Saturday, 23 January 2010

Alhambra reflections

Almost next door to The Sir Titus Salt pub I featured yesterday, in the centre of Bradford, is what I consider to be one of the most interesting buildings in Bradford - The Alhambra Theatre. Built in 1914 at a cost of £20,000, the name comes from the Arabic "Kal-El-At-Ambra" meaning red-domed castle.

It was the brainchild of Francis Laidler, an impresario who became famous for producing pantomime. Conceived as a Variety Theatre, a 'Palace of Pleasure' for the whole family (moving on from the earlier, earthier Music Hall style of show) the Alhambra eventually became (still is) one of the premier venues for pantomime in the UK. (Pantomime is a particular form of musical comedy theatre with slapstick, audience participation, traditional storylines and a host of in-jokes and sexual innuendo. There is always a "dame" - a man dressed as a woman, and the "principal boy" is always an attractive young woman, playing the male romantic lead.)

The theatre was enlarged and restored in 1986 - one of the good decisions Bradford Council took, despite its reputation for razing Bradford's finest old buildings to the ground! It is now able to host the biggest shows, direct from London's West End. An evening at the Alhambra is always a treat; the inside of the building is magnificently restored and the auditorium itself is stunning. (Click on the Alhambra link above to see photos on its website.)

My photo shows the theatre reflected in the former city police HQ opposite - another building which will shortly be demolished, to make way for a new park and lake in the city centre (!).


  1. What a great shot! I like the reflection and it would make a wonderful post for the Weekend Reflections meme. I grew up near Jacksonville, Florida and we had a dinner theatre called The Alhambra and it was the place to go for a nice evening on the town. Sadly I read that it recently closed, a victim of the economy.

  2. Yes, nice shot Jenny.

    Pantos aren't so common here but I've seen a couple and they were a hoot.


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