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Halifax Cinemas

View of the ABC cinema

One of the earliest cinemas in Halifax was the Picturedrome on Queens Road, which opened in 1912 and was later renamed the Kingston and then the Lyric. This closed in 1951.

The Electric Cinema was set up in a building previously used as a riding school and opened in 1910. After conversion, first from silent films to 'talkies' and then to colour, it carried on for many years, ending its life in 1956.

The Picture House, in the centre of Halifax, opened in 1913 as one of the first purpose built cinemas, beginning with silent films and gradually moving on to sound in 1929, and then to colour to keep pace with developments. In 1948 the name was changed to the Gaumont Cinema, and to the Astra in 1973. In 1982 it closed down and a nightclub, the Coliseum, replaced it.

The Theatre Royal, originally built in 1790 and rebuilt in 1905, became a cinema in 1933 and after a fire in 1937 was rebuilt as a super cinema remaining in use until 1966 when it changed to a bingo hall, and then to a nightclub, La Mania.

The Grand Theatre opened in 1889 and showed films from 1925-40, afterwards reverting to repertory. The theatre closed in 1956 after the ceiling became unsafe.

The Victoria Hall was built in 1901 and Premier Pictures, probably the first cinema in Halifax, opened there in 1903. Talking pictures were introduced in 1931 and the name changed to the Victoria Hall Cinema. It was used as a cinema until 1953.

The year 1938 saw the opening of two modern, purpose-built cinemas in Halifax, the Odeon, in Broad Street, and the Regal, at Ward's End. These luxurious new buildings became the two foremost cinemas in the town and were very popular until the widespread use of videos brought about their demise. The Odeon became a bingo hall in 1975 and the Regal changed its name several times, to the ABC (with three cinemas) in 1961 and the Canon in 1986, before finally closing its doors to be converted into a nightclub.

The Oddfellows' Hall, which opened in 1840 and witnessed appearances by such notabilities as Charles Dickens, became the Alhambra Cinema in 1917, and carried on until 1959.

Two small cinemas which had their day in the town centre were the Gem, in the Marlborough Hall (The Mechanics Institute), which operated from 1917 to 1932, and the Theatre de Luxe, later the Roxy de Luxe, which stood on Northgate until its closure in 1938.

In the outer districts of Halifax were a number of small cinemas, including the Palladium, 1914-62, the Cosy (closed 1964), the Pioneer (later the Ritz), which closed in 1963 after a fire and Ideal Pictures on Raglan Street, which closed as early as 1917. Elland, Sowerby Bridge, Hebden Bridge, Brighouse and Todmorden each had its cinema which proved a popular source of entertainment for the relatively brief life-span of the cinema; some of these are still in existence.

Halifax Zoo, at Exley, had an Electric Theatre from c. 1912-16 which showed panoramic views but can scarcely be classified as a cinema in the true sense.

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