The Cottage Road Cinema is arguably one of the oldest cinemas in the country, in that it has been open and continuously showing films since 1912. It was the last surviving cinema of the once extensive Associated Tower Cinemas Group, and so give Headingley the unique claim to be the only area within Leeds to still offer independently owned screens.
The Cottage Road Cinema was originally known as The Headingley Picture House, and was not purpose built, but was an adaptation of a building dating back to 1905, when it began life as motor garage and motorcycle assembly shop for nearby Castle Grove, a Victorian mansion built for a wealthy Leeds silk merchant, in far Headingley.
During the 1900's Owen Brooks took over the old garage from the then owner, Mr. H.R.Kirk. Besides his interest in these vehicles, Owen Brooks was also a pioneering film cameraman, having made short news films for showing at the Tivoli Theatre in Leeds. In 1912 Owen Brooks was joined in partnership with Reginald Smith and the pair converted the building into the Headingley Picture House, which ran successfully until Smith's death in 1922.
Frank T Thompson (of Golden Acre Park fame) bought the Headingley Picture House in 1937, but after only a year sold out to Associated Tower Cinemas, who added a balcony and changed the name to Cottage Road Cinema.
The company spent a further £20,000 in modernizing the premises in 1972, when a decision was made to continue its use as a cinema. Since that time, both the Lounge and Cottage Road Cinemas continued to operate successfully until 2005.
The Lounge cinema closed in January 2005 and the Cottage Road almost suffered the same fate. It was due to close at the end of July 2005 and in fact the staff had been issued with redundancy notices. In a last minute deal the cinema was taken over by Mr Charles Morris and the cinema became part of the Northern Morris group.
Since becoming part of the Northern Morris Group the cinema has introduced a special classic film night every 6 weeks. "Classics at the Cottage" has almost become a tradition where patrons can watch the classics in the fitting environment. Recent classic films have included: Cabaret, Casablanca, Some Like It Hot, The Godfarther, Breakfast At Tiffanys & Top Hat.