As the long awaited Everyman cinema finally opens in Harrogate, movie fans can now choose between the town’s traditional 1930s Odeon complex and the more modern cinema experience offered by the newcomer, with comfy sofas and seat-side catering. However, for those preferring something a little different we’re delighted to say there are plenty of thriving independent cinemas near Harrogate. Here’s our review of the best classic cinema hotspots in the area.
Adults £8; Children £7
Officially known as Wetherby Film Theatre, this small but perfectly formed cinema is a favourite among film fans. Originally opened in 1915, it is one of the longest-established cinemas in the area and a visit brings with it a lot of historical charm and nostalgia.
Wetherby Film Theatre is run by Ray and Irene Trewhitt, who have invested heavily in the seating, sound and projection over the last few years, and promise a warm welcome to visitors. Films show every evening at 7.30pm, with special showings occasionally at other times. Advance bookings can be made over the phone during screenings, but with more than 130 seats available it’s often possible to buy tickets on the night too.
The owners have uncovered various pieces of cinema history over the years, including traditional ushers’ uniforms and signage, all of which are on display.
However, when it comes to films, the cinema is very much a modern place to visit. With just the one screen, it chooses its films carefully, but they are usually very recent releases, from children’s favourites to blockbusters. Wetherby also hosts broadcasts of live theatre, opera and ballet on a regular basis through a link-up with organisations like the Royal Opera House.
At just £8 for an adult ticket, it’s a cheaper option than many of the multi-screen chains, and the experience at Wetherby makes it even better value for money. There’s a place to buy sweets and drinks in the auditorium before the film begins, and the cinema has a licence so you can enjoy a glass of wine or a beer while you watch.
Cottage Road Cinema, Headingley
Adults £7; Children, Students and Seniors £5 (£6 after 5.30pm), Pullmans £7.50.
Set back from Headingley’s bustling Otley Road, the route of the infamous Otley Run pub crawl, sits the oldest cinema in Leeds, Cottage Road.
Proudly retaining its rich red velour seats, vintage ticket booth and traditional usherette ice cream seller Cottage Road offers a classic cinema experience. It has moved with the times though and visitors can enjoy anything from a chilled beer to a warming hot chocolate with their cinema snacks or in the lounge bar before the show.
The auditorium has space for 450 people and includes a row of Pullman seats for those wanting a bit of extra comfort and leg room.
The cinema has an intriguing past. It started life as a motor garage in 1908 before being converted into a cinema and eventually sold to Associated Tower Cinemas. When one of the group’s other nearby cinemas, The Lounge, was earmarked for closure in 2005 Cottage Road was nearly lost too but it was rescued by cinema enthusiast Charles Morris who continues to run it to this day. He has since introduced a classic film night, Classics at the Cottage, every 6 weeks and a bar lounge area. The cinema celebrated its centenary in 2012.
The Ritz, Thirsk
Mondays and Matiness – all seats £4; Tues – Sun Adults £5; Children and Seniors £4.
It may have had its heyday from the 1920s to the 1950s but the Ritz Cinema remains a popular choice among people in the area.
This friendly community cinema has retained the period feel of its early 20th century roots while offering modern facilities and the most up-to-date film releases.
The former Mechanic’s Institute building first opened to the public as a cinema in 1912, when it was known as The Picture House and showed the latest in film technology: silent movies. With the advent of ‘talkies’ in 1927, audience numbers rocketed and a balcony area was added to increase capacity. It was also around this time that its name was changed to the Ritz.
Since 1995, it has been entirely run and managed by volunteers, each of whom is passionate about bringing films to Thirsk at affordable prices. And they seem to have succeeded, with an adult ticket costing just £5!
They’ve also ensured that the Ritz provides a great cinema experience, making a variety of improvements such as upgraded seating, surround sound, a new central heating system and refreshed décor.
Adults £12.25; Students £10, Children £8.50.
Ilkley Cinema bucks the trend of local independent picture houses by being a recent addition to the region’s movie landscape. Developed by Ilkley property consultant John Tate, the cinema opened its doors to the public in November 2015 with a one-off special screening of the Ridley Scott classic Blade Runner: The Final Cut.
Its claim to fame is that it is Europe’s smallest 4K resolution cinema and it offers a luxury cinema experience with comfy sofas and trendy décor. The Victorian building on Leeds Road was once a nightclub and was then left empty for years before being transformed into a cinema with its own bar area with outdoor seating. It even sells a selection of sweets in organza bags to do away with rustling during the film.
Ilkley Cinema serves hot food and a good selection of refreshments, including alcohol. Visitors are requested not to bring their own food and drink. This is a destination for a night out rather than simply a cinema and although it may not have the vintage charm of some of its fellow picture houses it is flying the flag for independent cinema in a unique and contemporary way.
The Station Cinema, Richmond
Adults £6 (£7 after 5.30pm); Children £5 (£6 after 5.30pm); Seniors £6 (£6.50 after 5.30pm).
The cinema’s proximity to Catterick Garrison means there’s a special rate for members of the forces who pay the student rate of £6.
Richmond’s derelict Victorian station building was re-opened in 2007 as an arts and heritage centre following a major redevelopment project by Richmondshire Building Preservation Trust.
Trains once rattled through here regularly on the York and Newcastle Railway branch line between Dalton and Richmond carrying farm animals, tourists and troops. The line was closed in 1969 but The Station is now a vibrant space that is home to several artisan shops, an art gallery and café, plenty of regular community events and the three-screen Station Cinema.
This is somewhere you can come for a full day out, making the most of the riverside walks and individual shops before taking in a film. The project has been such a success that the arts centre now welcomes around 350,000 visitors a year and the venue continues to be managed by the Richmondshire Building Preservation Trust.
Hyde Park Picture House, Headingley
Adults £7 stalls, £7.50 balcony; Students and Seniors £5.50 stalls, £6 balcony; Members £5.
Our review of independent cinemas near Harrogate wouldn’t be complete without a mention for one of the few remaining purpose built independent cinemas, Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds.
The Grade II listed building near Leeds University dates back to 1914, having opened for business just a few months after war was declared. Visitors can still enjoy its fully operational gas lights and decorated Edwardian balcony.
It is now run by a board of trustees that includes members of Leeds City Council and four independent trustees. Hyde Park is the world’s only surviving gas-lit cinema and has recently been granted £2.4m from the Heritage Lottery Fund to support its future restoration plans. These include upgrading the facilities to make them more accessible and sharing the cinema’s archives with the general public.