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A prominent corner position at the junction of Carlisle Road (Bradford Ring Road) and Carlisle Street; a heavily populated area of Victorian terraced housing and surrounding mills.
The distinctive red brick purpose built cinema with its entrance in Carlisle Road and the Auditorium extending along Carlisle Street. The arched entrance surrounded by white faience tiles. The entrance was topped by a hexagonal domes tower with internally lit arched windows making it a landmark in the district.
Designed by local architect T. Patrick, its red brick stood out from the surrounding old darkened stone properties. The proprietor was Moulson's Marlboro Cinema Company headed by Milton Moulson. The name 'The Marlboro' is seen carved high on the entrance tower - it was the only Bradford cinema to have 'The' included in its proper name.
Ascending the internal steps of the recessed entrance leads to the stalls foyer running parallel to Carlisle Road and with a huge leaded glass window and stairs to the balcony.
The auditorium with barrel-vaulted ceiling had 1,250 seats in its raked stalls and stepped balcony arranged in three blocks with two aisles. The front row of the stalls was 13feet 8inches from the screen set in the curtained proscenium opening with small stage. The projection room situated at the rear of the balcony.
Later seating plans showed 922 seats in stalls and 325 in balcony with a total of 1247 in 1931 but only 305 in balcony and a total of 1227 in 1944.
Milton Moulson opened his Marlboro on Monday 28th November 1921 at 7.30pm with . . .
Grand Double Feature Attraction
The Bradford Daily Telegraph reported . . .
"Love's Harvest" - 1920 USA B/w Silent.
Starring Shirley Mason, Raymond McKee and Edwin B. Tilton.
"The Church on Over Shot Wheel" - USA B/w Silent.
First Class Orchestra
Popular Prices: 6d, 9d and 1/-d (in tax)
Matinée each day at 2 o'clock.
"The Marlboro cinema opened its doors last night and two large crowds were entertained by a well chosen programme. The clearness of the pictures was commented on and each 'house' voiced appreciation of the capital music provided by the orchestra."
Whilst the Bradford Daily Argus reported . . .
"The building has an imposing exterior and is advantageously situated, while the finishing touches have just been added to pleasing interior decorative scheme."
Later advertising referred to the Marlboro Super Orchestra with Mr H. Stott as Musical Director. In 1925 it was selections by the Marlboro Picture House Orchestra.
By 1926 with James Whiteside as general manager, the continuous programme had two changes weekly and prices had dropped to 5d and 8d reflecting the economic hardship of the time.
The British Thompson Houston (BTH) sound equipment was installed by 1930 and in use throughout the war period.
In 1950 Walter Eckhart's Star Cinemas (London) Ltd had acquired the Marlboro and installed the Western Electric sound set. Seating capacity was now 1,200.
Widescreen and CinemaScope
From 4th February 1954 it advertised its "Wide Panoramic Screen", this was later modified for CinemaScope but stereo sound was never installed. Seating again reduced to 1,144 due to the larger screen.
There are many stories about 'Russian Anna' (or 'Polish Anna') - a large and formidable character well known in the city centre in the period after the war. Some people were frightened of her but others spoke of her more caring side and love of children.
Anna (real name Amalie Torba) was a regular patron at the Marlboro and youngsters hanging around outside asking adults to take them in to an A-certificate film could usually rely on Anna to oblige, but once inside she would say "clear off" and she sat by herself. Sometimes Anna would take a bite out of a child's ice lolly which frightened them. These Marlboro anecdotes and countless others from across the city were recalled in a major feature article in the Telegraph & Argus in July 2007 of the (in retrospect) much loved Russian Anna.
Bingo and Films
Star introduced Bingo to many of its cinemas on a part-time basis. The Marlboro ran films on Monday to Wednesday and the Saturday Junior Club with the Bingo on Thursday to Saturday evenings.
Film programmes eventually finished on Wednesday 10th October 1962 with two X-certificate films . . .
"The Young Have No Morals" - 1959 france B/w+Colour 78mins.
The Star Junior Club closed on Saturday 13th October 1962 with two performances at 10.00am and 2.00pm.
Starring Jacques Charrier, Charles Aznavour and Dany Robin.
"Madeleine" - 1958 Germany B/w 85mins.
Starring Eva Bartok, Alexander Kerst and Sabine Sesselmann.
The Marlboro continued with the full-time Star Bingo Club offering "Super American Bingo" until 1968 when sessions were transferred to the Elite in Duckworth Lane.
Asian Films then Warehouse
From 1968 to 1982 it became known as the Liberty Cinema. Three different groups exhibited there: Anglo-Overseas Distributors, Indo-Pak Film Club and Asian Film Club but all three pulled out because of heavy losses. Asian patrons had complained that the cinema was old fashioned, draughty and badly insulated. After a short closure in 1981 another effort was made to re-start the Liberty with shopkeeper Mohammed Akram as head of the group put together to buy the cinema and eventually signed a 5-year lease on the building.
After closure the premises became a bedding and textile warehouse and the balcony and raked stalled floor were removed.
Return to Cinema
In 2000 a major refurbishment costing £1/2 million to return the premises to a cinema were announced by Asian Cine Ltd with Nirmal Singh Sekhon (solicitor and property landlord), Mark Husband (similarly involved with the Shipley Flicks 4-screen cinema) and Charles Morris of Northern Morris Cinemas also Usha Parmar chief executive of Sunrise Radio.
An earlier 1999 plan to create a 350 seat cinema and 100 seat restaurant did not materialise. The new venture was to have a rebuilt stepped rear stalls with 400 seats. As the original balcony had been removed, the rear of the auditorium was to have six private viewing boxes and the projection room at the highest level.
A single projector with cakestand platter and equipped with Dolby stereo surround sound plus a 40 feet wide curved frame supporting a 39feet x 18feet Perlux screen fronted by wall-to-wall curtains.
A new suspended ceiling and total redecoration, seating and carpeting along with a chair lift for the disabled at the front entrance and new signage heralded a new future for the Marlboro and now specialising in Bollywood films.
The new cinema boasting the largest Bollywood screen in the area and hailed as the north's first dedicated Bollywood cinema was opened by the Lord Mayor, Cllr Stanley King on Friday 7th July 2000 at 7.30pm with the showing of . . .
"Kuch Kuch Hota Hai" - 1998 India Colour 177mins.
The cinema manager Yavar Ahmed later became a director of Asian Cine Ltd. In the months that followed it struggled to attract audiences and several directors resigned.
Starring Shahrukh Khan, Kajol and Rani Mukherjee.
In 'Scope with Dolby Stereo Surround Sound.
In the early hours of Monday 8th January 2001 a disastrous blaze wrecked the cinema gutting the front entrance foyer right up to the projection room leaving a hole in the roof. The auditorium was saved despite smoke and water damage. The cause was reported as being arson. Talk of resurrecting the cinema was shortlived and Asian Cine Ltd went into receivership. It emerged that some local Asian residents were not happy about the presence of the cinema or that money from the Single Regeneration Budget had been sunk in the project.
New Function Hall
Copyright ©2007, Colin Sutton.
The fire damaged part of the building, still owned by Nirmal Singh Sekhon, was rebuilt and the former cinema converted into an Asian Marriage Hall and function hall and still continues in 2007.
May not be copied or reproduced without permission.
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