History

A VENUE WITH
A POWERFUL HISTORY

  1.  -
    1930

    New Victoria opens

  2.  -
    1950

    Changes name to Gaumont

  3.  -
    1960

    Global stars such as Roy Orbison, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles play during this decade

  4.  -
    1969

    The Gaumont closes its doors... and changes name to Odeon Film Centre & Top Ranking Bingo Club

  5.  -
    2000

    The Odeon closes its doors

  6.  -
    2002

    A campaign to save the building from demolition is born

  7.  -
    2013

    Bradford Council acquire the building from the Homes and Community Agency

  8.  -
    2017

    The NEC Group and Bradford Live unite forces to restore the venue

  9.  -
    2021

    Development commences

  10.  -
    2024

    The grand opening

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.

Podcast series part 1: The Grand Opening of the New Victoria

In the first of our new series, local historian Mark Nicholson reads an extract from his forthcoming book illustrated by some fascinating press clippings and photos. This extract focuses on the grand opening of the New Victoria, back on 22nd September 1930.

Podcast series part 3: Reintroducing the auditorium

In this, the third of our new series of podcasts, we share what it was like for the Bradford Live team to take on the mammoth task of restoring the building's auditorium, illustrated by some incredible footage of the removal of 1960's steel and concrete.

Podcast series part 5: Fairytale

In this, our 5th podcast, we revisit a magical day in Bradford's history - the UK Premiere of Fairytale: A True Story at the former Odeon on Sunday 8th February 1998.

Podcast series part 7: Did You Know

The 7th in our series of heritage podcasts shares ten lesser known facts about the history of the former Odeon building now known as Bradford Live.

Podcast Series part 9: On The Stage

Bradford Live is delighted to release the 9th in our series of heritage podcasts. Join us as we recall the stars who graced the Gaumont stage between 1953 and 1968.

Podcast Series part 11: Crowning Glory

This, the 11th in the series of podcasts in association with National Lottery Heritage Fund North, revisits the renovation of the domes to the former Odeon cinema in Bradford and the installation of the two new masts in October 2015.

Podcast Series part 13: An Everlasting Monument

As our series of heritage and historical podcasts draws to a close, we are proud to share our 13th and final podcast, "An Everlasting Monument" which depicts the construction of the New Victoria cinema in 1929. With huge thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund North for supporting this series.

Podcast series part 2: The Beatles at The Gaumont

In the second of the series of podcasts, we look back at the 3rd Beatles visit to the Gaumont on the 9th October 1964. In this extract, local historian Mark Nicholson tells us about when the legendary Beatles came to The Gaumont in 1964 - from fainting fans to the lucky locals who got to meet the band and the hysteria that came with having The Beatles in Bradford.

Podcast series part 4: An Enduring Association

In this, the fourth of our new series of podcasts, we look back at a long-standing Christmas association that the former Odeon building had enjoyed with Bradford's Cinderella Club throughout seven decades!

Podcast series part 6: Saturday Morning Pictures

Here is the 6th in our series of heritage podcasts as we take a step down memory lane with a potted history of sixty years of Saturday Morning Pictures for youngsters at Bradford's former New Victoria/Gaumont/Odeon.

Podcast Series part 8: The Cinema and The Beck

The 8th in our series of heritage podcasts tells the story of the former Odeon building's troublesome history with Bradford Beck... With many thanks to Graham Relton of the Yorkshire Film Archive for providing footage of the floods of September 1946.

Podcast Series part 10: We Remember Them

Bradford Live presents our 10th podcast, recalling Bradford's first Armistice Festival of Remembrance hosted by the New Victoria cinema in November 1936

Podcast Series part 12: The Showman

We are delighted to share our 12th podcast where we shine the spotlight on John Philcox, the General Manager of Bradford's Gaumont Theatre between 1957 and 1960. A true Cinema Showman! With thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund.