Russell Street Picture House

5 Russell Street,
Keighley, BD21 2JU

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Additional Info

Functions: Housing

Previous Names: Picture Palace, Premier Picture Palace

Nearby Theaters

Russell Street in January 2022

The Picture Palace opened on 26th December 1909 in a purpose built 500-seat brick building near the corner of Russell Street and Chapel Lane. The Bioscope of 30th December 1909 attributed the project to The American Bioscope (Mr Walter H. Palliser)’.

From around 1913 to January 1915 it traded as the Premier Picture Palace, then from February as the Russell Street Picture House. It was later acquired by the operator of the Cosy Corner Picture House on Low Street. It was leased to new owners in 1922, who were unable to turn a profit. They returned the lease, but the venue closed around May 1924 due to infringement of licensing conditions.

By 2018 the building was used for housing.

Contributed by Hector Hill

Recent comments (view all 1 comments)

HJHill on January 21, 2022 at 9:08 pm


See “Photos” for the correct building which housed this cinema. The story is complex.

There is confusion about the opening day. The cinema opened on Boxing Day 1909. Christmas Day was on Saturday. The next day was Sunday, so Boxing Day was Monday 27 December 1909. Theatres and the like did not open on Sundays.

The Bioscope 11 August 1910, in an item about the near-completed ‘New Picture Palace’ on Cavendish Street, which opened on 10 December 1910, reported that the Russell Street cinema ‘was intended originally for a warehouse’. However, The Bioscope of 30 December 1909 had reported ‘the building is an entirely new one built specially for a picture hall’. If the latter is correct, the Picture Palace on Russell Street would claim to be Keighley’s first purpose-built cinema.

A personal advert for engagements placed in The Stage in November 1912 by (with apologies) Eric Cunliffe ‘A Coloured Ragtime King and C**n comedian’ appearing at ‘The Premier Picture Palace, Russell St, Keighley’ indicates that live entertainment was on the cinema’s programme. There are also newspaper notices of public meetings being held there, though the operator reneged on a Sunday afternoon booking by the Independent Labour Party in February 1916.

The ‘lessees’ in ‘1922’ (that information from Mercia Cinema Society’s Cinemas of Keighley & the Aire Valley) were Richard Ramsbottom and Arthur Lewis from Haslingden in Lancashire. Their established line of work was fish-mongering and fish & chips. They were the Russell-Street Cinema Co (not limited), created in March 1923. In April 1924 they were fined for infringing the Cinematograph Act. An exit was blocked with a couch and chairs, film was left exposed in the projection room where doors were jammed open, and people using an adjacent ‘dressing room’ were smoking. (This may sound odd, but a licence hearing in 1924 heard that live acts had one dressing room next to the projection room. The acts had to make their way through the audience to the front.) As a result of the April 1924 prosecution, the West Riding County Council refused to renew the cinema’s licence. The pair’s business failure bankrupted them. Their hearing on 6 August 1924 heard they had paid £900 for the cinema in May 1923, but were total novices and had not examined the books. Weekly takings averaged £25; and outgoings £35 to £40. The cinema was put up for auction in early April 1924, but was withdrawn when bidding stalled at £200.

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