Gaumont Smethwick

118 Windmill Lane,
Birmingham, B66 3EN

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Gaumont Cinema

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Located in the Smethwick district west of Birmingham. On this site originally was erected a timber-framed building, clad in pressed metal sheeting, that opened on 4th September 1909 as a skating rink. It was designed by local architect G. Bowden. In 1912 it was purchased by Irving Bosco and alterations were made to convert it into a 1,500 seat cinema, which opened on 8th April 1912 as the Rink Picture House. It was acquired by Mr Shapeero of Nottingham in 1920 and in March 1928 was taken over by Denman Picture Houses who were part of the mighty Gaumont British Cinemas circuit.The Rink Picture House was demolished in November 1929 and work began on building a new modern cinema on the site.

It opened as the Rink Cinema on 7th July 1930 with Jack Holt in "Flight". The facade was a splendid sweeping curve, built in brick which had five large windows above the entrance that had surrounds made of Portland stone in the design of peacocks plumage. There were large foyers which were decorated by huge murals painted by scenic artist Frank Barnes. Seating in the auditorium was provided for 1,300 in the stalls and 650 in the circle. The side-walls had a series of Moorish arches set in a colonade and these were back-lit. The cinema was equipped with a Compton 3Manual/9Ranks theatre organ which was opened by Leslie James.

It was re-named Gaumont Theatre in 1949 and was closed by the Rank Organisation on 1st February 1964 with Janet Munro in "Bitter Harvest" and John Mills in "Tiger Bay". The cinema had been running on part-time bingo for a while and after closure as a cinema, it was converted into a Top Rank Bingo Club, later a Mecca Bingo Club which closed in around 2005. The building has now been converted into an Asian banqueting hall known as the Victoria Suite.

In 2000, it was designated a Grade II Listed building.

Contributed by Ken Roe
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