Cottage Road cinema – review

Part of Adam’s ‘Yorkshire’s Independent Cinemas‘ series for TSOTA. View the full series HERE

In a location that should be familiar to the frequent Otley Runners among you, the Cottage Road cinema is just a short journey from the Headingley campus or a bus ride up from town. It first opened in 1912 after spending seven years as a garage, showing films pretty much throughout the 20th century, until it was nearly closed in 2005 after hitting financial difficulties. Thankfully it was saved and nowadays offers an alternative to your everyday cinema.

As far as décor goes, Cottage Road is your classic older cinema; all red velvet curtains and big plush chairs. The exterior as well is a far cry from the Kirkstall multiplex – if it wasn’t for the sign declaring the fact that it is indeed a cinema, you could almost be forgiven for missing it, so well does it fit in with the old-fashioned architecture of Headingley. However, it can’t quite match up to the Edwardian splendour of the nearby Hyde Park Picture House. It isn’t quite as grand, and the blocky layout inside just lacks its rival’s character.

In fact, the feeling that Cottage Road would benefit from a little cash injection is difficult to escape. Rather than a charming entrance to the building, the lobby feels a little like a worn-out seaside tearoom.  It’s just a bit of a disappointment compared to the rest of the building. The same thing could be set of the cinema’s seats; yes, it’s nice that they still have the originals, but they are starting to show their age a little, and could probably do with a renovation.

The main attractions of these independent cinemas are rarely screenings of the latest Hollywood blockbusters, and this is certainly true of Cottage Road. Every so often, they have ‘special screenings’ of older films and cult favourites, such as The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night. These are popular events, and as such are best booked in advance if you intend to get tickets. What’s more, before each film, adverts from around its original release date will be played, adding to the nostalgic experience. During the interval as well customers have the chance to buy ice creams and other refreshments from the vendors, or if you feel like something a bit stronger, you can pick up a bottle of ale from behind the bar. This results in something of a community atmosphere at these nights that’s hard to find elsewhere.

Tickets are relatively cheap as well, at £4 for students most of the time and £5 after 5pm. There aren’t that many showings though, so you might want to glance at the programme before waltzing on down hoping to catch a film. However, the cinema does have its own iPhone app, meaning that those who download it can easily access film listings and receive special offers on tickets.

Adam Button

Filed under: Film, TV & Tech