on Monday 16th February 1914 with Frank Robinson as its manager and with a programme including . . .

"Fruits of Vengeance" - 1910 USA B/W Silent
Starring Julie Swayne Gordon.
"Broncho Billy's Elopement" - 1913 USA B/W Silent
Starring Gilbert M. 'BB' Anderson and Marguerite Clayton.
"When Mother Fell Ill" - B/W Silent.
(No further details available)

Film programmes were continuous from 6.45 to 10.30pm with admission prices of 3d, 4d and 6d. Soon after the opening the cheapest front seats were reduced to 2d. The Olympic proved very popular with the workers of the nearby Lister's Mill, many of whom lived in the surrounding area.

The Bradford Daily Argus reported . . .

"This is one of the latest additions to the City's amusement halls situate in Lilycroft Road and is already providing an attraction in the neighbourhood."

whilst the Bradford Daily Telegraph enthused . . .
"(The Olympic) . . one of the prettiest and best appointed of the many new 'houses' which have recently sprung up in the city and district."

The First World War was declared in August 1914 and lasted until November 1918.


New Owners - New Name
By 1920 it had changed its name to New Olympic after the Olympic Picture Palace Company Ltd with resident manager T. Jerome came under the control of George F. Longden (also involved with Birch Lane cinema and the Bradford Picture House) and Leonard Kitchen (also involved with the Birch, Lyceum and Tennyson). Prices were now 4d to 9d. The cinema had a complete refurbishment to give it a new image.


Special Event
The Bradford Daily Telegraph advertised . . .

Wed/Thurs 22nd and 23rd March 1922
Two Nights only
"Only a Mill Girl" - 1919 UK B/w Silent.
Starring Harry Foxwell, Betty Farquhar and Arthur Condy.
For the first time on record, the Bradford City Concertina Prize Band will play to pictures on these two nights.
About 15 instruments will play first class music only.
Two Houses 6.30 and 8.30pm.
Something to think about - Seven reels with an all Star Cast.


The small Olympic had competition from the larger Coliseum and Elite cinemas in Toller Lane and the Oak Lane cinema, a short distance away down the road.

The Olympic closed on Saturday 20th January 1923 with the final film . . .

"A Tale of Two Worlds"- 1921 USA B/W Silent
(aka "The Water Lily" in USA)
Starring J. Frank Glendon, Leatrice Joy and Wallace Beery.


From being disused for two years, the building was converted into a motor garage in 1925. In later years it was used for storage. The former mission hall/cinema was demolished in 1970 along with part of Silk Street at the Lilycroft Road end.

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


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