The Theatres Trust

The Bradford Playhouse

  • Theatre ID
  • Built / Converted
  • Dates of use
    • 1937: Continuing
  • Current state
  • Current use
  • Address
    4 Chapel Street, Little Germany, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD1 5DL, England
  • Website


Founded in 1929 by the writer JB Priestley and his sister Winifred, the Bradford Playhouse Company later moved to Jowett Hall, an 1837 Temperance Hall converted to a cinema in 1910. Jowett Hall was destroyed by fire in 1935. A new theatre was built on the current site in Chapel Street, Little Germany in 1937. Funded by royalties from JB Priestly and renamed the Bradford Civic Playhouse, the building was opened by Barry Jackson as a dual-purpose theatre and cinema. Another fire in 1996 destroyed the stage and damaged the auditorium and foyers. The theatre reopened after restoration with a rebuilt stage and fly tower in 1997 as the Priestley Centre for the Arts. The building is on the side of a steep hill approached by six deep steps from a narrow pavement. The facade is very simple, a little reminiscent of the London Whitehall but with applied metal ornament. There is a small foyer, and spacious bar in the basement. The auditorium is plain, with a balcony of eight rows under a barrel vault ceiling. The balcony front is flat with horizontal ribbed ornament, and end projections. The ceiling slopes down over the stalls towards a rectangular proscenium, flanked by fluted quarter columns without caps or bases. The Studio theatre is a wedge-shaped space with varying capacities dependent on seating arrangements. The building has changed name several times subsequently but is currently enjoying success under a new owner and management team.

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Basement of The Priestley Centre for the Arts, Bradford, 1998
© Ian Grundy

Auditorium of The Priestley Centre for the Arts, Bradford, 1998
© Ian Grundy

Auditorium of The Priestley Centre for the Arts, Bradford, 1998
© Ian Grundy

Auditorium of The Priestley Centre for the Arts, Bradford, 1998
© Ian Grundy

Auditorium of Bradford Playhouse, 1994
© Ian Grundy

Auditorium of Bradford Playhouse, 1994
© Ian Grundy

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  • Other names
    Priestley, Bradford Civic Playhouse, Bradford Playhouse and Film Theatre, Priestley Centre for the Arts, New Bradford Playhouse, Bradford Playhouse, Little Germany Theatre, Bradford Playhouse
  • Events
    • 1937 Use: Continuing
    • 1937 Design/Construction:
      • Eric Morley - Architect
    • 1937 Owner/Management: Civic Playhouse Friendly Society, owners
    • 1997 Alteration: Stage rebuilt; auditorium reinstated after fire
      • David Quick of VJQ Ltd - Architect
      • White Light North - Lighting
    • 2011 Owner/Management: Clough Corporate Solutions, liquidators
    • 2011 Owner/Management: Rob Walters/Be Wonderful Ltd, lessee
    • 2012 Alteration: Refurbishment of studio theatre
    • 2012 Owner/Management: Takeover Events & Theatre Ltd, lessee and management
    • 2014 Owner/Management: Colin Fine, owner
    • 2016 Owner/Management: Purple Stage Theatres, lessee and management
  • Capacities
    • Original: 299; main auditorium
    • Current: 290; main auditorium
    • Current: 70 : 100 standing : 40 raked; studio
  • Listings
    • Grade Not listed
  • Stage type
    • Proscenium flat
  • Dimensions
    • Stage dimensions: Depth: 4.27m Width SL: 5.95m SR: 5.95m
    • Proscenium width: 7.01m
    • Height to grid: 7.31m
    • Orchestra pit: None
  • Unreliable anecdotes
    Bradford Playhouse Company was established 1929, performing in Jowett Hall. Date of present building frequently stated to be 1929 but not true

Of the period

Stage of The Coliseum in Trecynon, Aberdare, 1995
Coliseum (Aberdare)

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Renovation of the Roundhouse, London, from above, c.1967

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