Wetherby's Cinema

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Wetherby's Cinema

Wetherby's Cinema officially the Wetherby Film Theatre, formerly the Rodney Bingo Hall, Rodney Cinema and the Raby Picture House is a cinema in Wetherby, West Yorkshire, England, originally opened in April 1915.

History[edit]

In 1865 the site on Caxton Street, then cottages was acquired by a consortium headed by local entrepreneur Henry Crossley for £2000. In 1914 his son, George started work redeveloping the residential site as a cinema, it being completed in 1915. Crossley that year sold the cinema to Raby Picture House Ltd, a Leeds based cinema operating company.[1][2] At the time the cinema had a capacity of 260, this has now been reduced to 136.[3]

At the time of construction Wetherby lacked mains electricity and so the cinema was powered by a 400 volt gas-powered generator. This and the inflammable nature of the nitrate film used in the early days, meant that the projection room required steel shutters to contain any potential fire. These remain today.

The cinema was named the Raby Picture House (sited opposite Raby Park), however the year it was opened it was requisitioned for the billeting of soldiers going to war. [4]

In 1944, Raby Picture Houses was acquired by Harrogate based Star Cinemas who renamed the cinema the Rodney Cinema after one of the directors sons. Popular local rumour that the cinema was named after HMS Rodney are incorrect.[5] In October 1955, Peter Osborn became the manager of the Rodney Cinema and ‘Uncle Peter’ ran the successful matinee club for children on Saturday afternoons and also doubled up as a bingo caller! The matinee club also had a mascot in the form of Roddy, a former stray dog. Peter stayed at the cinema until October 1963.

In 1964 the cinema closed (at the time the increasing popularity of television meant many cinemas were seeing the same fate). Wetherby Rural District Council considered acquiring and operating the cinema but after surveying the building decided against it.[6]

In 1965 the building found a new use, opening as the Rodney Bingo and Social Club after the premises were acquired by Harecroft Estates Ltd. The bingo hall continued to operate until closing in 1993.[7]

The building reopened as a cinema in 1994 after being acquired by local businessman and broadcaster Bob Preedy, now being known as Wetherby Film Theatre.

The business was acquired by local residents Ray and Irene Trewhitt in 2007 and the building has subsequently undergone considerable refurbishment, losing its distinctive chimneys sat along its apex.[8] Internally there has been a continuous programme of modernisation, with the box office being relocated to the opposite side of the lobby, with a larger selection of confectionery. A licensed bar was added in 2012 within the auditorium. The projection system has been upgraded to digital (although a reel-to-reel projector still remains to enable the cinema to show older films). The sound system has been upgraded to Dolby 7.1 in 2014. A Wurlitzer organ has been installed in front of the screen.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Lights, Camera Action! Wetherby Film Theatre". LS22. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  2. ^ "Lights, Camera Action! Wetherby Film Theatre". LS22. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  3. ^ "Wetherby Film Theatre". Visit Leeds. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  4. ^ "Lights, Camera Action! Wetherby Film Theatre". LS22. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  5. ^ "Lights, Camera Action! Wetherby Film Theatre". LS22. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  6. ^ "Lights, Camera Action! Wetherby Film Theatre". LS22. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "Lights, Camera Action! Wetherby Film Theatre". LS22. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  8. ^ "Wetherby Film Theatre". Flickr. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°55′48″N 1°23′25″W / 53.929947°N 1.390278°W / 53.929947; -1.390278