A BOOK documenting the history of Bradford’s iconic Odeon building has been published.

Writer Mark Nicholson, who has a long history with the 1930s structure, has carried out research, interviews and sourced dozens of pictures for the book, The People’s Palace: The Story of the New Vic.

Among photos supplied by former staff members of the New Victoria, Gaumont and then latterly the Odeon, there are a number of photographs taken from the Telegraph & Argus’s own archives.

Mark details how the book itself was mainly written by 2017, but it was down to Bradford Live’s restoration of the building, and grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, that has finally enabled the 360-page book to be published.

Mark told the T&A that he was asked to write an article in 2008 about the former Odeon building for Picture House, the annual publication of the Cinema Theatre Association.

“The building was still very much in the shadow of the threat of demolition and, as a member of the Bradford Odeon Rescue Group, my article was intended to present a historical argument against the case for demolition.”

Afterwards he had lots more that didn’t make it into the article so a book was the next step.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Front cover of new book on history of Bradford's former Odeon buildingFront cover of new book on history of Bradford's former Odeon building (Image: Mark Nicholson)

“I went to one of Derek Lister's book signings in late 2008. He was known to local teenagers of the 1960s as Dal Stevens, the DJ of the Gaumont ballroom. I presented him with a copy of Picture House with my article in. I told him I had lots of research material left unpublished and suggested I might one day include it in a book. He told me there and then that I had to do it.”

His research led him to the Local Studies section of Central Library, looking through old copies of the T&A.

Later he interviewed a number of former employees, including projectionists, cinema staff, management and a resident organist, as well as Mr Lister, plus Norman Littlewood, the chairman of BORG.

Some had their own archives of photographs, which they offered up to be used in the book. These anecdotes led to more research, pinpointing dates through T&A articles.

“It's been a colossal labour of love, but I just wanted to tell the story of a much-loved cinema building. My involvement with both BORG and Bradford Live has given my life so many privileged experiences I never would have had otherwise, and offered more opportunities I ever could have hoped for.”

The book is currently available for a £10 donation from the Impressions Gallery in Bradford city centre, with proceeds being donated to Bradford’s Cinderella Club, which benefits underprivileged children.

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