Bradford - Coventry Cinema

Coventry Hall Picture House / Coventry Cinema
Wakefield Road,
East Bowling, Bradford.

Coventry Hall
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The hall was situated behind shops on the west side of Wakefield Road between Coventry Street and New Hey Road with its original entrance in Coventry Street (from which the cinema takes its name) though later restructured in Wakefield Road. Neville Road and the landmark St. John's Church were almost opposite.


The Building
A conversion of a very old building on the Wakefield Road side - once a tavern and later a coffee tavern of the Bradford Coffee Tavern Company with an old, though later build, hall behind.


The stalls had a single central block of circa 350 seats plus two rows of forms at the front. There were four rows of double 'love' seats at the rear.

The straight-fronted stepped balcony with circa 126 seats in two blocks with centre aisle. The projection box was slightly offset to the left-hand side at the rear of the balcony. The proscenium at 22 feet wide had a small stage just sufficient for occasional variety acts.


The proprietor Albert E. Shields opened his Coventry Hall on Easter Saturday 22nd April 1913 with . . .

"The Dawning" - 1912 USA B/w Silent.
Starring Leah Baird, Harry Northrup and Earle Williams.
Full supporting programme.
Three hours continuous show over
the Holidays commencing 2.30pm daily.
Popular Prices: 3d, 6d and 9d.
In November 1914 a new entrance was created between two shops in Wakefield Road. In the 1920's proprietors were Northern Cinemas Co Ltd with Herbert Core as resident manager.


Alterations and Talkies
By 1930 major alterations included the addition of a mock-Tudor style frontage in Wakefield Road. The first sound system fitted was the Harrison - a local modification by Albert Harrison; also installed in his own Clayton Picture House. This was soon replaced by the AWH system similar to that installed higher up the road at the Dudley Hill Picture Palace.

AWH logo

The British made AWH sound system named after its electrical engineer inventor, Arthur William Harris (AWH = 'Always Worth Hearing') and eventually installed in over 200 independent cinemas and air force/naval camp cinemas together with the projection rooms of the British Board of Film Censors. Its main claim was quality of both speech and music together with reliability and minimal maintenance. Its full title was 'The AWH Talking Picture Reproducing Apparatus' and could be bought outright rather than leased as with BTH, RCA and Western Electric sound systems. In later years it was actually replaced by the Western Electric set.
[ Further details of the AWH system appear in Bioscope magazine No 109 Nov 2008 pp27-32 in an article by Gerald Hooper. ]


In 1936, with A.S. Whitehead as cinema proprietor, it was Thomas Marriott confectioner on the lower right-hand side of the entrance and Annie Craven a draper on the left-hand upper side.

"Penny Rush" from East Bowling Reflections No 2.
(©East Bowling History Workshop, 1980.)

"We visited every Saturday afternoon in our childhood. It was a great treat to have a penny for the Matinée and a penny for the sweets and here we saw all the first heroes and heroines of the silent films. There was a pianist to provide suitable accompaniment to the thunderous cowboy films, dramas and serials and to fill in whenever the projector broke down. Local shops used to screen display advertisements between films. I remember a good news programme called Pathé Gazette."

In later years patrons of "the Cov" recall that to the left of the entrance was Agnes - a ladies hairstylist and next door the café of A. Boyd. On the right of the entrance was a sweets and tobacco shop with weighing scales in the doorway and the barber's shop a few doors below.

Council records/plans for 1945 show a total of 433 seats and another 28 on forms at the front.


Later Owners
Ace Cinemas (Lionel Agar, a local grocer) also involved in the Astra lower down Wakefield Road; Birch Lane cinema and Elysian Palace at Lidget Green and the Oxford. Later Cliff Parrott, a local haulage contractor, with his Parman Cinemas which also included the Oxford Cinema at Undercliffe.

There is no record of either a widescreen or CinemaScope being installed.


The building had become run down and in poor condition. The Coventry Hall closed on Saturday 12th December 1959 with . . .

"Room at the Top" - 1958 UK B/w 117 mins.
Starring Laurence Harvey, Simone Signoret and Heather Sears.
This film had been shot locally in Bingley and in Bradford city centre where the gritty story by John Braine was set.

The former cinema, shops and nearby houses were all demolished in the 1960s for the widening of Wakefield Road.

Copyright ©2007, Colin Sutton.
May not be copied or reproduced without permission.


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