Architecture is one of my main passions, and although anything Art Deco always has a special interest, I also love to try to spot old cinemas, picture houses from the past that may now be closed for good, or only existing in some other role. The 50’s, 60’s and 70’s saw so many of these fabulous buildings closed for good, with many of them then demolished to make way for carparks, supermarkets and housing estates. Those that are left are often in precarious positions, like the Birmingham Palladium in Hockley that I featured in this post earlier this year, falling to wrack and ruin without the protection of either local and national listing. The Royalty in Harborne is one such building, an art deco building of beauty that was the victim of a major fire and now faces an uncertain future.
Whilst browsing on my photoroll I saw that I had photographed many of these wonderful buildings at one time or another, so am now going to be sharing these images in a series of posts dedicated to at least preserving a record of these buildings. Some are very old, like the Central Picture Theatre in Blackpool, an art nouveau treasure that dates back to 1913. Some are from the house of Odeon, glorious buildings created by Harry Weedon for the iconic cinema chain, and have those famous fins that are so characteristic of that 1930’s moderne design. The Buzz Bingo in Bournemouth is an unusual Odeon in that it was also incorporated into shops and apartments. It closed in 2020 due to the lockdown and did not reopen.
There are independent treasures, like The Dale, now a Wetherspoons pub and a real Art Deco treasure, and the Northwick in Worcester, which is now Greys of Worcester, a furniture shop worth visiting to see the still glorious interior, and then there are the frontage only survivors like the Delicia in Aston, once BBC studios, only the classic frontage survives from the original building, and the Regal in Lichfield, frontage saved to be a focal point of new apartments.
These are the survivors. Many other glorious treasures have long since gone. Check out the further reading section to see more images of those long lost treasures.
The Central Picture Theatre Blackpool
The Northwick Cinema, Worcester
Grand Cinema, Bournemouth
Former Cannon Cinema, Blackpool
The Dale Cinema, Willenhall
The Royalty Cinema, Harbourne
The Kingsway Cinema, Kings Heath
Former Clifton Cinema, Great Barr
Royal Pavilion Theatre, Blackpool
The Central Beach Cinema Blackpool
Former Delicia Cinema, Aston
Former Regal Cinema, Lichfield
Former Clifton Cinema, Wellington
Former Odeon, Kingstanding