Originally built as a 3,318 seat cine-variety theatre (the largest outside London when built, and the third largest in England), the Odeon/New Victoria occupies most of a large island site. The vast seating capacity was split between stalls, mezzanine circle and balcony. There were twelve dressing rooms, a fully-equipped fly tower and an orchestra pit. Also contained in the building was a ballroom and a restaurant. The spectacular auditorium was dominated by a huge dome and coved rectangular proscenium. A frieze ran around the auditorium below the ceiling and either side of the stage were arches, niches and decorative grilles divided by pilasters. Further arches and panels were to the rear of the auditorium, the balcony fronts featuring putti holding festoons. At the end of 1968 the theatre closed for subdivision into separate cinema screens and bingo. Two large cinemas were created in the circles whilst bingo took over in the stalls. The conversion work effectively obscured (rather than destroyed) most of the decoration in the theatre, and the stage remained intact in the bingo hall. Later a third screen opened in the ballroom. Before subdivision, the stage was regularly used for live shows, popular concerts and broadcasts.
The Odeon closed in July 2000. A scheme for demolition was approved in 2009. However, works were not commenced. In 2014, following an Expressions of Interest competition Bradford Live was awarded the right to re-develop the building. Bradford Live has been working with the local authority and other potential investors to reopen the venue since this time. The interior may yet be restorable but, as important, the Odeon contributes materially to the Bradford townscape, makes a good neighbour for the Alhambra and could form part of a cultural quarter for Bradford. Over £1.3m of remedial work was completed in May 2015 to make the building safe and ready for future redevelopment. In 2016 Bradford Live announced that it had been awarded Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) funding for enabling works to the building which would enable the strip out of the late 60’s cinema structure and allow the enormity of the original 1930 auditorium to be fully revealed. Funding was dependent on securing an operator for the building and in September 2017 Bradford Live announced Birmingham’s NEC Group as their operating partner. The NEC Group will take on a 30-year lease on the building and invest £2 million towards the restoration costs. Further good news was received in December 2017, when the Council Executive agreed ‘in principle’ to provide a £12 million loan to Bradford Live towards the anticipated £20 million restoration costs. The LEP Board also announced the Odeon as its preferred project to receive a share of up to £4m from the Government’s Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund. This positive funding news provides a much firmer foundation for the building’s restoration. Works are due to commence in spring 2018 and it is hoped that the building will be opened in 2020.
- 1930 - 2000: Cine-variety; Cinema
- 1930 Design/Construction:William Illingworth- Architect
- 1930 - 2000 Use: Cine-variety; Cinema
- 1969 Design/Construction:Trevor & Mavis Stone- Consultantinterior decorations
- 1969 Alteration: Subdivided into bingo and two smaller cinemasGavin Peterson & Sons- Architect
- 2003 Owner/Management: Yorkshire Forward
- 2011 Owner/Management: Homes and Communities Agency
- 2013 Owner/Management: Bradford Council
- ListingNot listed