“Bringing the Beat Back to Bradford” is a new exhibition looking back on the history of the much-loved iconic Bradford building originally  known as the New Victoria, subsequently The Gaumont, and  Odeon

I first visited the Gaumont in 1953 aged ten. It was Coronation year. At Buttershaw Junior School all the pupils went on the bus to see  film of the Coronation in colour. The auditorium was massive with 3,000 plus in there. I thought it was wonderful.

I was to visit many more times with mum to see the first Cinemascope film and listen to the mighty Wurlitzer organ. Later  as a teenager to see the stage shows starring Cliff Richard, Beatles and the Rolling Stones and many top American stars. Great memories.

In November 2021 I saw an appeal in the Bradford Telegraph and Argus asking for memories and memorabilia for an exhibition https://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/19698015.bradford-live-commissions-project-celebrating-odeon-history/

The exhibition would take place  to

Originally built in 1930, and located in the heart of the city, this magnificent building is currently being restored to its former glory as an entertainment hub for the city. Ahead of its reopening as the music venue Bradford Live, Impressions Gallery  embarked on major project to uncover the many memories that were made within its walls.

Bringing the Beat Back to Bradford shines a light on the building’s vibrant history as a cinema, dance hall, music venue, and bingo hall. The exhibition features stories from the community, artefacts and memorabilia, oral histories, and a mix of official and vernacular photographs.

During the exhibition, we will continue to collect photographs and stories of the building from visitors for display on our memory wall. These will be added to a growing digital archive of images, memorabilia and oral histories.

Bringing the Beat Back to Bradford is part of a programme of heritage activity commissioned by Bradford Live and funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Bradford Live is a not-for-profit distribution company formed in 2012 to find a long term viable use for the historic former Odeon building in Bradford city centre which has been derelict since 2000.

In February 2022 I volunteered to be a project participant in the exhibition. I submitted my collection of rare local newspapers featuring the Beatles visit to the Gaumont. The newspapers were displayed with a frame of the cover page of the T&A Beatles Special Edition. Also Beatles programmes. I  found I was the oldest project participant. I suddenly become the unofficial historian.

The exhibition was an outstanding success.

During my involvement I had the honour of meeting people who like me were passionate about the restoration of the Gaumont/Odeon, many now friends.  In May 2022 I undertook a tour of the building. I noticed several features which I remember although most of the structure was covered with scaffolding which obscured most views. I look forward to the finished building work.

In March 2022 I was involved with a BBC TV Look North feature on the exhibition and progress on the restoration. I took part in a segment regarding the Beatles. See video.

BBC Website feature https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-64748418

I am pleased to say that it has been a pleasure to be involved with the project. It has given me a great feeling of wellbeing and I thank the following most sincerely for one of the most happy parts of my life.  Anne McNeill and her wonderful Impressions Gallery staff. Lee, Kirsten and Chris of Bradford Live. Mark Nicholson of BORG {Bradford Odeon Rescue Group. My fellow project participants.

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