The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Odeon Cinema, photo © Halliday Clark Architects

100 Buildings 100 Years

1930: Odeon, Bradford

Status: Unlisted
Condition: Poor/damaged condition
Type: Entertainment
Architect: William Illingworth
Owners: Bradford Council
Location: Godwin Street, Bradford, Yorkshire

Bradford was a hair’s breadth away from losing its 84-year-old Odeon building. Even though it now stands as an empty and increasingly scruffy bookend to the popular City Park, Bradfordians have always had a soft spot for the twin-domed, red brick former cinema and ballroom.

The city centre landmark was earmarked for demolition only a few years ago to make way for a largely unwanted office scheme. Fortunately, as the downturn bit, its unwelcome replacement became financially unviable and was eventually scrapped in late 2012. The ex-cinema eventually transferred to the council for just £1 and bidders are now vying to bring it back to life.

Designed by William Illingworth, the chunky Italian Renaissance-style building was the first cinema in Britain to be purpose-built for ‘talkies’ and, although it was bashed about internally before closing in 2000, it has proved remarkably resilient. Urban explorers have discovered that some of its original Art Deco features and ceilings remain intact – albeit hidden.

Bradford is a city of domes and the Odeon’s copper-topped cupolas are still among its most loved.

by Richard Waite

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