Upperthorpe Picture Palace
Cross Addey Street and Springvale Road,
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Previous Names: Imperial Hall, Upperthorpe Hall
Situated in the Upperthorpe district of Sheffield, this building had been known as St. John’s Hall when used by the Salvation Army.
Leonard Shaw was involved as proprietor and hall manager, and he appears to have organised its trial run as a cinema from 5th April 1909, when it operated as the Imperial Hall. However, there was no electricity supply, so projection depended on the use of acetylene, or similar, and it immediately became clear that extensive alterations would be required, not least to satisfy the Licensing Justices.
So the Imperial Hall closed after only four weeks. Alterations were carried out and the building re-opened, now as Upperthorpe Hall, on 2nd December 1909. It is unclear when Leonard Shaw’s involvement ended, but by now a Mr E. Ridings appears to have been the ‘prime mover’.
The cinema was re-named Upperthorpe Picture Palace from May 1910. This ‘new’ cinema’s first manager was William Riley; he was followed by Harry Bramwell, who subsequently moved across to the nearby Unity Picture Palace when it opened in November 1913 (see separate Cinema Treasures entry).
Alterations in 1912 included the provision of new waiting rooms, improvements to the toilets, a complete redecoration and an enhancement in the appearance of the screen with the addition of a deep black border. Seating appears to have been increased to 650, from the original 500.
The Hall closed for a week in 1913, then for several weeks in 1914, for further repairs, alterations and redecoration. However, it seems that, for whatever reason, it just could not succeed, and the Upperthorpe Picture Palace closed as early as 1915.
The building was used as a warehouse, and eventually demolished around 1970. (It had been situated close to the junction of Cross Addey Street and Springvale Road, but that location appears to have been lost in redevelopment.)
(Principal research by the late Clifford H. Shaw.)
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