Villa Cross Picture House

Heathfield Road and Barker Street,
Birmingham, B19

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Villa Cross Picture House

Located in the Handsworth district in the northwest of Birmingham. Opened in May 1913 as the New Picture House, it was a project of Irving Bosco who went on to form Bosco’s Pictures Ltd. in 1920. It was located at the main intersection of Heathfield Road, Villa Road and Lozells Road.

The building was a wonderful example of an early picture palace that was beginning to replace the former shop conversions of half a decade before. The facade was dominated by a huge round ‘Rose’ stained glass window over the main entrance doors. Inside the auditorium, there were sculptured decorative panels on the side walls proclaiming ‘The World Before Your Eyes’ that were guarded by statuary of angels and cherubs. All very charming! Seating was provided in stalls and circle.

The cinema became part of the small Shapeero circuit and it was re-named Villa Cross Picture Palace. It was taken over by the Denman/Gaumont circuit from March 1928 and they continued to operate through the rest of its cinematic life, eventually becoming part of the Rank Organisation. It closed on 20th April 1970 with Rock Hudson starring in “Ice Station Zebra”. It went over to screening Asian films of the Bollywood type for a while and then was converted into a Bingo Hall which closed down in September 1984.

Sadly the Villa Cross Picture House found itself right in the middle of the Handsworth race riots of 9th September 1985 and it was badly damaged in an arson attack by the rioters. What remained of the building was finally demolished in 1989.

A sad demise of a cinema building that today would certainly be worthy of Listed status.

Contributed by KenRoe

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on September 15, 2005 at 3:28 am

An exterior from the early 1950’s here:
View link

The auditorium soon after opening in 1913 here:
View link

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 22, 2006 at 7:25 am

“Mary Poppins” plays at Christmas 1965 in this photograph I took while working here as a Relief Manager:
View link 1965.jpg

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 22, 2006 at 7:27 am

Ooops sorry, here is the above link again:
View link

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on October 4, 2010 at 7:23 pm

Thanks Ken.Great pictures,Wonderful history.

petehall on January 21, 2013 at 6:03 am

hi there i worked at this cinema from of the projectionists i worked with was john constable and alan coffey i would love to hear from anybody who worked there ..i loved this cinema and was really upset when i found out it had been knocked down..i spent two wonderful years working there ..

Lerolin on October 26, 2015 at 9:10 am

The description of the location in the text is correct (“located at the main intersection of Heathfield Road, Villa Road and Lozells Road”), but the map shows it a way down Barker Street and the heading has “Baker Street”. But how wonderful to find this record of the cinema where I used to go for (I recall) the 6d Saturday morning movies. Thank you Ken and others.

Donna16377 on January 5, 2016 at 7:39 pm

Hi did anyone work here in 1976?

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