A former cinema which was destroyed in a blaze is due to be demolished over the weekend.
At the height of the inferno in Shipley, 60 firefighters were tackling the flames which led to the collapse of the floors in the 1930s building which used to be the Glen Royal cinema.
Firefighters were on stand-by yesterday as Bradford Council officers and demolition workers ensured the building was safe enough for contractors to move in. The demolition work had been due to start yesterday but was delayed.
Bingley Fire Station Commander Andy Clayton said the building was full of flammable items such as old furniture and film reels.
But he said the fire could have been much worse had it not been for the quick response of the public and firefighters.
“The building has three floors and we were concerned about it, but thanks to the public ringing in early we were able to get there early and do a good stop,” he said.
Mr Clayton said the fire was under control within two hours, but firefighters stayed to damp down and he left at about 3am yesterday.
He said the cause of the fire was being investigated by the fire service and police.
“Buildings which have been shut up for about ten years don’t just catch fire by themselves,” he said.
About 300 people gathered to watch fire crews tackle the blaze, including the owner of neighbouring dance school DM Academy.
Deana Morgan said she had been told she may not be able to access the building until tomorrow.
“The fire started at about 8pm, the time our classes were finishing so we were able to vacate the building,” said Mrs Morgan. “It’s a shame that it’s gone, but the fact it was deteriorating means that now maybe something will have to be done with it. It may galvanise a new project.”
She has managed to hire space at Victoria Hall, in Victoria Road, Saltaire instead and pupils are advised to go there for their class and look at the school’s website for updates.
Built as a sparkling showpiece at a cost of £25,000 in 1932, the blaze at the former Glen Royal cinema has prompted fond memories of a lost age.
Life-long film buff Frank Senior went there every Saturday as a boy starting 86 years ago.
Sitting in his immaculate home near Bingley Road, Mr Senior 94, said: “I’ve lost a good friend – every time I went past the Glen Royal it took me back to my cinema-going days.
“I’d go to the Saturday morning matinees as a boy and then three or four times a week when I was a young man studying at Shipley Technical College.”
Shipley resident Allan Foster is a projectionist at the National Media Museum and chief projectionist at the Hyde Park Cinema, Leeds, and stood watching yesterday as a crane began initial work ahead of the Glen Royal’s demolition.
“It’s a real tragedy – the end of an era,” said Mr Foster, 68, of Rosebery Avenue. “I used to go there when it was a bingo hall in order to look after the organ which was still in place.
“After it closed I know it suffered lot of vandalism and any valuable fittings were stolen, but it was still an important building.”
Bingo brought new life to the Glen Royal after it closed as a cinema and Shipley indoor market trader Sharon Thompkins recalled how that was a major part of life for the women in her family.
“My mother and grandma went, all my aunties went – bingo at the Glen Royal was one of those family things where everyone got together.”
In 2007, there were plans to replace the building with a £7 million housing development, but the project was scrapped. In 2009 there was a suspected arson attack there.