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At the back: second left is Shack Hyde; third left Harry Chippindale; sixth left Mrs Edith Hyde.
Extreme right John Woodhead (director); fourth from right at back Ernest Dawson (architect).
The building was designed by the Manchester architect Ernest Dawson, LRIBA, FSI, AMSA, originally from nearby Windhill who also designed and owned the Western Cinema in Park Road, Bradford.
What wasn't obvious from the road is that there is a large roomy cellar under the cinema almost down to the level of the Leeds-Liverpool canal which runs at the rear of the building. This extra space provides for storage and the heating boiler. The second floor above the balcony accommodated the spacious projection room, rewind room and stores - quite different to the small cramped conditions of some of the older cinemas.
Art Deco Interior
The wide central stairway lead directly to the balcony foyer magnificently carpeted with thick Wilton carpet specially woven by Firth's of Brighouse for the Glenroyal and having been supplied and fitted by Alfred Linley & Sons of Windhill. For three decades patrons will have been puzzled by the illuminated red and black Buddha statue on the staircase. I can now reveal the Buddha was bought at an auction by Shack Hyde who found it attractive and adopted it as a mascot. It seems that more Buddhas appeared at other cinemas in his expanding circuit - some were on public display and others were in offices.
From the Balcony (or Circle if you prefer) which seated 350 one realised the immensity and beauty of the building and a decorative scheme of green, and gold to "give an impression of space and life which will enable the mind of the patron to relax into a world of pleasurable imagination". Matched by innovative specially designed lighting it would be just too simple to call it art deco. The joint use of open and concealed lighting added considerably to the richness of the decorations. Over four miles of cable and tubing had been used in the lighting installation by Gordon Binns of Shipley. The balcony was of reinforced concrete and steel capable of withstanding 18 tons dead weight placed on its weakest point.
The luxury seats upholstered in Firth's moquette were from Trinity Chair Works of Scarborough. A number of settees to hold two patrons had been installed and "should prove a popular innovation, the additional comfort of these being very marked".
The 30-feet wide proscenium stage accommodating the screen of the (then) latest 4:3 aspect ratio (Academy format) and speakers and was fronted by curtains (drapery) with the latest W.J Furse motorised control and multicoloured lighting by Falk Stadelmann & Co Ltd. A special sound absorbing ceiling was installed and claimed to be the finest in the country which created considerable interest in architectural circles having been designed by the architects and erected by local joiners J. Hobson & Sons of Windhill. The stalls floor has a gradient (rake) of 1 in 12 allowing easy and perfect vision from all parts.
An unusual feature of the auditorium were five large windows facing south and overlooking Briggate each with internal geared shutters which could be opened to allow "the entire building to be flooded with sunlight when the opportunity occurs". This along with the low-pressure hot water type air heating system and powerful extraction fans ensured "the atmosphere of the Glenroyal will always be clean and healthy".
"The foul air of the building is drawn through six ducts, and the incoming air is drawn in and warmed before passing into the general atmosphere".
Western Electric 'wide range' soundboxes were fitted to the latest Kalee (from A. Kershaw & Sons of Leeds) rear shutter projectors fitted with high intensity arcs to ensure a brilliantly illuminated picture. The operating box was, in fact, a suite of rooms for rewind, rectifiers etc. at the rear of the auditorium and high above the balcony and was completely isolated from the rest of the building by a 14-inch thick wall and a separate roof. As the nitrate film material in those days was highly flammable there was always the risk of fire but the Glenroyal design ensured no danger of spreading to the main auditorium.
The opening on Monday 5th September 1932 at 2.30pm was by Councillor Gordon Waddilove, JP, the new incoming Chairman of Shipley Urban District Council followed by the film:
"Emma" - 1932 USA B/W comedy/drama 72 mins.
It was a proud day for Shack Hyde who was also its first manager. The Shipley Times & Express weekly newspaper advertised the Glenroyal as "The Perfect Cinema" which also had the unique "Telephone No 1". Actually that telephone number had been allocated some years earlier to the old Queen's Palace Theatre later to become Shipley Picture House and transferred by Shack Hyde's company to the new Glenroyal when he closed Shipley PH the previous month.
A year later in September 1933 the Glenroyal advertised:
"Our First Birthday - Unique birthday offer . . . each Patron is invited to bring a friend at our expense".
This was long before the 'Two for the Price of One' or 'Buy One Get One Free' selling gimmicks.
It was the American Laurens Hammond who invented the Hammond electronic organ in 1935 and his very first Model A was purchased by Henry Ford of Ford Motors and the second by George Gershwin. Unlike pipe organs in churches and cinemas, the Chicago made Hammond organ was electro-mechanical with harmonic tonebar registration capable of producing millions of sounds and effects. J.R. Lafleur & Son (later to taken over by Boosey & Hawkes) imported a small number of Hammond organs in the period 1935 to the outbreak of war in 1939. The first two imported were purchased by Robin "Organ-grinder" Richmond and a later one by the BBC.
With such distinguished support for the revolutionary Hammond organ, it was very forward thinking of Shack Hyde to appreciate the potential of this new invention and to purchase one for his flagship Glenroyal cinema in 1936. Positioned centrally in front and below the proscenium stage, its white wood cabinet case was emphasised further by the construction of a large white casing in rectangular art-deco design like bookends at either side of the organ console and bathed in coloured light. The whole effect made it appear the organist was playing a very much larger instrument. This same concept was also used by Wurlitzer, Compton and Conacher for their pipe organs in other cinemas.
"A Queen is Crowned" - 1953 UK Colour 79 mins.
The advertisement continued . . .
"Flash! For the first time in Yorkshire this film will be
Certainly this was the very first installation of the new generation of wide curved screens in the Bradford/Shipley area and probably in Yorkshire.
Season of 3-Dimension
"The Sensational 3-Dimensional House of Wax - 1953 USA Warnercolor 3D
This was followed on Sunday 14th March, 1954 with another Warner all action 3-d epic:
"Charge at Feather River" - 1953 USA Warnercolor 95mins 3D
A month later on Sunday 18th April 1954 it was:
"Fort Ti" - 1953 USA Technicolor 73mins 3D
The 3-D novelty soon faded as audiences disliked the special glasses. The films were expensive to show as they required two projectors to be run simultaneously in synchronisation; this used extra carbons for the arcs and required an interval for change of reels.
"Lucky Me" - 1954 USA Warnercolor 100mins.
This was the first musical to be shot in CinemaScope.
Surprisingly, despite being Shipley's No 1 cinema, it was not the first in the town to show CinemaScope films - that honour went to another of Shack Hyde's cinemas, the Prince's Hall which showed "The Robe" two months earlier in November 1954.
The End of Cinema
"The Loudest Whisper" - USA 1961 B/W 107 mins.
The Hammond Lafleur organ was removed and transferred to the nearby Woodend Working Men's Club to be played by the same lady organist Nellie Merrall (known locally as "our Nellie" from Windhill) who had entertained cinemagoers over the years..
The building was now owned by Eckhart's Star Cinemas of Leeds who converted it into the Glen Casino, with manager Vincent Gallagher, for bingo together with "Fast, Exciting, Thrilling legalite Roulette direct from the Continent" opening on Thursday 8th January 1963. Star retained the Glen part of the name though that was later changed to EMI Bingo and Social Club in 1974 and lasted until the premises closed in 1982. A suspended ceiling was put in at front circle level right across to the stage area.
A new owner re-opened the premises this time as Walkers Bingo and in 1990 the freehold building was bought by King's Leisure and it's still in use today as King's Bingo and Social Club. I'm assured by the proprietor that the upstairs Circle area is left untouched and just as it was when the cinema closed - even the seating is still there making it a time capsule of that 1930's art-deco design of cinema. The current owner tells me there is a lady ghost frequently seen and felt (rush of cold air) hurrying towards the front where the screen used to be. Was this ghost a relic transferred from the old Queen's Palace Theatre (Shipley Picture House) building along with other fittings, I wonder?
Glenroyal in Parliament!
"We should therefore decide on the basis of the argument, but the argument has been extremely confusing for someone like me. I always admired the Liberals as men and women of principle - a party of principle - but after admiring them for that for 18 years, it is terrifying to see how cheap they come now. We used to say in the back row of the Glenroyal Cinema in Shipley that some girls were easy and some girls were not. The Liberals are easy: a few crumbs from the table of power, and they will throw away their principles on terrorist legislation, on proportional representation and on open lists. That is cheap."
This might have been a frivolous comment but it is probably the only time that a Shipley (or Bradford) cinema was ever mentioned in the House of Commons and officially recorded in Hansard for posterity. The full report of the debate can be found by clicking here which will lead to the UK Parliamentary website.
Into the 21st Century
With so much of the original features of the Glenroyal still in existence it must surely be possible to restore it to its former glory. Such restoration has been done successfully in other much older cinema halls around Yorkshire. All that is needed is someone with the vision and business acumen of the late Shack Hyde to bring back some character, atmosphere and individuality that is sadly lacking from today's multiplex cinemas.
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