Gaumont Birmingham

Colmore Circus, Steelhouse Lane,
Birmingham, B4 6AR

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Gaumont Theatre Birmingham

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.

Contributed by M Spoon

Recent comments (view all 32 comments)

smoothie on March 21, 2008 at 12:19 pm

Scala Superama(later Odeon,Queensway) 1966 photo from one of my local history sites here:–

I haven’t forgotten about making up a profile about this one, nor some of the many West Midlands' theatres i’ve promised to do.I’ll find a space in my busy existence as soon as possible!

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on March 21, 2008 at 12:34 pm

Smoothie; Thanks for that great photo of the Scala Superama/Odeon Queensway. You are allowed to post it at the Odeon Queensway, Birmingham page here:

smoothie on March 21, 2008 at 5:11 pm

Ken,according to the CT search index, the Odeon,Queensway ain’t listed. Or is it me?

Did you notice on the photo that the Scala had become the “Cala” as the downward “S” had dropped off! I can think of some pubs locally that had that happen, but the resulting name got a bit risque. LOL

keiths on February 19, 2009 at 2:06 pm

I saw ‘Close Encounters’ at the Gaumont on its first release, and ‘boy’ was that screen big!!

chrisjones on May 6, 2009 at 11:18 am

For a 12 year old kid just getting into cinema, this cinema could not be matched. I remember seeing ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ 8 times on that huge screen. It had an exclusive presentation there before going on general release in the Midlands. Great memories.

Mike_Blakemore on October 19, 2011 at 3:33 pm

I have load a picture of the original Stage… Hope enjoy

Johncine on November 7, 2011 at 5:55 am

June 15th 1980 is a day long-remembered. THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK premiered it’s run here. Two months before, I saw THE BLACK HOLE on opening day here as well and was amongst the audience blown away by the EMPIRE teaser trailer. I also saw STAR WARS / EMPIRE double bill, DRAGONSLAYER and ROBIN HOOD on reissue. A big-screen sadly missed now, but one of my favourite places of all time. ROCKY II replaced THE BLACK HOLE after three weeks.

Robbie25646 on September 9, 2012 at 8:03 am

I used to go regularly in the id 1950s as a child, Wonderful memories of a great theatre.

Wurlitzer420 on December 6, 2015 at 3:50 pm

The organ was remmoved to the abbey hall Abingdon. Now it will be installed by the Penistone cinema organ trust in Barnsley. It will be added to several other cinema organs, this makinng it the largest Compon theatre organ in the world

Ambak on March 17, 2018 at 1:12 pm

The conversion to three strip Cinerama was an expensive waste of money. ABC had already converted the ABC Bristol Road and had access to the best film in the process (How the West Was Won). The Gaumont opened with Cinerama Holiday, played it for nine weeks and then closed again for ten days while the 3 strip kit was ripped out and replaced with 70mm for the opening of It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World on December 26th, which at least could be advertised as “in Cinerama” (albeit single lens). In June 1964 when The Fall of the Roman Empire opened, the Cinerama tag had to be dropped.

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