Odeon Walsall

1 The Bridge,
Walsall, WS1 1PY

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Gaumont Cinema Walsall

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Picture House in Lower Bridge Street, Walsall opened in July 1920 with a showing of "Woman" starring Florence Billings. It was a project of the Associated Provincial Picture House chain, and was designed by London based architects Robert Atkinson and George Alexander, who had designed their Queens Picture House in Wolverhampton. On the 1st September 1923 the Picture House was destroyed by a fire.

It’s owners, APPH/Provincial Cinematograph Theatres(PCT) rebuilt the Picture House to the designs of architectural firm Percy Lindsey Browne & Glover. It re-opened on 26th December 1924.

The Picture House had the very first Wurlitzer cinema organ to be installed in the United Kingdom. The 2Manual/6Ranks instrument was opened on 26th January 1925 by organist Jack Courtnay. The exterior of the building was faced in white tiles manufactured by the Hathern Station Brick & Terra Cotta Company. The foyer was decorated in a Tudor style, with a real coal burning fireplace. Inside the auditorium there were slips on each side of the balcony, leading to exits. The cinema had a very popular cafe/restaurant, which remained open thoughout its life.

In February 1929 PCT were taken over by Gaumont, but the Picture House wasn’t renamed until 1948.

Later it became part of the Rank Organisation and was re-named Odeon from 22nd October 1965. The auditorium and foyers were ‘modernised’ in 1967, destroying the charming ambience of the cinema. On 2nd March 1971, it was again destroyed by fire in an arson attack. The remains of the frontage was boarded up, which was how it remained for several years before being sold and re-developed.

A Tesco Metro supermarket was built on the site. This had closed by February 2013.

Contributed by Glen Twamley

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on October 22, 2010 at 4:20 pm

A vintage photograph of the Picture House, and photographs of the first ever Wurlitzer organ to be installed in the UK, which is now installed in the Congregational Church, Beer, Devon:

Mike_Blakemore on August 30, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Hmm. Correction. The fire was not caused by a disgruntled former projectionist… FACT.. it was disgruntled former vegatable delivery man that set fire to a number of catering establishments at that time. I found this a sad time.. even though I was Assitant Manager of the Local ABC Cinema.. at the time.

Mike_Blakemore on July 30, 2012 at 8:37 am

I have now loaded a picture of the Fanastic Foyer.. Before being wrecked by the **** modernisation by Moorebird Ltd., I have a picture of the Interior, which I still have not found..

Mike_Blakemore on February 24, 2013 at 7:54 am

The Tesco Supermarket is closed.. and awaiting the Co-operative Supermarket and Primark to move on to the site

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