Colmore Circus, Steelhouse Lane,
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The Gaumont Palace Theatre opened on 9th February 1931 with Ronald Colman in “Raffles”. It was the first cinema built purely by Gaumont British Theatres (rather than being a takeover). It was equipped with a Compton 3Manual/10Rank organ which was opened by organist Leslie James. It was re-named Gaumont in 1937. It was closed for a month in July/August 1942 due to bomb damage.
In 1961 it was closed for modernisation of the auditorium. Gone were the Art Deco style decorative features and in came a huge curtained auditorium. From 14th October 1963 it was converted into a Cinerama theatre, opening with “Cinerama Holiday”. Over two million people saw the 70mm roadshow presentation of “The Sound of Music” at the Gaumont when a 168 week run began in 1965, and ended in July 1968. Closed for repairs and redecoration in August 1973, the Birmingham Gaumont boasted the largest screen in Europe during this time.
Situated in front of the offices of the Birmingham Post and Mail, the cinema suffered in the 1980’s when UK cinema grosses experienced a precipitous drop.
The Gaumont closed on 29th October 1983 with “Yellowbeard”, and the building then stood enpty and becoming derelict until it was demolished in 1986 to make way for new offices for The Weslyan Insurance Company, which built its new head offices on the site.
The facade of the building was dismantled brick by brick and was put into storage with the intention to rebuild it on a new site. Unfortunately, the rise in popularity of multiplexes most likely portends that this will probabaly never happen.
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