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The Assembly Rooms.
The cinema came to Briggate in 1907, when the Assembly Rooms, which were part of the Grand Theatre building opened as a cinema, with 'New Century Talking and Singing Pictures by the aid of Gaumont's Chronophone.' The Yorkshire Evening News reported that it was 'An enthralling programme in a hall magnificently fitted up and transformed into a miniature theatre'. It closed in 1958 and opened again in August of that year as the Plaza. Leeds City Council bought the building in 1969, and it continued as a cinema until 1985, when it was restored and is now used as rehearsal rooms for Opera North and for productions.

The Picture House.
The Picture House opened in 1907, with a showing of a film of Henry VIII acted by Sir H Beerbohm Tree, and the company of His Majesty's Theatre London. The opening ceremony was performed by Mrs. Currer-Briggs the wife of a former Lord Mayor of Leeds.  As well as the cinema the building housed the Jacobean and Wedgwood Tea Lounges, which were described in the Leeds Mercury as having: 'all the advantages and luxury of a first-class club'. There was the Wedgwood Lounge, for ladies, and the Jacobean Lounge for gentlemen: a fine smoke room, with writing tables, magazines and papers provided, as well as light refreshments. The Picture House was renamed the Rialto in 1927.  It closed in 1938,and was demolished in 1939 to make way for the new Marks and Spencer Store.

The Paramount
The Paramount at the junction of Briggate with the Headrow, was designed by Frank Verity and opened in 1932 with a showing of 'The Smiling Lieutenant', starring Maurice Chevalier. There was also a live show with the 24 Mangan Tiller Girls in 'The Volcano', and the Dakotas in 'Let's Go'. The cinema had the fourth largest Wurlitzer organ in Europe, costing 20,000. In 1940 the name was changed to the Odeon, and as well as being a cinema, was a concert venue for famous stars like Judy Garland and the Beatles.
In 1969 it was converted to a twin cinema, and in 1978 a third screen was built in the bar, the former Paramount Restaurant.

In 1988 the Odeon was refurbished and made into a multi-screen cinema. It closed in 2001.  The building was going to be converted into an apprtment and leisure block but was bought by Primark and converted to a Primark store opening in 2005.

Click images to enlarge
Assembly Rooms, 1944
Assembly Rooms, 1944
Rialto Cinema, 1938
Rialto Cinema, 1938
Odeon Cinema, 1947
Odeon Cinema, 1947

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© 2003 Leeds City Council | Site created by: LCC electronic information team | 25 March 2003