Taken from the theatre to cinema, by barge!

Moving the screen from the Little Theatre to the Hippodrome's Electric Palace by Bronte Boats' barge
Moving the screen from the Little Theatre to the Hippodrome's Electric Palace by Bronte Boats' barge

A barge designed for sightseeing trips on the Rochdale Canal has been used to ferry a more unusual cargo between Hebden Bridge and Todmorden – a 25ft long cinema screen.

The screen was installed in Hebden Bridge Little Theatre in the early 1990s by the town’s film society but in recent years had fallen into disuse.

Todmorden Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society, which now runs free cinema every month under the name of Electric Palace, jumped at the chance to give this key piece of kit a new lease of life.

The only problem was finding a cost effective way to transfer it between the venues, said Todmorden Hippodrome spokeswoman Justine Sutcliffe.

She used her contacts in the local tourist trade to come up with this ingenious solution!

“The Bronte Boat Hire business, based at Hebden Bridge Marina offered to loan us their boat to transport the unsual cargo along the six mile stretch of the canal, which runs right beside the Little Theatre.”

After the four-hour trip, it was unloaded at Key Syke, in Todmorden, and carried overland to the Hippodrome Theatre by a team of strapping stage technicians.

“We were extremely grateful to Bronte Boats and their proprietor Dave Ormerod for their help – hiring a lorry and crane to do the job would have far too expensive,” she said.

Little Theatre chairman Michael Peel said the screen had served its purpose and he was pleased another organisation would now be able to use it.

“We are planning major alterations and improvements to our stage area and because we only have a little theatre, we don’t have the space to store the screen. I hope everyone will benefit from the move,” he said.

l For more on the Electric Palace’s next screenings, see page 34.