Bradford - Grand Picture House

Grand Picture House
Manchester Road,

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On the left-hand side of Manchester Road as you leave the city and hidden away behind a row of shops between Portland Street (on the city side) and Clifford Street (on the south side) and only a short distance above the Central Hall Primitive Methodist Mission which also doubled as a cinema for a number of years in competition with the Grand. The entrance to the Grand was at 125 Manchester Road between a row of shops and the Griffin Public House. The surrounding district was fairly densely populated and a good catchment area.


The Building
The purpose stone-built building was erected in a large open area at the back of the shops and almost adjacent to a complex of much older buildings known as Marshall's Mill.

Entering the Grand from Manchester Road led to a long narrow foyer/lobby running at the back of the hall with steps to the left down to the picture hall which ran parallel to the shops and the main road.

The picture hall was approximately 50 feet long at stalls level and 35 feet wide as scaled from a building plan. Main access was from doors at the rear of the hall from the lobby and with one exit door half way down its length on the right-hand side leading out into Marshall's Mill yard.


The picture hall had a small balcony about 20 feet from front to back which extended back over the long narrow lobby from which it was accessed by two sets of stairs. The hall was said to accommodate around 500 people with its screen mounted on the wall at the northern (city) end.

The small projection room of only about 9 feet square was built externally to the hall at the southern end and at the back of the balcony. Its only access was an external staircase outside the building in the mill yard.


The Opening
The man behind this enterprise was Lewis Boocock who opened the Grand on Friday 24th May 1912 when the Bradford Daily Argus extolled . . .

"An addition to the picture houses of Bradford was made yesterday (24th May) when the Grand Picture House was opened giving two houses a night and matinées on Wednesday and Saturday."

The opening attractions for Whitsuntide Week were . . .

"The Victoria Cross" - 1912 USA B/W Silent Drama
(aka "The Charge of the Light Brigade" in the USA)
Starring Tefft Johnson, Edith Storey and Wallace Reid.
"The Deputy's Love Affair" - 1912 USA B/W Silent Comedy
Starring Gilbert M. 'Broncho Billy' Anderson and Vedah Bertram.

Plus film of a London outcast and how faithfully he did his duty on the Indian Frontier.
Also film of splendid views of Portugal.
Popular Prices 2d, 4d and 6d.
Twice Nightly 7.00 and 9.00pm. Matinées Wed & Sat 2.15pm.

The Bradford Daily Argus reported . . .

"The picture house is a lofty and admirably appointed hall which has comfortable accommodation for over 500 people".

Whilst the Bradford Daily Telegraph claimed . . .
"This new hall which was recently opened by Mr Lewis Boocock . . . . was well attended at matinées and evening performances yesterday when a programme of exceptional merit was presented".

By September 1912 the popularity of the Grand had been firmly established as the Bradford Daily Argus reported . . .
"Good pictures, comfortable seats and courteous attention are the attractions at the Grand Picture House . . . . (showing) moving dramas and stories which win hearty applause".


New Owner
From 23rd June 1916 the lease was taken over at an annual rental of 135GBP by Eddie Anderton's Elite Picture House Co Ltd who already controlled the Elite and Coliseum cinemas across the city in Toller Lane.
By 1923 prices were 4d to 9d for continuous performances with two changes weekly.


Up for Auction
On Thursday 31st July 1924 an evening auction took place at the city's Empress Hotel of the collection of buildings comprising cinema, mill and warehouse known as Marshall's Mill. The Grand Picture House was still being leased by the Elite Picture House Co Ltd, the terms of which expired on 1st April 1925.

The architect/surveyor for the sale of the premises was William Illingworth of Sunbridge Road who was no stranger to cinemas as he had earlier designed the Prince's Hall and Saltaire Picture House both in Shipley and was later (in 1930) to design the sumptuous New Victoria Theatre half a mile away in the city centre.

Eddie Anderton purchased the cinema and installed R. Hiles as resident manager. At this time prices were reduced to 3d to 5d to regain more business in these lean times. Seating accommodation was now around 436.


Music and Talkies
In the silent film days a small orchestra was engaged for musical accompaniment and probably comprising only two or three players.

In 1930 the British Talking Pictures (BTP) sound system was installed by Eddie Anderton - the same system he had fitted at his Elite and Coliseum cinemas. As 'talkie' films were more expensive to hire, the orchestra was retained for a while to support some of the silent films still in circulation and advertised . . .

"The Grand will show the Best Talking Pictures and the Pick of the Silent Pictures".


Closure then Boxing
The Grand Picture House closed on Saturday 30th April 1932 with the simple announcement . . .

"The Grand will close indefinitely".

On Monday 19th November 1934 the premises were reopened by John MacDermott as 'Macs Boxing Stadium'.

At this time the row of shops in Manchester Road were occupied by . . .
(from Portland Street)
117 Firth & Co - House furnishers
119-121 John Lea - Family draper
123 Joseph Hodgson - Gramophone dealer
125 (former Grand Picture House) Boxing Stadium
127 Griffin Public House - Jas Morley, beer retailer
131 Harry Overend - Secondhand furniture
(to corner of Clifford Street).

The Boxing Stadium closed in 1939 with the impending war. The shops (Nos. 117 to 121) to the left of the former picture house entrance had later become Dixieland Ltd famed for their mix of fancy goods, wallpaper, radios and cycles whilst the former Griffin public house and adjoining shop had become Classic Joinery & Building Contractors.


These properties including the former cinema were demolished in 1969 as part of the road widening scheme of Manchester Road, similarly Portland Street had all but disappeared to accommodate a wider and diverted Croft Street.

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