A VENUE WITH
A POWERFUL HISTORY
History of the building
On 22nd September 1930, the New Victoria opened in the heart of Bradford. It was the largest ‘picture palace’ ever built in England outside of greater London, comprising a huge main auditorium, ballroom, restaurant, and multiple lounges. In 1950, it changed its name to the Gaumont, and under that guise hosted the great names of the early Rock ‘n’ Roll years: Bill Haley, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles.
Then, for three decades after 1969, the building became an Odeon film centre and Top Rank Bingo club, before finally closing its doors in 2000. Faced with demolition, a grass-roots campaign group fought successfully to save the building.
In 2012, Bradford Live took up the challenge, with a brief to find a long-term viable use for this Bradford icon. That ambition was fulfilled in 2017, when Bradford Live secured the NEC Group as the venue’s future operator.
Bradford Live were selected by DCMS to receive a £4m share of the Government’s Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund, as part of the of BMDC bid for the former Odeon. The Bradford Live redevelopment project was also granted £2,000,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
As part of this funding, Bradford Live committed to a programme of activity to share the history and heritage of the building with the public. This included:
- A Time Lapse record of the old cinema strip out, here.
- A four-month long professionally curated Photography Exhibition – digital records and details of all activities can be found here
- Publication of a book detailing the chronological history of the building between 1930 and 2000 – available at Waterstones Bradford or in person and online at Impressions Gallery.
- A series of historical podcasts which can be watched below.
The venue is set to open in Autumn 2024.