A new life for Castleford Picture House?

A former theatre which has sat burnt and blackened since a fire last year is to be transformed into a new venue for the community.

Friday, 12th January 2018, 2:17 pm
Updated Friday, 12th January 2018, 2:30 pm
The Picture House, Station Road, Castleford, 1955. Picture courtesy of Wakefield Libraries.

The former Castleford Picture House was purchased at auction in October.

And new owner property developer Am Karvani plans to restore it, with a £1m investment.

He hopes to transform the upstairs of the building into a gym, and get a fitness brand on board to occupy it, while downstairs his vision includes creating an Italian restaurant and cocktail bar.

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The Picture House Station Road, Castleford, after the Fire...15th January 2017 ..Picture by Simon Hulme

Mr Karvani said: “At the moment if you look at Castleford it is a bit of a ghost town, especially on an evening if people want to go out and socialise.

“There’s a limited number of places available to them without travelling to Leeds or Wakefield. I think that this has huge potential to bring the area back to life.

“Hopefully it will be a catalyst for other companies to come in and invest here too.”

The Picture House, which opened in 1921, was a luxury cinema and theatre, for more than four decades.

The Picture House Station Road, Castleford, after the Fire...15th January 2017 ..Picture by Simon Hulme

Crowds lined the street outside it when The Princess Royal - Princess Mary - visited Castleford in 1955, for the Charter Day ceremony, making the area officially a borough.

The cinema, which seated up to 1,200 people and also had a ballroom and stage facilities, was decorated with flowers and bunting for the occasion.

Following its closure in 1964, the Picture House building was run as a restaurant, bingo hall, cafe bar, pub and nightclub.

But a blaze last January left much of its exterior, furniture and fittings gutted.

Mr Karvani, who lives in Leeds and spent a lot of time in Castleford whilst growing up, also has buildings in the surrounding area.

“When I saw the Picture House derelict I thought it was a really interesting building with a lot of potential,” he said.

“I thought with its history and its location that it could really do with coming back to life for the community.”

Ideas for the site are in there early stages - and Mr Karvani said he hopes to work with Wakefield Council to put forward a planning application.

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