Glen Royal Cinema – Shipley

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The Glen Royal Cinema – Shipley

Beginning life as the Shipley Picture House Company it later became the Glenroyal Cinema Company. The building sited adjacent to the Leeds-Liverpool Canal was designed by the Manchester architect Ernest Dawson.  The foundation stone was laid in March 1932 by Councillor Clifford Cawthorne, the retiring chairman of Shipley Urban District Council and a director of the new cinema company.  The opening ceremony on Monday, 5 September 1932, was by Councillor Gordon Waddilove JP, the incoming chairman of Shipley Urban District Council, followed by the film Emma starring Marie Dresler, Richard Cromwell and Myrna Loy, plus ‘a laughable comedy’ together with a live jazz band performance and a soloist.  For 60 years or more the Glenroyal building was an important functioning feature of central Shipley.  “The cinema when built was a building of singularly beautiful design yet eminently practical… The front elevation was of Rustic Brick and Cream Terra Cotta faience tiling which was illuminated with floodlights.  The entrance hall had gold plastic walls and a mother-of-pearl dome ceiling; magnificent Spanish mahogany doors which gave a hint of the beauty to follow within. 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.  The illuminated red-and-black Buddha statue on the staircase was bought at an auction by [the owner] 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, 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’. As this was 1932 and ‘talkies’ were now well-established, the Glenroyal was fitted with the American-designed Western Electric Sound System. The decision to install this system followed a lengthy investigation in which the directors visited more than 60 cinemas to hear various makes of talkie apparatus under working conditions before making their final 1953 a ‘new wide dimension screen’ was installed and the seating capacity reduced slightly by removing some front-row seats due to the large screen size. Certainly this was the very first installation of the new generation of wide curved screens in the Bradford/Shipley area and probably in Yorkshire. “The Glenroyal was the first cinema in the area (after the Ritz in Bradford) to show 3-Dimensional films – the latest craze from the USA with images appearing to jump out at you. The Glenroyal closed as a cinema on 8 December 1962. Since then it has been converted into firstly a casino and then a bingo hall.  Information gathered from the memoirs of the late Colin Sutton, Bradford cinema historian.