IT was a dramatic night at Low Moor’s Pelican Bingo Club when two men, one wearing a stocking mask and armed with a knife, attacked the manager late in the evening of March 26, 1975.

The robbers bound their victim hand and foot with a cord and got away with £400 in cash. But, as the Telegraph & Argus reported the following day, they left one vital item behind.

“As they left they dropped a set of keys which included one to activate the burglar alarm system,” reported the T&A.

“The manager, Mr Francis Lyons, managed to get this key in his mouth, crawl to an alarm point and, turning the key with his teeth, set off the alarm.”

Mr Lyons was attacked as he was locking up the bingo hall in Huddersfield Road, Low Moor. Other members of the club had left only minutes beforehand. He was hit on the face and head and pushed inside, threatened with the knife and forced to hand over the safe keys. The men took £375 from the safe and £25 from My Lyons’ wallet before tying him up.

“The alarm, which Mr Lyons set off, is linked to the police station and police were soon on the spot to release him. He was not seriously hurt,” said the T&A report.

The Pelican Bingo Club had started out as the Brotherhood Mission Hall and was later converted into a 538-seat cinema.

The Low Moor Picture House was opened in September 1914, showing silent films, accompanied by a pianist in the cinema, and reports of the First World War.

The original proprietors were JB Simpson and John Lush, who was also the manager. Mr Lush later became the sole proprietor of the cinema before his sons, Austin and George, took over.

Although the building is on Huddersfield Road in Low Moor, its main cinema entrance was on Bolton Street.

Local history website, featuring research by Colin Sutton, reveals that Norman Littlewood, a former projectionist at the picture house, used to wind the proscenium curtains by hand at the start and end of each screening:

“His cue to open the curtains was a small spot of light projected onto the drapes as the film was started.”

Local competition arrived in 1926 with the opening of the Wyke Hippodrome in nearby Wyke village.

Although seating was reduced to 490, the Low Moor cinema continued successfully through the Second World War and into the 1950s. But, as Mr Sutton, reported, it later “joined many others with falling attendances and competition from TV (albeit only two channels) and closed on Saturday, June 15, 1957 with the special Whitsuntide attraction; 1942 film Reap the Wild Wind starring John Wayne, Ray Milland and Paulette Goddard.

After a period of disuse the building re-opened in 1964 as the Pelican Bingo Club, a popular venue for many until its closure in 1983.

Today the building is home to Orrell-Turner Interiors, manufacturing bedrooms and kitchens, and its address, ‘The Old Picture House’ is a nod to the history of the property.