Blue plaque honour for oldest cinema in Leeds

Cottage Road Cinema in Headingley.
Cottage Road Cinema in Headingley.
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Leeds-born drama writer Kay Mellor is set to unveil a blue plaque to mark the 100th birthday of the oldest cinema in Leeds.

Cottage Road Cinema in Headingley will celebrate the milestone on Sunday, July 29.

Kay, who wrote dramas including Fat Friends and The Syndicate, will unveil the plaque – sponsored by the Far Headingley Village Society – at 2.30pm.

The event will also include a special tribute by local poet Linda Marshall, called Havoc In Far Headingley, with a screening of 1956 film The Smallest Show on Earth at 4pm.

Cinema proprietor Charles Morris said: “It really is an achievement for the cinema and the area which supports it.

“It must be almost unequalled in that it has continued to show films from the day it first opened in 1912. Other cinemas have closed down and reopened but we have always been here.”

As part of the celebrations, Cottage Road will screen a series of classic films, culminating in a silent film show with live music in conjunction with the Leeds International Film Festival.

One of the screenings ahead of November’s festival will be Singing In The Rain, introduced by Leeds-born MP Sir Gerald Kaufman.

Cottage Road Cinema was originally known as the Headingley Picture House and began life in 1835, when it provided stables for a mansion called Castle Grove.

During the early 20th century, Owen Brooks took over the stables for use as a motor garage and motorcycle assembly shop.

Then in 1912, Mr Brooks and business partner Reginald Smith converted the building into the Headingley Picture House.

Frank T Thompson bought the cinema in 1937, but after only a year sold out to Associated Tower Cinemas, who changed the name to Cottage Road Cinema.

Both Cottage Road and nearby cinema, The Lounge in Hyde Park, continued to operate until January 2005, when The Lounge cinema closed – and Cottage Road almost suffered the same fate.

But in a last minute deal, the cinema was taken over by Charles Morris and became part of the Northern Morris group.

Mr Morris added: “The 100th anniversary is very exciting.

“Being the proprietor is a big responsibility – when a cinema is that old, you can’t let it out of your grasp. You have to keep it going.”