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Enthusiasts given access to cinema to salvage historic paraphernalia
Precious documents recording the history of a former grand city building have been salvaged by the Bradford Odeon Rescue Group (Borg).
Members were allowed into the Odeon on Wednesday after hearing that it was to be emptied.
Borg secretary Mark Nicholson, who approached owners Bradford Council for access, said: “When I was informed that parts of the Odeon’s interior were going to be stripped out and disposed of, I immediately thought of the many precious documents that had been left in offices when the cinema closed.
“The thought of potentially historically important documents being ‘skipped’ without a second thought horrified me.”
Mr Nicholson, who describes himself as a fervent Odeon archivist, was allowed to take two people on his hunt for Odeon paraphernalia.
“I invited Matt Shaw from Borg and Vicky Leith,” he said.
“Vicky has played an enormous role in several past Borg efforts and events.”
Borg joined a member of Bradford Council’s Regeneration Department and the project manager overseeing stripping out works this summer. They toured the building, including many areas that had previously not been accessible, such as all three projection rooms, the restaurant ceiling void and the upper balcony lounge.
Mr Nicholson said they found a “treasure trove” of information dating back to the 1950s.
“The documents and letters we found are amazing, some even invaluable.
“I found a postcard from the 1960s that had been sent to the Gaumont’s general manager from the Wurtlitzer company stating the date they were coming to service the organ,” he said.
“There are also weekly film schedules and cinema attendance information from the last few years of the Odeon’s operational life, so this information encompasses several decades.”
Vicky Leith said: “The experience of simply being in there again was wonderful. Some of the areas look a little rough but the amazing thing is you can see glimpses of the theatre’s original architecture and past hidden away in the voids.
“The restaurant ceiling was awesome to see. I didn’t think it was spooky or anything in there either. All I could see was a beautiful building with loads of potential.”
Mr Shaw added: “The layout of the building made more sense to me on this visit, but the amount of rooms and backstage areas is still unbelievable.”
Mr Nicholson said: “I am personally very impressed by the Council’s respect for the Odeon and its history. These documents are now in very safe hands.”
He intends to include information from the finds in a book about the Odeon.
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