The Forgotten Treasures of Glenroyal Cinema

http://www.flickr.com/photos/phill_dvsn/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

On the outside, the Glenroyal Cinema in northern England looks like a typical abandoned Art Deco picture house.  When it closed in 1962, the venue became a casino and then -predictably – a bingo hall, before finally falling into dereliction.  But this rare behind the scenes tour reveals some hidden treasures of its cinema heyday lurking in the shadows where urban explorers have ventured.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/phill_dvsn/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Located in Shipley, West Yorkshire, the Glenroyal opened on September 5, 1932 with a screening of Emma – the latest American comedy/drama of the day – introduced by a live jazz band.  The cinema, which could seat 1,200 people, featured the latest innovations, including state of the art sound and projection technology.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/phill_dvsn/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

But as time marched on, the Glenroyal steadily became outdated and eventually closed in 1962.  Its doors re-opened the following year as a casino, before ultimately becoming a Kings Bingo venue.  An unflattering false ceiling was installed during this period, which left patrons – and thankfully vandals – with little idea of the grand Art Deco fixtures that remained untouched in the higher reaches of the building.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/phill_dvsn/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

In the gloom beyond the false ceiling, the long-disused upper circle remains frozen in time, virtually untouched since the Glenroyal Cinema’s last screening half a century ago.  The plush “lovers’ seats” (above), upholstered by Trinity Chair Works of Scarborough, have quietly collected dust ever since, while the original paintwork peels from the walls.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/phill_dvsn/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Incredibly, the American Kalee projectors remain extant and intact, while old film reels sit beneath decades of dust.  Could they be the last films ever shown here – “The Loudest Whisper“, starring Audrey Hepburn, Shirley Maclaine and James Garner, and “Gun Street“, starring James Brown, Jean Willes and John Clarke?  And what abandoned cinema tale would be the same without a good ghost story?  Rumours abound of a ghostly woman seen hurrying to the front of the auditorium where the screen once was…

To find out more, check out phill.d’s write-up and pictures of the Glenroyal Cinema.  If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out Detroit’s former Michigan Theater – now a parking garage, and these incredible abandoned theatres and movie palaces.

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  • http://www.decolish.com/ArtDecoCinemas.html Lesley

    Oh, how sad is that. Are there any plans to renovate it? It would be so lovely. Maybe a campaign could be started.

  • http://www.urbanghostsmedia.com Tom

    Hey Lesley, thanks for your comment. It would be fantastic to see Glenroyal renovated, and it certainly has some fantastic features still remaining. Sadly, most of the cinemas that have been boarded-up or turned into bingo halls usually die the death, but this place would definitely be worth saving!

  • HJH

    There was a serious blaze on 17 January 2013; and the building was demolished on 19 January 2013.

    Kalee projectors were not American. They were made in Leeds (not too many miles from this cinema). The brand name is concocted from the reversed initials of the company founder (Abraham Kershaw) and part of the word Leeds. The company later became part of the Gaumont-British organization and traded as GB Kalee.

    (uploaded 20 January 2013)

 
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