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    Apr 2008
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    Arrow Holmfirth Picturedrome Cinema- 10/5/08

    During the Holmfirth Folk festival last weekend, i managed to gain access to the Holmfirth Picturedrome Cinema. The cinema has a strange projection arrangement, The projection room is located high above the ceiling and uses a series of mirrors (like a periscope) for projection.
    The other year its owner decided there wasn't enough money in films and removed the screen and projection. It was put back this year for another go!

    A lot of the original plasterwork exists, the barrel vaulted ceiling, circle front and proscenium being the main ones, the balcony has been levelled off and now provides a bar area. The main stage lighting was in the process of being set up for an evening performance by mark radcliffe and the family mahone!

    Some history from the Picturedromes Website:

    "Originally, the Picturedrome was known as the Holme Valley Theatre and was opened on Easter Monday, March 1st 1913. Amazingly, the original plan of the theatre (which was actually designed as a cinema) seated 1040 people; 240 in the balcony and 800 downstairs. The old projector box was actually positioned outside the cinema, while electricity for lighting was generated by a gas engine installed in an outbuilding. Most probably the projectors were cranked by hand.

    The first films to be shown in the Valley Theatre were: 'A Court Intrigue', 'That Awful Pipe' and 'Betrayed by a Kiss'. The musical accompaniment was provided by a trio of musicians. However, In 1927 the musicians were replaced with a recorded music device called a panatrope. This was basically a record player with twin turntables.

    November 22, presented its audience with a large variety of live acts including musicians, actors and even a stage appearance of a strong man billed as Yorkshire's Hercules. The first sound feature was the popular 'Sunnyside Up', which opened on 13/10/1930. The same year, the auditorium had been redecorated and recarpeted, and a new screen was installed with electrically operated curtains, while dimmers had been fitted to the lights. The projection system was greatly improved as was the sound system.

    Over the years

    In 1957 children's Saturday matinees were discontinued at the time of an extensive influenza outbreak in the Autumn but were not resumed. Over the years seating capacity had gradually been reduced and by 1952 there were only 779. In March 1963 to celebrate the cinema's Golden Jubilee, there were a series of 'Carry On' films with a group of musicians on stage throughout the week.

    In Autumn 1965 children's Saturday matinees were reintroduced and continued until May 1966. However, with dwindling audiences, it was no surprise when The Valley Theatre closed on Saturday 16th September 1967 with 'The Family Way' starring John Mills and his daughter Haley.

    Still owned by the Valley Picture Theatre Company, it was leased to Bradford Amusement Caterers and reopened as a bingo hall on Wednesday, December 20th 1967. Bingo kept the flag flying for some 26 years but then the theatre was unused. Plans to reopen the it as a cinema came to nothing.

    The Cinema Re-opens!

    Towards the end of 1997 it was purchased by by Andrew Bottomly and eventually leased to Peter Carr (eventually buying it), who refurbished the fabric of the building and equipment. The ground floor was utilised as a cinema capable of staging live performances and there was a gala reopening on Thursday, 26th November 1998. There was a new name for the cinema, which was actually an old name as Holmfirth's first cinema in Dunford Road - The Picturedrome."

    Firstly, on the upper circle bar, the Travelling Bilberries (a local band were performing):

    Stage lighting getting rigged for the evening:

    Original projector windows can be seen at the back of the circle, although its now projected by the mirrors:

    Circle front:

    Plasterwork closeup:

    Proscenium arch:

    Burmantofts art nouveau tiles on the stairs:



    Last edited by boxfrenzy; 08-08-2009 at 09:01 PM.
    Saviour of the sporran

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