Bradford Odeon

One of the largest ciné-variety theatres of its day, boasting a ballroom, restaurant and 3,000+ seat auditorium with many restorable original features.

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Address
Prince’s Way, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD1 2BS
Risk Rating
5 (risk rating: 2, star rating: 1, community rating: 2)
Local Group
Bradford Live
Architect
William Illingworth
Date of Construction
1930
Listing
Not listed
Capacity
3,500

Significance

Opened as the New Victoria in 1930, this was the largest ciné-variety theatre outside of London and the third largest in England. It also housed a grand ballroom, restaurant and tea room. Many of the original features are currently concealed behind a late 60’s fit-out which saw the building converted to cinema and bingo use, but are restorable. The building contributes materially to the Bradford townscape, makes a good neighbour for the Alhambra Theatre and would help to regenerate this area as a cultural quarter for Bradford.

Why is this theatre at risk?

The Odeon Cinema closed in 2000 and other than urgent repairs has not been properly maintained. It has been the subject of various applications for demolition, all vehemently opposed by Theatres Trust. Despite approval for demolition being granted in 2009, works were not commenced. In 2014, following an Expressions of Interest competition Bradford Live was awarded the right to re-develop the building. Bradford Live has been working with the local authority and other potential investors to reopen the venue since this time. Essential repair works to secure the building fabric and ensure that the building is weathertight were completed last year. However this is a large building and the cost of restoration is significant.

Current situation

In 2016 Bradford Live announced that it had been awarded Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) funding for enabling works to the building which would enable the strip out of the late 60’s cinema structure and allow the enormity of the original 1930 auditorium to be fully revealed. Funding was dependent on securing an operator for the building and in September 2017 Bradford Live announced Birmingham’s NEC Group as their operating partner. The NEC Group will take on a 30-year lease on the building and invest £2 million towards the restoration costs. Further good news was received in December 2017, when the Council Executive agreed ‘in principle’ to provide a £12 million loan to Bradford Live towards the anticipated £20 million restoration costs. The LEP Board also announced the Odeon as its preferred project to receive a share of up to £4m from the Government’s Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund. This positive funding news provides a much firmer foundation for the building’s restoration. Works are due to commence in spring 2018 and it is hoped that the building will be opened in 2020.

Update September 2018 

On 28 May 2018 Bradford Odeon were featured on the BBC ONE Show.

In July, after an OJEU tender process, it was announced that Aedas has been appointed as architects to take the project from RIBA Stage 3 (Developed Design) onwards. Aedas replace Tim Ronalds Architects who worked on the concept designs for the theatre.

In September the scaffolding that has hidden the building since 2012 was struck in preparation for the main building works. It is hoped that the works will start on site in November.

Campaign video (from 2016)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUUwQFW2BJ0

Image: Bradford Odeon, Ian Grundy