A new life for Castleford’s Picture House?

TRANSFORMATION PLAN: The Picture House was damaged by fire last year.
TRANSFORMATION PLAN: The Picture House was damaged by fire last year.
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A former theatre which has sat burnt and blackened since a fire last year is to be transformed into a new venue for the community.

The former Castleford Picture House was purchased at auction in October. And new owner property developer Am Karvani plans to restore it, with a £1m investment.

He hopes to transform the upstairs of the building into a gym, and get a fitness brand on board to occupy it, while downstairs his vision includes creating an Italian restaurant and cocktail bar. #

Mr Karvani said: “At the moment if you look at Castleford it is a bit of a ghost town, especially on an evening if people want to go out and socialise.

“There’s a limited number of places available to them without travelling to Leeds or Wakefield. I think that this has huge potential to bring the area back to life.

“Hopefully it will be a catalyst for other companies to come in and invest here too.”

The Picture House, which opened in 1921, was a luxury cinema and theatre, for more than four decades.

Crowds lined the street outside it when The Princess Royal - Princess Mary - visited Castleford in 1955, for the Charter Day ceremony, making the area officially a borough.

The cinema, which seated up to 1,200 people and also had a ballroom and stage facilities, was decorated with flowers and bunting for the occasion.

Following its closure in 1964, the Picture House building was run as a restaurant, bingo hall, cafe bar, pub and nightclub.

But a blaze last January left much of its exterior, furniture and fittings gutted.

Ideas for the site are in there early stages - and Mr Karvani said he hopes to work with Wakefield Council to put forward a planning application.