367 Moseley Road,
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Previously operated by: Associated British Cinemas Ltd.
Architects: Ernest S. Roberts, Roland Satchwell
Firms: Satchwell & Roberts
Styles: Atmospheric, Egyptian, Moorish
Located in the south Birmingham district of Balsall Heath. One of the first of the English Atmospheric style cinemas, the Alhambra Cinema was (not uncommonly) an eclectic mix of styles.
The foyer, with its mosaic floor, was decorated in an Egyptian style, the café considered Algerian style whilst the auditorium was based on the Moorish Palace at Granada in Spain!
Bronze lanterns with intricate patterns provided the lighting whilst a large plaster sun dominated the plain barrel vaulted ceiling. The side walls were arched and contained stencilled scenes. The rectangular proscenium was flanked by marble columns in a Moorish style (with a domed ‘temple’ either side serving as an exit) and very richly draped.
Opened on 26th December 1928, the first film was Matheson Long in “The Scarlet Pimpernel”. The cinema had a 50 feet wide proscenium and there was an orchestra of eight musicians in the orchestra pit.
It was taken over by Associated British Cinemas(ABC) from 1st April 1930, and the spectacular décor over the years was largely painted over.
The Alhambra Cinema closed on 31st August 1968 with Sophia Loren in “The Fall of the Roman Empire”. It re-opened for several years, operating as an Asian cinema screening Bollywood films. When demolition was proposed in 1974, there was not much opposition - just another old, tatty cinema right?
The grim reaper visited the cinema and a school now occupies the site of this once grand cinema palace.
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Recent comments (view all 4 comments)
The architects of the Alhambra Cinema, Moseley Road, Birmingham were Satchwell & Roberts and it was built for the Leon Salberg and Sydney W. Clift circuit of cinemas named Cinema Proprietors Ltd. It opened on 26th December 1928 and had a seating capacity of 1,662.
It was taken over by Associated British Cinemas (ABC) on 1st April 1930. It closed as a regular cinema on 31st August 1968 and became an Asian cinema showing Bollywood movies before final closure and demolition.
Oh how I remember our Saturday morning matinee. I think it cost 6d to get in. There was a man outside selling big lollipops out of a brown suit case. After watching Gene Audtry, Roy Rogers and Flash Gordon we would go home and act out our own cow boy film. Happy days from 1945/1955 then I had to grow up
Janetpotter I went to the Alhambra a few times but not for the Saturday Matinee. I went to my nearest for that, the Luxor Cinema in Balsall Heath Road. We use to cue around the side and up to the door of the Luxor every Saturday morning. As you say Happy Days.
Grand opening ad:
Alhambra Cinema opening 22 Dec 1928, Sat Evening Despatch (Birmingham, West Midlands, England) Newspapers.com