Valentines Day.... after a late breakfast and a lazy morning, with more wind, rain and hill snow forecast, we head over the hills to Holmfirth...
Sitting in the heart of the breathtaking Holme Valley, this captivating little village, centred on the confluence of the Holme and Ribble rivers, oozes creativity – celebrating its uniqueness with a festival program of Arts and Music, Film, Food and Drink, not to mention the famous Duck Race - cue a Sadie song (for those in the know)!
Known locally as 'Little Hollywood', Holmfirth was once a centre for pioneering film-making by Bamforth & Co., which later switched to the production of saucy seaside postcards – a large print of one hangs in our dressing room!
These days the town is renowned as the location of the TV classic ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ and Ron can’t wait to head off to Nora Batty’s teashop – which he duly does in the pouring rain.
Our venue tonight, the Picturedrome, was originally known as the Holme Valley Theatre and was opened on Easter Monday, March 1st 1913. Designed as a cinema, the theatre seated 1040 people; 240 in the balcony and 800 downstairs.
The first films to be shown in the Valley Theatre featured live musical accompaniment, later replaced with a recorded music device called a panatrope - basically a record player with twin turntables.
In the first 10 to 15 years, the theatre presented its audience with a large variety of live acts including musicians, actors and even a stage appearance of a strong man billed as ‘Yorkshire's Hercules’. The first sound feature was the popular 'Sunnyside Up', which opened on 13th October 1930.
In March 1963 the venue celebrated its Golden Jubilee. However, as audiences dwindled, it was no surprise when it closed in September 1967 - with a performance of 'The Family Way' starring John and Haley Mills.
It was leased to Bradford Amusement Caterers and reopened as a bingo hall in December 1967. Bingo kept the flag flying for some 26 years before it was once again utilised as a cinema capable of staging live performances and renamed the Picturedrome.
We huddle around one small heater in a chilly, damp dressing room, listening to the Mechanics soundchecking below. Then it’s our turn for a quick run through before we repair to the pub next door for bite to eat and a warm....
back at the Picturedrome the crowd are buzzing. It’s a great atmosphere with many standing, a real ‘rock’ gig and, once again, Dani and the boys deliver to a warm, appreciative crowd...
then it’s a thirty mile drive back to the hotel, red wine and crisps in Dani’s room, late to bed, late to rise. Buxton tomorrow. Rock ‘n Roll!