A new initiative to develop a community cinema in Bradford held its first film screening on Saturday 24th October 2015 at the Mechanics Institute in Eccleshill, the former site of the Eccleshill Picture House which was opened in 1911. The team at Bradford City of Film have been working in partnership with staff at Eccleshill to offer advise on film licenses and the loan of film equipment.
1911 was also the year that Bradford cinema pioneer Cecil Wray opened Wray’s Film Agency for hiring out films to other picture halls in the region and this was situated directly opposite the Eccleshill Picture House on Institute Road. Wray was regarded as one of the film pioneers of the era and a very prominent figure on those early days of the film industry in Bradford through his business connection with other entrepreneurs. He also produced his own Kine-Optiscope – a device which enabled short film strips to be shown using an ordinary magic lantern.
Early films at Eccleshill had piano accompaniment and the screen was a white sheet which flapped about in the draught.
Director of Bradford UNESCO City of Film, David Wilson said: ‘We are delighted to be working with the Eccelshill Mechanics Institute on this initiative which gives the local community a chance to enjoy films and socialise in their own locality. The fact that the venue is also linked to Bradford’s rich film heritage is a superb bonus.’’
Anita Bolland, Community Development Worker Ravenscliffe Community Development Project said; ‘we have many regular visitors to the centre and some would find it challenging to visit a large cinema complex because of transport etc. Been able host film events in the community will be a great addition to our existing events. The cinema that used to be here was known as the Ecc Flicks and we want to rekindle that sense of cinema on your doorstep with the help of Bradford City of Film.’
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was screened at the Mechanics Institute, Institute Road, Eccleshill on Saturday 24th October 2015 at 2pm.
The film was introduced by David Wilson – Director, Bradford UNESCO City of Film